[A] stimulating overview of what researchers have learned about why we laugh.
Scott Weems' Ha! is an excellent, non-technical and engaging introduction to the field of humor studies and a much needed book...clear, entertaining, and full of personal anecdotes that enliven the discussion.
DR. SALVATORE ATTARDO, DEAN OF HUMANITIES, SOCIAL SCIENCES, AND ARTS, TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY, AND EDITOR OF HUMOR: THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMOR RESEARCH
Fascinating...Humor is a response to inevitable conflict, [and] Weems makes this point beautifully.
Alva Noe, NPR
Weems renders extensive research accessible for a wide audience.
Ha! is a superb explanation of humor that is simultaneously entertaining and informative.
DR. JAMES REGGIA, NEUROLOGIST AND COMPUTER SCIENTIST, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
A serious book about the neuroscience of humor.
Move over Henri Bergson, Weems explains the science of laughter way more charmingly. Our neurons are still cracking up.
THOMAS CATHCART AND DANIEL KLEIN, AUTHORS OF "PLATO AND A PLATYPUS WALK INTO A BAR"
Did you know:
- The same chemicals that give us pleasure during humor are the ones activated by drugs and chocolate?
- People who watch funny movies have a higher tolerance for pain?
- Sense of humor is closely related to intelligence and problem solving ability?
- A huge international study found that the funniest animal is the duck? So if your favorite joke involves a talking horse, you might want to revise.
Humor, like pornography, is famously difficult to define. We know it when we see it, but is there a way to figure out what we really find funny—and why?
In this fascinating investigation into the science of humor and laughter, cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems uncovers what’s happening in our heads when we giggle, guffaw, or double over with laughter. While we typically think of humor in terms of jokes or comic timing, in Ha! Weems proposes a provocative new model. Humor arises from inner conflict in the brain, he argues, and is part of a larger desire to comprehend a complex world. Showing that the delight that comes with “getting” a punchline is closely related to the joy that accompanies the insight to solve a difficult problem, Weems explores why surprise is such an important element in humor, why computers are terrible at recognizing what’s funny, and why it takes so long for a tragedy to become acceptable comedic fodder. From the role of insult jokes to the benefit of laughing for our immune system, Ha! reveals why humor is so idiosyncratic, and why how-to books alone will never help us become funnier people.
Packed with the latest research, illuminating anecdotes, and even a few jokes, Ha! lifts the curtain on this most human of qualities. From the origins of humor in our brains to its life on the standup comedy circuit, this book offers a delightful tour of why humor is so important to our daily lives.