Why Are Math Jokes Funny?
There’s a demotivational poster that reads:
If you get them, you probably don’t have friends.
You may not have friends, but if you laugh at a math joke, then you have something in common with the person who wrote, forwarded, or posted the joke. Is that person a friend? Maybe not, but she is at least a kindred spirit.
Harvey Penick wrote the book And If You Play Golf, You’re My Friend. For our crowd, if you laugh at math jokes, then you’re my friend.
This got me to thinking about what makes a math joke funny and why we enjoy them. I found my favorite answer to this question in the comments section of a webcomic. One comment suggested that part of the reason we find math jokes funny is that we “like inside jokes, probably because they exclude other people.” But a response to that comment suggested that shared dorkiness may be the reason:
It’s not that you laugh and think, “Neener, neener — I get it, and you don’t.” It’s that you realize you are not alone, and that sensation is bliss.
The mention of bliss reminded me of a joke…
Would you rather have eternal bliss or a ham sandwich?
A ham sandwich, because nothing is better than eternal bliss, and a ham sandwich is better than nothing.
If you laughed at that joke, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone and that you’re my friend.