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After Psychological Investigations Dr. Sears Discovers Why People Won't Laugh at His Joke

If Joke is to Succeed it Must Not Be Interrupted as Crucial Point is Reached


How to tell a good joke, and just what distinguishes a belly-buster from a total flop is the subject of a recent thesis compiled by Dr. Richard N. Sears '27 under the auspices of the Psychology Department.

Among the discoveries of Dr. Sears, found when he was investigating why an audience of forty assorted Harvard and Cambridge residents would not laugh at his jokes, was the fact that meek people just love to be targets for witticisms. This is, apparently, contrary to established opinion.

The official release reads in part: "The most crucial part in telling a joke, Dr. Sears discovered, comes just when the point of the story is about to be revealed. If an interruption is made at this time, the joke is almost certain to be spoiled.

Dr. Sears found this out by showing his subjects jokes which were flashed on the screen by a stereoptician. At the critical moment the machine broke down. When the machine resumed operation, the point of the story was revealed. The subjects were ask to rate the story on a simple scale indicating whether is was very funny, in different, or very poor.

"Jokes interrupted at this critical point were almost invariably given poor rating. Interruption at other points in the story tended to spoil but not so drastically."

As may be seen, this news, a gods to all Freshman humorists, was covered by the aid of very complicated electrical apparatus. The very fact that such a study was undertaken, that the methods of science were allowed invade a hitherto purely artistic field, is taken by those in the know to be another indication of the scientific mind now in the saddle at Harvard.

Mr. Lowell never knew why they didn't laugh, nor cared either.

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