It’s Saturday night at the Metropolitan Room, a comedy club in New York City. Host Jimmy Failla is warming up the crowd.
“Where you guys from?” he asks one group in the audience. “Boston? Home of the Red Sox. Personally, we’d prefer you rooted for the Taliban!”
There are 50 or 60 people in the audience, sipping cocktails. Failla has a system. He asks people where they’re from. Most are locals. He then hits them with something they can relate to.
“When you drive in New York, this is the only city in the world where you signal after you’ve already made it into the next lane,” Failla quips. “Anywhere else in the world you want to go left, you put on your blinker like, ‘Hey, I’m going left.’ But if you do that here, they block you. So instead you gotta go left and [then] put on your blinker like [you’re saying], ‘Ha, ha! I made it!’ “
There’s a man at one of the tables in the darkened room. Robert Lynch is a local. He’s here because he loves comedy. But he’s also here because he’s a researcher who studies why people laugh.
“It was interesting to me to try to deconstruct a joke and find out what it is that was making people laugh,” says Lynch, about why he decided to study humor. He’s currently finishing his doctoral degree at Rutgers University.
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