Is Humor Dead?

A somewhat sad study undertaken by Costa Coffee has found that the British people no longer know how to tell a good joke.  Apparently, more than 33 percent of the UK adult population claims it simply doesn’t know even one real rib-tickler.  Some of them say it’s because they forget the punch line; others, that they are just embarrassed, and a few simply put it down to the fact that they are just not quite in the right mood.

But really, when you think about it, is this situation really so surprising?  Given that close to 70 percent of survey responders claimed to not have gotten positive feedback from those individuals to whom they were telling the joke, why would they want to try again and face that potential embarrassment once more?  Ten percent said they hated being the center of attention, which is also what happens when telling a joke and has been off-putting this large factor of non-joke tellers.

So what else can explain this relatively new phenomenon?  Is it possible new technologies have something to do with it and can take the blame?  One in five of those surveyed said it is way easier to text a joke as if it bombs, you don’t have to look stupid.

SMS’ing Killing Jokes?

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There has been an argument that the reason the Brits are losing their humor can be put down to the fact that texting has become so popular in recent years, individuals are now shying away from one-on-one, face-to-face joke telling.  Indeed, the survey found that almost a third now choose to send jokes via SMS rather than relate them face-to-face.  As well, a somewhat lower percentage – 13 percent – choose to e-mail jokes and 5 percent try to make others laugh through some kind of social networking site.

But, at the end of the day, this situation really is a little sad and doesn’t say much for societal progression.  According to Paul Tonkinson, a comedian, “the findings from the survey show that technology seems to have taken over as the best way to tell a joke, which is a result of the modern age we now live in.  Brits are famed for their sense of humor and it’s a great loss to our culture that so many of us can’t tell a good joke any more. Remembering all the detail in a joke and delivering a punch line with impact does take a certain amount of skill and flair – which some are better at than others.”

Come on Brits, don’t be shy; get out there again, learn to trust and start bringing humor back to the table…face-to-face.


James Fishman has been involved in the world of online magazines for more than 15 years. He helped launch Sunstone Online and continues to improve the magazine as site editor and administrator. His writing focuses primarily business and technology. To be in touch with James, feel free to contact him at james[at]

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