For the doctor, Sam Shuster of Newcastle University, U.K., unicycling began as a hobby. But it became a study of human nature as he wheeled about local streets and noticed the multitudes of jokes he sparked—often lame and predictable, he said, and usually from men. Guessing this might reflect a biological phenomenon, he proceeded in a year-long investigation to document over 400 people’s reactions to his one-wheeled jaunts.Anyone who watched Goodfellas or The Sopranos for more than an hour would soon figure out that much male humor, if not more, isn't just gut-busting, but (to put it bluntly) ball-breaking.
Over 90 percent responded physically, he found, such as with exaggerated stares or waves. Almost half responded verbally—more men than women. Here, said Shuster, sex differences emerged in force: 95 percent of adult women praised, encouraged or showed concern, while men instead unleashed often-snide jokes 75 percent of the time. Equally striking, he said, was the jokes’ repetitiveness. Two thirds referred to the number of wheels, such as “lost your wheel?”
One of the most conspicuous findings, to Shuster, was the way the male response changed with age.
It started with curiosity in childhood, years 5 through 12—the same reaction as young girls. But around the ages of 11 to 13, boys’ responses degenerated into physical and verbal aggression, Shuster found; these scamps in fact often tried to get him to fall. Responses became more verbal during the later teens, turning into mocking jests or songs, Shuster reported. This later evolved into adult male humor, characterized by put-downs that Shuster ascribed to latent aggression. Particularly pugnacious remarks, he said, came from young male motorists at the ages of peak virility.
But the combativeness waned as life wore on, Shuster found: older men gave more neutral or friendly remarks.
Dec 24, 2007
do I amuse you?
If you wonder why some guys are funny, and other guys not so much: blame testosterone.