Nations differ in sense of humour due to genetics

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London, Mar 10 (UNI) Ever wondered why the British are obsessed with sarcasm in their humour while the Americans are baffled by it? The answer lies in genetic and environmental differences, researchers claim.

Dr Rod Martin, who led the research, said, ''It is possible that differences exist between nations in their sense of humour and that these may be the results of different genetic and environmental differences.'' His researchers, from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, surveyed 5,000 people-- 2,000 pairs of twins in Britain and 500 pairs in North America.

Positive humour, which looked on the bright side of life, was found in twins of both sides.

However, negative humour, ranging from gentle teasing to racist and sexist humiliation, was only genetically linked to Britain.

Even when evidence of cruel jokes was found among the US twins, it was judged to have been ''learnt'' rather than inherent behaviour, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Dr Martin said television shows like Fawlty Towers, Blackadder and The Office, proved how Britons enjoyed cruelty more than those from other countries.

He said the difference between the character played by Ricky Gervais in the British version of The Office and the US version illustrated the point.

British comedian Charlie Higson agreed there were unique aspects to the British sense of fun but said US comedy was wittier and more sophisticated.

He said, ''What the Americans don't understand is the British desire to keep putting themselves down, but they fully understand irony.'' ''Their humour is considerably more sophisticated than British humour. Look at their sitcoms-- the level of wit and sophistication in Friends-- we don't have anything to match that,'' he said.

''Ours tend to be about silly people doing silly things whereas in the US it's clever people doing clever things,'' he added.


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