Researchers With Too Much Time On Their Hands Figure Out Exactly What Makes Dr. Seuss Funny
No parent has ever bothered to ask what makes Dr. Seuss books so funny, because “I’m not just a CLAM or a HAM or a dusty old JAR of sour gooseberry jam!” is simply an objectively funny thing to read out loud. But that hasn’t stopped researchers at Canada’s University Of Alberta and Germany’s University Of Tübingen from trying to figure it out.
They started by having people compare pairs of nonsense words, like suppopp and bollyze, and note which one was funnier. (Suppopp, obviously.) Then, they had them rate all the words on a hilarity scale of one to 7. The words with more “entropy” — meaning, words that played on people’s expectations but then subverted them unexpectedly by devolving into nonsense — turned out to be the funniest. Guess who happened to be a genius at inventing seriously entropic words? The guy who wrote There’s A Wocket In My Pocket!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QLa6xuheYU expand=1]
While the board of regents at both universities might want to investigate what other matters of the obvious their researchers are mastering, you can at least take one useful thing away from the study: “University Of Tübingen” is an awesome starting point to create some Seussian nonsense of your own.