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Who are they calling funny?

In April's Kaleidoscope, we explored the different types of humor identified by kids, teens and parents. Having learned from part one of this study just how much individual senses of humor can vary, it was no surprise to learn that the media kids and teens found funny variy just as much. Part two of this study takes a look at who kids and teens find funny as well as what media content makes them laugh.
June 8, 2010

In April’s Kaleidoscope, we explored the different types of humor identified by kids, teens and parents. Having learned from part one of this study just how much individual senses of humor can vary, it was no surprise to learn that the media kids and teens found funny variy just as much. Part two of this study takes a look at who kids and teens find funny as well as what media content makes them laugh.

Throughout this research project, we continually commented on just how funny the kids and teens we talked to were and, as it turns out, they couldn’t agree more. When asked who their funniest family member is, kids and teens nominated themselves – particularly teen boys. Coming in a close second is Dad, holding true to our 2009 family research that found Dad plays the ‘fun’ role in the home. When asked how funny they think they are (using a scale of one to 11, where one equals not funny and 11 is really funny), respondents gave themselves a mean score of 8.6. Boys, however, consistently rated themselves slightly higher than girls did across all ages.

As for who tops the funny scale among actors and comedians, Adam Sandler sits at the top of kids’ and teens’ lists, followed by Jim Carey and George Lopez. When asked who or what kids and teens turn to when they’re in the mood to laugh, a full 60% cited TV as a favored outlet, followed by ‘talking to your friends’ (48%), ‘watching a movie’ (43%) and ‘going online’ (31%).

Taking a closer look at TV, movies and online content, consistent themes surfaced across the three platforms. When polled on what TV shows they laugh at the most, kids and teens ranked America’s Funniest Home Videos (AFHV) number one, followed by Family Guy and SpongeBob SquarePants. AFHV’s combination of unexpected situations and physical humor is what our respondents found appealing about the show. As one 14-year-old boy said, AFHV shows ‘people doing dumb things or random things happening – I laugh and I can’t stop watching.’ And while AFHV offers ‘real life,’ relatable humor, Family Guy and SpongeBob SquarePants’ appeal lies in their nonsensical approaches, often referred to as ‘outrageous’ and ‘stupid.’

When it comes to movies, 2009′s The Hangover was deemed the funniest film, especially among teen boys and girls. A 15-year-old girl said, ‘The humor is a little dirty, but the facial expressions are what truly make [The Hangover] hysterical. The reactions that the characters have are so unexpected, which adds to the humor.’ Alvin and the Chipmunks, The SpongeBob Movie, Madagascar, Up and Shrek also had more than several mentions as the funniest movie. Though the movies that skewed younger (ages eight to 10) tended to be animated, not all animated movies skewed young. This was clear in the cases of Alvin and the Chipmunks and The SpongeBob Movie, demonstrating the broad appeal of many modern-day animated films.

For its part, online content appears to offer the same realistic, unexpected humor found in AFHV (think comical videos featuring animals, babies and bloopers). And the internet, above other platforms, seems to be the most viral when it comes to discovering new content. Many of our respondents stated they heard about funny online content from a friend or sibling. Furthermore, half of all respondents said they discover new content from the source itself, randomly exploring recommended or suggested videos posted on any given site. In turn, they share their discoveries with friends and family. Similarly, parents are also quick to tell their kids about a funny video they may have come across.

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