Bombshell study: People really don't like bad jokes

Bell said she was surprised by the rudeness of responses. “I thought, well, everybody’s had the experience of trying to be funny and having it not be funny,” she said. “I wouldn’t expect that people would twist the knife and make you feel even worse.”

But that’s exactly what many did.

People responded with insults, sarcasm, fake laughter and a host of other comebacks. These harsh responses might stem from the fact that jokes are usually an interruption to normal conversation, Bell said. When a joke is actually funny, listeners don’t mind the disruption because there is a payoff: humor. Without the humor, listeners may become annoyed at the lame crack.

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