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This American Life - How Married People Tell Stories

The public radio show This American Life has just begun its second season as a TV program on Showtime. If you're not watching, you're missing out. (Or you can't afford Showtime -- and you can't be blamed for that.) But today you can get a little free content from the show, in the form of an animated segment that hasn't aired yet.

But first, a little more about the new season. To mark the beginning of its second season on TV, TAL hosted a live event in movie theaters around the US -- though for those of us on the West Coast it was tape-delayed by three hours. The show consisted of a live performance of the radio show by Ira Glass in front of a theater audience, filmed and simulcast to movie theaters. It was an interesting format, combining stage show (with various guests and interactive bits, including questions from the audience) and radio show, and even showing Glass flubbing a few cues as he mixed the music and interview clips live.

One of the best pieces shown that night was an animated segment by Chris Ware and John Kuramoto, illustrating a story that originally appeared on the radio show some time back. In the segment, NPR's Robert Krulwich (whom you may know from Radiolab) and his wife tell a story they've been telling all their married lives...then talk about which one of them has it all wrong.

Although this segment won't hit Showtime until June 1 (in the fifth episode of the second season, "Every Marriage is a Courtroom"), you can watch it now:

See also: This American Life Season 1 on iTunes. ($10.99 in the US for the six-episode season.)

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Watch 18 Minutes of Julia Louis-Dreyfus Seinfeld Bloopers
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Sometimes you just need to settle in and watch professional actors cracking up, over and over. That's what we have for you today.

In the two videos below, we get a total of 18 minutes of Seinfeld bloopers, specifically focused on Julia Louis-Dreyfus. When Louis-Dreyfus cracks up, Seinfeld can't help but make it worse, goading her. It's delightful.

Sample quote (during an extended break):

Seinfeld: "We won an Emmy, you know."

Louis-Dreyfus: "Yeah, but I didn't."

Her individual Seinfeld Emmy arrived in 1996; the show started winning in 1992. But in September 2017, Louis-Dreyfus—who turns 57 years old today—set a couple of Emmy records when she won her sixth award for playing Selina Meyer on Veep.

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The Funniest Word in the English Language? 'Booty,' According to New Survey
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Some words, regardless of their meaning, are simply more chuckle-worthy than others. To determine which expressions in the English language are truly the most comical, Smithsonian reports that psychologists at the University of Warwick in the UK conducted a survey in which they asked people to rate the “humor value” of a sampling of chosen words. They recently published their findings in the journal Behavior Research Methods.

The researchers selected nearly 5000 words, and then used Amazon’s online crowdsourcing tool Mechanical Turk to ask more than 800 individuals to rank the humor value of 211 randomly chosen words from the list, on a scale from 1 (humorless) to 5 (humorous). Likely not surprising to anyone with younger siblings, the funniest word ended up being “booty,” with an average ranking of 4.32. In descending order, the remaining top 12 words—which all received a score of 3.9 or higher—were “tit,” “booby,” “hooter,” “nitwit,” “twit,” “waddle,” “tinkle,” “bebop,” “egghead,” “ass,” and “twerp.”

Why these words are so funny remains fuzzy. But when they analyzed their findings according to age and gender, the researchers did find that sexually suggestive words like “orgy” and “bondage” tended to tickle the funny bones of men, as did the words “birthmark,” “brand,” “chauffeur,” “doze,” “buzzard,” “czar,” “weld,” “prod,” “corn,” and “raccoon.”

Meanwhile, women tended to laugh at the words “giggle,” “beast,” “circus,” “grand,” “juju,” “humbug,” “slicker,” “sweat,” “ennui,” “holder,” “momma,” and “sod.” As for people under the age of 32, they were amused by “goatee,” “joint,” and “gangster,” while older participants liked “squint,” “jingle,” “burlesque,” and “pong.” Across the board, all parties were least amused by words like “rape,” “torture,” and “torment.”

Although humor is complex and dependent on elements like syntax and delivery, the study's researchers say that breaking comedy down to single-word units could demystify its essence.

“The research initially came about as a result of our curiosity,” said Tomas Engelthaler, the study’s lead author, in a press release. “We were wondering if certain words are perceived as funnier, even when read on their own. It turns out that indeed is the case. Humor is an everyday aspects of our lives and we hope this publicly available dataset allows future researchers to better understand its foundations.”

[h/t Smithsonian]

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