What is America's funniest city and how are America's funniest and unfunniest cities determined? This, dear readers, is a matter of speculation and debate. However, professor Peter McGraw and his Humor Research Lab manfully stepped into the breech, and came up with metrics including:
1. Over 900 interviews with citizens of larger cities
2. The number of comedy clubs per square mile
3. Traveling comedians' ratings of each cities' audiences in comedy clubs
4. Density of famous funny tweeters locally
5. Number of comedy radio stations available locally
6. Frequency of visits to Cheezburger and other web sites.
7. Frequency of humor-related web searches coming from each city
Obviously, this study had a built-in bias towards larger cities. I can't see Knoxville, Lexington, Asheville, or Joplin making the list. There is also a tendency to overlook small towns' places for local comedy, like cafes, gas stations, or City Hall. Besides, the first category of data collection in effect excluded mid- and smaller-sized cities from consideration.
According to the research, Chicago, Boston and Atlanta top the list of America’s funniest cities. The four largest cities on the West Coast are big on comedy and being funny. Texas, the Southwest, and Florida seem to be humor-challenged. And it's incredible that Las Vegas made the bottom ten!
What are possible developments resulting from this research? Many communities will simply go into denial, saying that they're very funny but their humor is too cerebral to be understood by clods. Others might take a bootstrap approach, requiring a mandatory humor class in school and offering tax incentives to possible comedy clubs. On the other side, some communities might consider being thought of as "funny" does not go with the corporate image they are trying to cultivate. I see Seattle as one possibility; but midwestern cities might wish to move from unrecognized to least funny. Cleveland, for example. Having to cope with Cleveland jokes for a generation will do that to some places. Some places, otherwise unsung, might hope to turn its listed in the 10 funniest cities into a tourism and economic asset. Think of what a boon that would be for Shreveport. And suddenly football teams might become more thrilled at getting an invitation to the Liberty Bowl!