Conference Paper


To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.


Several studies have shown the positive outcomes of using humor in the classroom on students’ learning results. Teachers regularly apply humor to make students laugh by being funny and using humorous teaching materials. Their experiences and outcomes of their attempts were discussed in literature and previous presentations at ICERI conferences. Our approach shifts the view from the teacher (trying to make students laugh) to the students (trying to make them be funny) through a course design that empowers students to discover their ‘funny bones’. This paper offers insights into the course design. It illustrates how we enabled students to create their own comedy scripts in the style of late-night comedy shows, such as "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" or "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj". Based on the experiences and evaluations of three courses, we can say that (1) humor is a craft (and not a talent) and needs practicing, (2) by writing comedy scripts, students gain a deeper understanding of a certain topic than by writing standard seminar papers, (3) humor can be integrated into courses that are not genuinely funny. Students reported that our course helped them to boost their creativity and imagination.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
This three-year study evaluated the effectiveness of 10 system-atic strategies for using humor as a teaching tool: (a) humorous material on syllabi; (b) descriptors, cautions, and warnings on the covers of handouts; (c) opening jokes; (d) skits/dramatiza-tions; (e) spontaneous humor; (f) humorous questions; (g) humorous examples; (h) humorous problem sets; (i) Jeopar-dy! ™ -type reviews for exams; and (j) humorous material on exams. Student ratings at the end of three undergraduate and five graduate statistics courses assessed the extent to which each strategy reduced anxiety, improved the ability to learn, and made it possible to perform at one's best on problems and exams. Median student ratings of the three outcomes for all of the strategies across all of the classes over three years indicated consistent evaluations of Very Effective to Extremely Effec-tive.
Full-text available
The primary goal of this project is to provide a summary of extant research regarding humor in the classroom, with an emphasis on identifying and explaining inconsistencies in research findings and offering new directions for future studies in this area. First, the definitions, functions, and main theories of humor are reviewed. Next, the paper explains types of humorous instructional communication. Third, the empirical findings of both the source and receiver perspectives are reviewed. Finally, this paper concludes with advice for educators and suggests potential future research directions for scholars.
Full-text available
Candidate appearances on entertainment television have become a staple of recent presidential campaigns, yet little is known about their effect on voters. Many assume that they leave viewers uninformed and focused on the candidate’s personal image. In this article, the author investigates this idea with an experiment using John Kerry’s 2004 appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. He finds that—contrary to popular expectations—late night interviews have particular features that can, at times, engage otherwise politically disinterested viewers, causing them to process and recall substantive policy information.
Full-text available
High on any required reading list for college-level student affairs officers and high school counselors is "Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation" by Neil Howe and William Strauss (2000). Experts on generational change in the United States, the authors contend that the current generation of college-age and pre-college-age students possesses many unique qualities that will both delight and challenge professionals working at various stages of the educational continuum. According to Howe and Strauss (2000), members of five generations comprise the vast majority of the current U.S. population (with birth dates listed): the G.I. generation (1901-1924), the Silent generation (1925-1942), the Boom generation (1943-1960), Generation X (1961-1981), and the Millennial generation (1982-2002). This newest generational cohort, the Millennials, builds upon the values instilled by the Baby Boomers while also filling the cultural void left by the departing G.I. generation.
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to examine the psychometric properties of the newly developed Humor Assessment (HA) instrument. Previous research (Wrench & McCroskey, 2001) noted a construct validity problem with the Humor Orientation (HO) scale created by M. Booth‐Butterfield and S. Booth‐Butterfield (1991). This study examined the relationships between the HA, which corrects the construct validity problem seen in the HO, and affective learning, nonverbal immediacy, cognitive learning, learning loss, student motivation, and teacher credibility.
Full-text available
The humor effect refers to a robust finding in memory research that humorous information is easily recalled, at the expense of recall of nonhumorous information that was encoded in close temporal proximity. Previous research suggests that memory retrieval processes underlie this effect. That is, free recall is biased toward humorous information, which interferes with the retrieval of nonhumorous information. The present research tested an additional explanation that has not been specifically addressed before: Humor receives enhanced attention during information encoding, which decreases attention for context information. Participants observed humorous, nonhumorous positive, and nonhumorous neutral texts paired with novel consumer brands, while their eye movements were recorded using eye-tracker technology. The results confirmed that humor receives prolonged attention relative to both positive and neutral nonhumorous information. This enhanced attention correlated with impaired brand recognition.
He has written and produced comedy/talk shows for over fifteen years. Now four-time Emmy winner Joe Toplyn reveals his proven methods of writing for late-night television in this one-of-a-kind insider’s guide. Toplyn analyzes each type of comedy piece in the late-night TV playbook and takes you step-by-step through the process of writing it. His detailed tips, techniques, and rules include: • 6 characteristics every good monologue joke topic must have • 6 specific ways to generate punch lines • 12 tools for making your jokes their funniest • 7 types of desk pieces and how to create them • 9 steps to writing parodies and other sketches • How to go after a writing job in late night • PLUS a complete sample comedy/talk show submission packet. Also use this comprehensive manual to write short-form comedy for the internet, sketch shows, magazines, reality shows, radio, advertising, and any other medium.
Comedy news show Last Week Tonight, hosted by John Oliver, expands the genre of satirical news by incorporating the rhetorical style of trolling. The show’s host coordinates raids, propagates memes, engages in overtly agonistic behavior, and uses irreverence to reveal flaws in systems of power. These trolling techniques provoke responses from both the target of the trolling and from the audience that wants to participate in the trolling. The responses generate news cycles for topics that may be receiving very little media coverage. As a result, Last Week Tonight’s trolling techniques function rhetorically to amplify attention and engage the audience in social activism.
This study considers the effects of exposure to political satire versus traditional news on issue-specific learning and engagement. Using data from an experiment conducted in January 2016 (N = 296), we employ ANOVA analysis to test the differential effects of exposure to net neutrality coverage from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight versus ABC News on knowledge gain, issue importance, and perceived issue difficulty. Pairwise comparisons suggest that political comedy is as good a source as news for knowledge gain, but that news exposure is more important for evaluations of issue importance. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings given the increasing size of the political satire audience and the viral reach of these comedy programs.
The use of humour in teaching and learning can be contentious, with some authors suggesting that the efficacy of humorous materials is mediated by the culture of the student. Nevertheless, humour represents a potential vehicle for the introduction of active learning in a classroom setting, as judicious use of humour may lead to a more relaxed learning atmosphere and greater student engagement. This article describes how humour was used to good effect in creating a suite of online materials designed to enhance the academic English skills of international students. The materials, funded through a grant from the Office for Learning and Teaching and now openly accessible on the English for Uni website, were developed using an action research process. This involved an iterative process of designing, trialling and evaluating the resources to ensure that humour was used appropriately. In the final stages, Biggs’ Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome taxonomy was also used to evaluate student learning. The results show that the materials improved students’ understanding of the topics presented on the site and that the element of humour stimulated student interest in learning.
During the 2000 national election season, there was unprecedented attention paid by the media, and by presidential campaigns, to the political content of late night comedy shows such as the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the Late Show with David Letterman. Focusing on the more than thirteen thousand jokes about U.S. political figures from 1996 to 2000 on late night comedy talk shows, this study explores the choice of targets and subjects of political humor. The authors find that late night humor is heavily centered on the president and top presidential contenders, that the various late night shows tend to exhibit the same patterns in their choice of targets, and that the humor is generally devoid of issue content.
Recent survey data suggest that at the same time as young Americans are abandoning traditional news media, they are more likely to identify late-night comedy programs, particularly Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as a destination for learning about election campaigns. In order to explore how journalists are responding to the idea of a comedy program as a news source, this article analyzes discourse about The Daily Show as it appeared in the trade and popular presses between January 1999 and March 2004. Emerging from this analysis is the way in which journalists are using The Daily Show as an occasion to reflect upon the nature of their work and the current state of their profession. For many journalists, The Daily Show has prompted reconsideration of the once rigid distinction between news and entertainment and of the historical conventions used to enforce this distinction.
It is often claimed that humour is a desirable characteristic of teaching and learning. Justifications for the use of humour include the promotion of understanding, holding the attention of students, managing disruptive behaviour, creating a positive attitude to the subject matter, and reducing anxiety. Empirical studies of the connections between humour and learning are reviewed. These indicate that humour, provided it is not used to excess, can increase attention and interest and help to illustrate and reinforce what is being taught. It is suggested that the presentation of humorous material involves skills which can be learnt through practice and that staff development programmes should provide opportunities for academics to acquire such skills.
In this study, we investigated the use of humor in college classrooms. We examined how students perceived professors' uses of various types of humor during class and the types of humor that students and faculty recommend for use in class. We also correlated the way professors incorporated humor into their class lectures with their perceived competence and effectiveness, and we investigated whether students felt their learning experience improved when their teachers used humor. We also discussed topics such as ''scarcasm,'' professor gender, student and faculty support of humor, and humor in classrooms, tests, and the rest of life. Humor appropriately used has the potential to humanize, illustrate, defuse, encourage, reduce anxiety, and keep people thinking.
In a field study, 70 college students unobtrusively tape-recorded 1 class presentation and evaluated the teacher as to appeal, competence, delivery, and teaching effectiveness. The presentations were content analyzed to identify key features relating to humor usage. Following a factor analysis of aspects of evaluation, correlation coefficients were computed between the teachers' frequency of use of the various types of humor and students' evaluations of their professors. Results indicate that for male teachers, usage of humor was generally positively related to appeal, delivery, and teaching effectiveness. For female teachers, only the use of hostile humor was associated with enhanced appeal. In contrast, female teachers' usage of some nonhostile forms of humor was associated with loss of appeal. (36 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Two studies tested the effect of humor, embedded in learning materials, on task interest. College student participants (N Study 1=359, N Study 2=172) learned a new math technique with the presence or absence of humor in the learning program and/or test instructions. Individual interest in math was measured initially and also tested as a factor. The results showed that the effect of humor in the learning program depended on individual interest in math. Humor raised task interest for those with low individual interest in math but slightly lowered task interest for those with high individual interest in math. Mediating variables of this effect were tested across both studies. Although the mediating variables showed inconsistency, humor may affect task interest through affective responses immediately following the instruction, rather than in subsequent interaction with the task. KeywordsHumor-Individual interest-Situational interest-Mathematics
Best and worst university instructors: The opinions of graduate students
  • S B Fortson
  • W E Brown
Fortson, S. B., & Brown, W. E, "Best and worst university instructors: The opinions of graduate students.," College Student Journal, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 572-576, 1998.
  • N Chaniotakis
N. Chaniotakis, "TEACHERS' PERCEPTIONS OF HUMOR IN TEACHING," in ICERI2010 Proceedings, 2340-1095.
  • D Ong
Saturday Night Live and Weekend Update
  • A Reincheld
A. Reincheld, "Saturday Night Live and Weekend Update," Journalism History, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 190-197, 2006, doi: 10.1080/00947679.2006.12062688.
Laughter, Learning, or Enlightenment? Viewing and Avoidance Motivations Behind The Daily Show and The Colbert Report
  • D G Young
D. G. Young, "Laughter, Learning, or Enlightenment? Viewing and Avoidance Motivations Behind The Daily Show and The Colbert Report," Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 153-169, 2013, doi: 10.1080/08838151.2013.787080.
Comedy writing secrets: The best-selling guide to writing funny and getting paid for it
  • M Shatz
  • M Helitzer
M. Shatz and M. Helitzer, Comedy writing secrets: The best-selling guide to writing funny and getting paid for it, 3rd ed. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Books, 2016. [Online]. Available: http://
The hidden tools of comedy: The serious business of being funny
  • S Kaplan
S. Kaplan, The hidden tools of comedy: The serious business of being funny. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese Productions, 2013.