As business, entertainment, and comedy become ever more intertwined, many top business speakers are turning to humor as the ultimate tool for being memorable amid the ringtones and vibrations of modern life.
If we apply a laughs per minute scoring system to Ken Robinson's talk, the most viewed on TED at the time of writing, he gets enough laughs to rival an up-and-coming comedian. Recording how many times the audience laughed as a group, we get approximately 2.8 laughs per minute. For comparison, when the same system was reported in Forbes, as applied by LoveFilm, a London-based video streaming service, these were the funniest movies of all time. Importantly, this does not take into account how big the laughs were but just the frequency.
- Airplane!--3 laughs/minute
- The Hangover--2.4 laughs/minute
- The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!--2.3 laughs/minute
- Superbad--1.9 laughs/minute
- Borat--1.7 laughs/minute
- Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy--1.6 laughs/minute
- American Pie--1.5 laughs/minute
- Bridesmaids--1.4 laughs/minute
- Shaun of the Dead--1.3 laughs/minute
- Life of Brian--1.2 laughs/minute
On a laughs-per-minute basis, Ken Robinson is funnier than The Hangover and, needless to say ... a lot more informative! Combine his high amount of laughter with passion and insightful, inspirational information and we have the ingredients of something really powerful. Is it any wonder we all love it? And he is not alone. Every one of the current top 10 most-viewed TED talks uses humor, and the seven below at levels high enough to make you think twice before looking to a comedy movie to make you LOL.
7 Funny and Informative TED Talks:
1. Mary Roach: 10 things you didn't know about orgasm--3.4 laughs/minute
2. Seth Godin: This is broken--3.4 laughs/minute
3. Maysoon Zayid: I got 99 problems ... palsy is just one--4 laughs/minute
4. Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?--2.8 laughs/minute
5. Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work--2.9 laughs/minute
6. Julia Sweeney: It's time for "The Talk"--4.6 laughs/minute
7. Bob Mankoff: Anatomy of a New Yorker cartoon--2.9 laughs/minute
Mary Roach's talk about orgasm generated more laughs per minute than the funniest movie ever made. (Note for the men on this one: If you are ever asked whether you are familiar with Roach's talk while in female company, and you are not, at least nod enthusiastically and fake it.) "The Happy Secret to Better Work" delivered by a researcher generates more laughs per minute than all but one of the world's funniest movies. "This Is Broken" by Seth Godin generated nearly three times the frequency of laughs as Life of Brian, a timeless 1979 British comedy film starring and written by a whole comedy group.
Yes, these numbers are loose, don't factor in an allowance for the varied running times, and don't allow for the level of laughter generated, but the underlying point is there for all to see: Top TED speakers are using humor, and if you need some LOLs to accompany your information, they may just keep you away from the movies.