Are funny people better at spotting comedy?

Updated: Apr 30

Is it widely believed that successful comics are better at dispassionately filtering jokes that they generate. They know that some will be good, some okay, and some terrible no matter how funny they seem at first. Knowing which jokes to tell your audience is key. Do funny people have superior comedic insight? How good is the lay person in sifting through his/her jokes?

Contrary to earlier studies which found that people overestimate their comedic talents, a new study by Paul Silvia et al. suggests that people are critical of the jokes they tell. The researchers asked participants (N = 1133) to create funny ideas and then rate them. The ideas were also rated independently by judges.

Among participants, women rated their ideas as less funny compared to men. This is in line with earlier research indicating that women are more critical of their jokes. Among personality traits, two had an effect on self-appraisal of jokes. People who scored high on trait Extroversion and trait Openness rated their jokes as funnier.

There was some similarity between ratings by the participants and ratings by the independent jury. This means that the lay person has some insight into how good their jokes really are. However, the researchers found no evidence for funnier people being better at discerning good jokes from bad ones. Comedic insight could be a myth.

Read more about the study here.