Чудесный момент из 'English delight'. Не удержалась и набила за отсутствием текста в сети. В пунктуации Фрай не виноват. We, British, are trained in puns from an early age. Who amongst us does not have experience from an early childhood of the joke inside the Christmas cracker. It's as much a part of the festive season as turkey and mince pies, holly and mistletoe, and a lack of snow on the roof of the London meteorological office. In 2006 Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire conducted a survey on cracker jokes through the Daily Telegraph. So he is the most appropriate pundit to whom we can turn.
- One thing we found out straight away is that Christmas cracker jokes really are not very funny at all. So we had in fact 65% of our participants never once ticked the 'yes, this is a funny gag' box. So we are really talking about series of alleged jokes that aren't funny. Which is a kind of weird category of jokes.So, why, - one may pertinently ask - do we persist in doing it?
- I think that is a really interesting question. Why is it that this tradition would survive for so long when it doesn't make people laugh? Clearly it has nothing to do with the laughter. I suspect what's happening is that you have a shared experience around the table. That everyone is sitting there, somebody tells a joke and it is a natural psychology of humour that any joke will make some people laugh and not others. Which isn't a shared experience, isn't a bonding experience. But if you tell a bad joke - everyone groans, we are all in it together. And it also takes the pressure off the joke teller. If you got a good joke and you tell it badly, everyone goes on: oh, you've just messed it up - and you feel bad at the family table. If you got a bad joke in your hand, you can't tell it badly. It's a bad joke. If no one responds, no one laughs - you blame the piece of paper, not yourself. So I think there is an interesting social psychology. That will also explain why so many cracker jokes take the form they do: a question. Inviting the others to participate in hesiting(?) a guess and an answer that we can all groan at. Dr. Wiseman as is fitting the pungent observation on why this appeals to us, British.
- I suspect what's going on is that it's a weird British celebration of failure. The Americans, for example, don't have the cracker tradition at all. I spoke about our results on American radio and they couldn't get the head around the idea of a joke that did not work. And they were fascinated by that. The host kept coming back and say 'No-no-no, let me get this right - you've got jokes that aren't funny and you all sit around telling them?' I said: 'yes, that's right, that's the tradition!'. 'Why would you do that?' He was completely perplexed. I think it's about Brits kind of going: 'It's all right to fail.' Failure is a bonding excercise, we are all in it together. We are not about picking up one person around the table and going: 'You are the best! You know, you are the successful person we all going to look up to!' It is this rather weird British celebration of failure.