Denver Dad Joel Warner has a new book coming out on April 1. The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner might provide the intelligent laugh you need today. Check their website to see if there is an event near you soon.
1. In researching and writing about humor around the world, what did you learn about humor and parenting?
One thing I learned is that parents like us could learn a thing or two about humor from our children. Studies of five-year-olds have shown they laugh a whopping 7.7 times per hour, while the average American adult laughs just 18 times a day. Maybe we all need to get back to giggling at the stupid silly stuff.
2. Which has taught you more about humor–parenting or world travels focused on the study of humor? Why?
I might have visited Japanese game show sets and compared notes with political satirists in Palestine, but being a parent has taught me so much more about humor. Nothing teaches you how to focus on the lighter side of life than when your five-year-old projectile-vomits on you in the middle of the night after being up for three straight hours.
3. How old were your kids when you started this book and how old are they now?
My son Gabriel was three when I started this book, and he’s six now. My co-author Peter McGraw asked me jokingly, for the sake of the book, to hold off on having any more until we were done. I did so—we turned in the manuscript on December 31, 2012, and my wife gave birth to our daughter Charlotte six days later.
4. Did studying humor take any of the funny out of it?
Definitely not. Now, more than ever, I appreciate just how difficult it is to make things funny. It’s a tightrope act, a delicate mixture of pleasure and pain. To me, the best comedy performances are virtuoso acts.
Plus, we travelled the world, interviewing rat-tickling researchers and asking Louis C.K. inappropriate questions about his anatomy. Now I have a lot more material to makes things funny myself.
5. Which chapter of the book most appeals to children and/or families? Why?
The one that describes us flying into the heart of the Amazon in a Peruvian Air Force cargo plane, accompanied by Patch Adams and 100 hospital clowns. We explored the concept of laughter as medicine, how humor can help people cope – whether that means cracking a joke to help a child get over a tantrum, or learning to laugh at the crayon drawings the kids have left up and down the dining room wall.
Plus, clowns are family friendly, even when they’re sweaty and smelly in the heart of the Amazon.
The Humor Code goes on sale April Fool’s Day and will be sold online and in a bookstore near you. Seriously.