Humor scientists recently identified the funniest joke in the world. It goes like this: Two hunters are out hunting. One of them falls over and seems not to be breathing. His friend calls 911 and cries, "What do I do?" "Well, first, let’s make sure he’s dead," says the operator. There is silence, and then a shot rings out. The hunter returns to the phone and says, "Okay, now what?"
More people titter at that than any joke ever written. Glad that’s settled.
So we set out our travel scientists to find the funniest place in the world. Not Intercourse, Pennsylvania or Bummerville, California or even Slickpoo, Idaho. (Or Roachtown, IL, Sac City, IA, Flush, KS, Beaverlick, KY, or Boring, OR)
We’re talking places where you’re most likely to pee yourself laughing. Where to go if you want to steam-pleat your smile lines or show off your new dental work.
Sunset Strip, West Hollywood, California
With the quality of comedy clubs right here, the Sunset strip certainly has the pedigree for one of the funniest places in the world. Comics can play no room more prestigious than the Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store is where comics like Jay Leno, Tim Allen and Whoopi Goldberg ply their trade, but you do run the risk of Carlos Mencia doing a celebrity drop-in and ruining your night.
LA is chock full of comedians trying to become household names, so if you’re looking for cheaper laughs, check out one of the lesser-known clubs like the Downtown Comedy Club or the HaHa Comedy Club in Burbank.
>>book flights to Los Angeles and read about Getting Around LA
International Comedy Festivals in Montreal, Edinburgh, and Melbourne
The big comedy festivals set up huge tents and stages, invite hundreds of comedians, wind them up and let them go. The result is a whirlwind few days of jokes and laughs that will leave you sore in the laugh muscles without the proper preparation.
The Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal is the biggest, with no compunctions about telling you so and a lot of celebrities on the bill. One of the great things about these festivals though is finding new up and coming comedians that no one knows, so you might be better served at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest (warning: all kinds of theater present) or the Melbourne Comedy Festival.
But stand-up doesn’t sit well with some people. If one guy with a microphone isn’t your thing, maybe a group of people with no microphones is the ticket. Chicago has earned a reputation as the epicenter of the improv comedy movement and now folks are throwing out suggestions all over the Windy City. Part of improv’s appeal is that it’s not rehearsed, repeatable or practiced by Carlos Mencia, so you might give it a try if you find the average stand-up too crass or predictable.
The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater group (which sends folks to Saturday Night Live every few years) has become the most storied franchise, even opening locations in New York and Los Angeles, but downtown Chicago has improv galore with comedy showcases and featured troupes every few nights battling it out for recognition.
>>book a flight to Chicago and search for sightseeing tours in Chicago
Manhattan, New York
The Manhattan comedy scene is just as prestigious as LA, but with different accents. Clubs like Caroline’s on Broadway and the Comedy Cellar have been around through several generations of comedians and survived the rise and fall in popularity of stand-up comedy in general.
The down and depressed can also find laughter at Gotham Comedy Club or Stand-Up New York. These clubs feature some of the biggest names right now, or tour some of the most historically significant comedy sites, such as the Cafe Au Go Go, (where Lenny Bruce was arrested in 1964 for profanity) or the Gaslight Theater, (where Bill Cosby got his start) or the Village Gate (where Richard Pryor battled stage fright through his first few performances).
>>book a cheap flight to New York and read about the Things to do in New York
I don’t get Bollywood comedies either, but the folks in Mumbai, India ARE onto something that has me chuckling. Laughter Yoga combines prescribed movements with artificial laughter techniques that turns fake laughter into the real thing. Fake it until you make it, they say and apparently the health benefits are the same as if you really find something funny.
Practitioners claim that this group activity wakes you up in the morning and keeps you fresh all day, and creator Madan Kataria had good luck reducing depression among prisoners. I’ve only ever spent one night in jail, but this sounds way better than the tickle fight we had.
>>search for India Airfare and read our Mumbai Travel Guide
Read more about:
- 13 of the Best Outdoor Summer Festivals in the World
- 7 Crazy Ways to De-Stress on Your Travels
- Seven Great Beer and Wine Festivals Around the World
Photo credits: West Hollywood by San Marcos on Flickr , Edinburgh Fringe Festival by the Wide Wide World on Flickr , Chicago, Illinois by Elizabeth McQuern on Flickr , Gotham Club, Manhattan by mrtruffle on Flickr , Laughter Yoga in India by Blind Grasshopper on Flickr