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Did You Hear The One About Portland Being Funny?

OPB | April 21, 2014 3:12 p.m. | Portland

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So a team of researchers from the University of Colorado’s Humor Research Lab walks into a bar …

OK, fine, there was no bar.

But I’m serious, no joke, there really are some Humor Lab researchers, and they’ve developed an algorithm to rank the 10 funniest cities in America.

Surprise, surprise Portland made the list at No. 5, behind Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and Washington — but ahead of New York and Los Angeles.

Portland ranks No. 5 as the funniest city in America.

Portland ranks No. 5 as the funniest city in America.

University of Colorado Humor Research Lab

As The New York Times reports, the findings are based on surveys of residents and of comedians; number of visits to comedy websites, radio stations, comedy clubs per square mile; and native-born comedians per capita.

Portland, Ore., never would have made the list five years ago, said Stacey Hallal, founder and artistic director of the Curious Comedy Theater, but the “Portlandia” TV series suggests how the city has been transformed since then. “People come here to be creative,” she said. “Portland loves the weird.”

Of course there are some critics of the rankings, including other humor professionals (again, not a joke; there are humor researchers, presidents, professors, etc.):

Bruce F. Michelson, a University of Illinois English professor and the president of the American Humor Studies Association, is another skeptic. “What’s a plausible metric for funniest?” he said. “The number of solvent improv comedy clubs per square mile? Or should we fold in the annual tally of unintentionally hilarious news stories about state and city politics?”

Sure, everyone has a different sense of humor, making it difficult to have an accurate ranking system. However, I know from my very brief time living in Portland that residents cherish any ranking in which we beat Seattle!

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