Chicago is the funniest city in America. And not just because we gave the world John Belushi and Bill Murray.
Though, really, that would be enough.
A group of academics at the Humor Research Lab, headquartered at the University of Colorado Boulder, painstakingly analyzed America's funny bone and found that the denizens of the Windy City laugh first, last and best.
Not only did the researchers look at the number of famous comedians born in the city, they studied:
- frequency of visits to Cheezburger comedy websites, such as Lolcats and FAIL Blog
- number of comedy clubs per square mile in each city
- traveling comedians’ ratings of each city’s comedy-club audiences
- number of famous funny tweeters living in each city
- number of comedy radio stations available in each city
- frequency of humor-related web searches originating in each city
After identifying the top 10, the Humor Research Lab team interviewed 900 people about what makes them laugh — and how do they joke about their city.
"A city’s sense of humor is a living, breathing thing, created by everything from coffee shop conversations to Web videos shared between friends to the laughter that erupts at comedy clubs," said Adrian Ward, a senior research associate who worked on the study.
Chicagoans prefer "deadpan and quick-witted humor," according to the study — a lot of directed at what sucks about life in Chicago. (Oh, the Cubs, the Cubs.)
The project grew out of a new book by Peter McGraw, associate professor of marketing and psychology at the university, who co-authored "The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny" with journalist Joel Warner.
However, Chicagoans cannot tell a joke, the researchers concluded.
"Many Chicago residents surveyed noted that they could not think of any zingers, since they prefer to mine observational humor from the situations in which they find themselves," the report noted. "Such remarks seem to fit with the city’s professional comedy scene, since the city is known as a mecca for improv and standup.”
One Chicagoan told the researchers: "We also have a lot of humor about our public transportation system, the CTA, due to how dangerous it is."
Remember all the funny comments you heard after the CTA driver fell asleep at the controls and plowed her Blue Line train into the station at O'Hare Airport last month?
Other cities to make the Top 10 list, and what the research suggests, include:
2. Boston: Dry, intellectual, humor balanced by low-brow, drunken rowdiness
3. Atlanta: Racially-charged humor
4. Washington, D.C.: Political and cynical humor
5. Portland, Ore.: Quirky, absurd, and just plain weird
6. New York: Fast-paced and high-stress comedy
7. Los Angeles: Cynical show-business zingers
8. Denver: Laid-back (and pot-fueled) comedy
9. San Francisco: Comedic tension between "liberal" San Francisco and "high-tech" San Francisco
10. Seattle: Snooty, intellectual humor
On Twitter: @DennisRobaugh
What do you think? Past or present, who's the funniest person to call Chicago home?