“What do you mean funny?! Funny how?! How am I funny?!”

Researchers at the University of Michigan are taking seruouly funny cartoons very seriously.

They’re using the recently published “The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker” to try to figure out what’s funny and why.

New Yorker cartoon editor Robert Mankoff suggests that gag cartoons are perfect for this kind of research. He likens them to a fruit fly “because the chromosomes are not complicated, and because its short life cycle makes it ideal for following hereditary changes. Well, the ideas in cartoons are like that: easily visible. And the ideas that prompted them have an easily observable life cycle.”

(Interestingly enough, Mankoff also later refers to himself as a “gadfly” in regards to his role in the project. Perhaps some pest issues at the New Yorker?)

There’s a great article about it in The New York Times. Check it out!