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    Why Is It So Difficult To Remember A Good Joke?

    By Margarita Nahapetyan

    Have you ever noticed that it is much easier to remember bad jokes, rather than good and funny ones? Well, the scientists now claim that they finally have unraveled the reason why it happens so.

    A new study has found that the best jokes are very hard to remember as they work by ruining the listener's usual thought patterns, making them inherently less memorable, but more funny. On the contrary, bad, or clichéd jokes are easier to recall because their structure, punch line and final surprise are very predictable.

    According to Robert Provine, professor of psychology at Maryland University, USA, a success and popularity of a joke is very strongly connected with a difficulty to remember it. The punch line should always involve an unexpected culmination, said the professor, who is currently investigating this phenomenon in his book about laughter.

    Prof. Provine offers a pretty simple explanation, bringing an example of a list of flowers, such as roses, daffodils, carnations, petunias, which suddenly also included brick. He says that hearing brick as one of the flowers is very unexpected and funny. And most people are more likely to remember "brick", rather than the correct list of flowers. The scientist also believes that good and funny jokes work just in the opposite way to poetry or a piece of music. According to him, it is much more easier to follow and remember a song because of the rhyme and rhythm, which does not work for a good joke. When people hear something really funny, they are not able to recall all of the content at a later time.

    Ricky Gervais, the British comedian and a star of The Office, agreed that funny jokes were hard to remember, and compared them with a magician's tricks. When the final culmination comes, people just concentrate all their attention entirely on it and forget already what the magician had been doing before or where he had his hands before. Gervais said that in spite of the fact that jokes often worked by directing the people's attention away from the punch line, in some cases, remembering the denouement could act as a reminder of the rest of the gag.

    Some scientists contrast the unexpected turn of a good joke with the way that a piece of dialogue, music or a poem can be remembered and recalled more easily because they work in harmony with human memory patterns. According to them, human brain has a strong ability to organize information, as well as the ability to perceive in patterns, and music "plays into that inclination." That is why it is much easier for kids, for example, to learn the 26 letters of the alphabet if it is being presented to them as a song.

    Daniel Schacter, professor of psychology at Harvard University and the author of The Seven Sins of Memory, has his own, a little different theory, saying that good jokes are often dependent of subtle nuances and timings and these are the things that individuals find difficult to precisely remember. He said that people do always much better when it comes to remember the general meaning of the things, such as remembering anecdotes. As to jokes - here they have to remember details like nuance and timing.

    Gervais said that the ability to remember jokes depends on every individual case and differs from person to person, concluding that "Some people are bad at remembering jokes - but they could just be stupid."

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