Do some people truly have a “funny face”?
We find male comedians with feminine features funnier.
Which comedian has the most natural “comedy face”? Ricky Gervais.
What exactly makes someone funny? Is it comedic timing? Punch lines? Rubber chickens and whoopee cushions? According to Dr. Anthony Little, psychologist at the University of Stirling in Scotland and an expert in how we perceive facial features, it’s a collection of specific facial characteristics linked to our perception of others. In other words, just as chicks are wired to seek the shape of seeds, so do we innately find a certain type of face comedic.
After scanning 179 facial features of twenty comedians, Dr. Little found the winning combination most likely to produce a laugh: round face, small forehead, large eyes, high cheekbones, wide nose, and big lips. Not exactly alpha-male characteristics, right? In the Independent, he explains, “The features most likely to mark out male comedians for success are predominately soft and feminine.” Little goes on to explain why: “in the same way that infants are pre-programmed to respond to the warmth and approachability of a mother’s face, soft, feminine features put us at ease and encourage us to relax. This is conducive to laughter.”
Who has the “perfect comedy face?” Using his research, Little reports optimal humor characteristics in comedian Ricky Gervais, star the of British television comedy series The Office. His face, above all others, prepares us to laugh. While brevity might be the soul of wit, apparently Gervais is the face.
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