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Whats the difference between a crow? Both legs
are the same length, especially the right one! and kids are set off to two hours of laughter
about this nonsense joke.
A study stating that children laugh 400 times a day (i. e.
25 times more often than adults) has unfortunately turned
out to be a scientific hoax.
But the tendency is indeed
substantiated by research into humour: Children love to
laugh a lot, often about things that do not even raise a wry
grin from adults. They love funny sounds, language
games and the small misfortunes that happen to others
(Lyon, Kotthoff, Neuß). Humour is constructed on
different levels: in little details, in the plot, the character
or on the level of a single action (Schlote, Groß).
Producers know: Humour enhances a programmes
attractiveness, makes educational programmes more
interesting and often can serve as a way to tackle even
difficult issues (e. g. Kleeman, Cahn, Arriaga).
But do children actually find such programmes funny?
Reception studies reveal that children sometimes have a
good laugh about some parts of a programme, but find
other parts included by adult editors not to be funny at all.
A recent intercultural comparative study found that there
are a lot of similarities, but also culturally based differences.
Further, differences are not just in the understanding
of words, symbols or familiarity with the format;
everyday life experiences mean, for example, that South
African children will find it less funny than children in
other countries when food is wasted or things of value are
destroyed (Götz et al.).
Nevertheless, there are in fact some things all children
find attractive, and this is exactly the form of concrete
humour to which producers do not always attribute
In professional work for children it is necessary to perceive
these sometimes subtle differences and seek to
understand their forms of humour. For adults this is an
entertaining challenge and a genuine source of enrichment.
As Charlie Chaplin put it once:
Laugh and the world laughs with you.
Head of the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television
Humour and the young child
This review of research literature on humour presents many favourable aspects of humour and tackles the media influence on the development of childrens's humour.
Let's have a joke!
Children's use of jokes and comedy depends on their developmental level and on the "humour setting" in their respective culture - some age and intercultural differences are related here.
This study on primary-school children's everyday use of humour shows how children share humour production and reception, and in which types of humour they rejoice.
Maya Götz et al.
Is that funny anywhere else?
The 2005 IZI humour study set out for an international comparison of children's humour. 476 children in 5 countries judged children's programmes with the Fun-O-Meter and in group discussions.
What children's TV has to offer in the way of fun
This quantitative overview of programmes on German children's TV reveals that up to 25% hone in on humour as central theme, with private TV companies ahead of public broadcasters.
Laughing with educational programmes
Humour is often integrated in educational programmes, e.g. as a characteristic of the presenter. This study of 300 German children who watched 6 shows found out about how they laughed.
Pigeonholing comic elements in children's TV
How is humour written in the media text? Comic elements are the "ingredients" of humour communication, and we'll present a compilation of humour techniques in children's comedy.
I think that's funny, too ...
The editorial staff of children's comedy programmes can pinpoint relatively accurately the sequences that children laugh about. But their explanations are sometimes off the mark.
What's so funny in children's comedy?
This study of 115 German children and pre-teens offers some insights into what these viewers find funny in comedy programmes for children and what fails to make them laugh.
Sesame Street to SpongeBob
US-American producers reveal what they think is important for creating (internationally successful) comedy for children and whether there is a particular North American humour.
Fun, funny, and fearless
Cartoon Network's programming service Tickle U broadcasts humorous animation programmes for pre-schoolers. Why is the use of humour important for children's television?
Pepito, el Chavo, and Bob Esponja
This producer's perspective on Latin American children and their humour delivers insights into the joking and media diet of children in the Southern part of the Americas.
Wallace & Gromit
What's so funny? - Sheep circus
What's so funny? - Sushi siblings
The Little Rascals
What's so funny? - Boys in tutus
Open a Door in South Africa
What's so funny? - The leaf-green cap
Knowledge Makes You Go Ah!
What's so funny? - An earthworm as pet
What's so funny? - Big wig politics
What's so funny? - Hip weather forecast
Humour is encouraging!
A résumé of a conversation with Ragna Wallmark, Head of Children's and Youth Programmes, Utbildningsradion (UR), Stockholm, Sweden.
Humour is a buffer zone
A résumé of a conversation with Christophe Erbes, MA, the managing director of the JETIX Europe GmbH (formerly FOX KIDS Germany GmbH), responsible for the areas TV, Online and JCP JETIX Consumer Products.
Political humour is a powerful tool
A résumé of a conversation with Ian Prince, editor of Newsround on BBC1 Television, the children's news programme of the British Broadcasting Corporation, London, United Kingdom.