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What's So Funny?

It is extremely difficult to explain why something is funny. No one knows for sure why we laugh at
certain ideas and situations. However, research is begging to tell us more about how and why humor
affect us.
Some psychologists say that people laugh because of the element of surprise in humor. When the
audience hears the funny part at the end of a joke, the "punch line", they experience a familiar idea in
a new, humorous way. These psychologists say that a joke or a situation is funny because two ideas
do not match. This is called incongruity. There can be a mismatch, or incongruity, between characters
in a joke or story. There might also be a mismatch between what happens in a funny situation and
what usually happen in "real life". On some level, when ideas that don't match are put together, this
surprises us and causes us to laugh.
According to other researchers, humor can make people believe that they are better than other
people. If we see ourselves as superior, we will feel better. This kind of humor is good if it doesn't hurt
another person. Jokes about certain types of people make a person feel superior.
Ultimately, scientists cannot yet explain why something is
funny because it comes from deep inside of us. One thing
they are sure of is that laughter in essential for keeping us
healthy. As one wise old woman once said, "A good laugh a
day keeps the doctor away."
(Adapted from NorthStar: Building skills for TOEFL IBT. BEAUMONT, John.)

Comprehension
1. What is the theme of the text?
a. The adventures of Calvin and Hobbes.
b. The causes of laughing.
c. To explain why people laugh.
d. The psychologists researches about the humor.
e. To advice about the problems caused by laughing.
2. According to the text, whats a punch line?
a. A punch line is what scientist can explain.
b. This is a part at the begging of the joke.
c. It is the part, in the end of the joke, which makes people laugh.
d. It is what always hides prejudice against women.
e. The main topic of a speech.

3. Read the season 2 transcription scene of The Big Bang Theory.


Sheldon, Leonard, Rajesh and Howard are leaving the apartment when casually they meet Penny
climbing the stairs.
Penny: Oh, hey guys, wherere you headed?
Sheldon: To the comic book store. You are probably thinking the comic book store? On a Thursday?
Ive fallen down the rabbit hole and into a land of madness. What you have failed to take into account
is that it is Any Thing Can Happen Thursday
Penny: You got me. Oh hey, while youre there could you pick me up a few comics for my nephews
birthday?
Sheldon: Oh, I think you mean comic books. Comics are feeble attempts at humor featuring talking
babies and anthropomorphized pets found traditionally in the optimized named funny pages.
Penny: Leonard, could you pick me up a few comics for my nephews birthday?
Leonard: Sure. What does he like?
Penny: I dont know. Hes 13. Just pick out anything.
Sheldon: Just pick out anything? Maybe at the same time we can pick out a new suit for him without
knowing his size, or pick out his career without knowing his aptitude. Pick out a new breakfast without
knowing his fiber requirements. Or his feelings about little marshmallows.
Penny: Spider-man. Get him Spider-man.
Sheldon: Amazing Spider-Man? Ultimate Spider-Man? Spectacular Spider-Man? The Marvelous
Adventures of Spider-Man? Spider-Man 2099?
Penny: Leonard?
Leonard: You know this can go on all night. Why dont you just come with us?
Penny: Oh, thats what I was trying to avoid.
Sheldon: Oh I forgot Sensational Spider-Man.

a. Following the previously instructions, do you remember of watching this scene? When?
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b. Do you think reading the scene is as funny as watching it? Why?


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4. As youve done on Edmodo, write again about The Big Bang Theory. Why do you think it
was funny?

Steps:
Think of a scene that you enjoyed.

a. Who were the people or characters?

Use the questions below to help you.

b. What was the episode about?

Take notes after each question.

c. Was there any incongruity in the humor?


d. Did the humor make other characters or the
audience feel superior any way?
e. Why else was it funny?

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5. Sheldon says that comics are feeble attempts at humor featuring talking babies and
anthropomorphized pets. Analyzing this comic strip, do you agree with him?

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