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These Are America's 5 Funniest Cities

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Is a good laugh something you never joke about? If so, consider moving to one of the five U.S. communities that University of Colorado researchers recently crowned as America's funniest cities.

"I think these are good places for people who like getting their news from Comedy Central or who say, 'I really enjoy watching comedy films or sitcoms,''' says University of Colorado/Boulder professor Peter McGraw, lead author of a study that ranks America's 50 most-populous cities based on how funny they are.

McGraw, who holds a Ph.D. in quantitative psychology and founded his school's Humor Research Lab ("HuRL" for short), spent three years and traveled across five continents to analyze what makes people laugh. He and journalist Joel Warner published their findings in The Humor Code, a book released -- appropriately enough -- this past April Fool's Day.

The pair's research ranged from interviewing comedian Louis C.K. to studying what people in Uganda find funny. Closer to home, McGraw and Warner worked with HuRL researchers to analyze which major American cities value comedy the most.

"We wanted to try to capture a city's production and appreciation of humor, finding those places where comedy is important to the average person on the street," McGraw says.

To compare different communities, HuRL scholars developed a "humor algorithm" of seven factors, from the number of comedy clubs per square mile to how often locals visit joke-oriented websites. They even had 20 professional comedians rank each city for the quality of its comedy-club audiences.

After whittling down their list to 10 finalist cities, researchers surveyed 900 people in the remaining communities for a deeper look at local comedy trends.

McGraw says the study convinced him that different cities have different "personalities," with humor playing a bigger role in some places than others.

"If you move to Denver and you don't care that much about football, chances are you'll start caring more about it over time because it's just part of the daily conversation -- the water-cooler talk and what's in the news," he says. "It's the same thing with comedy."

Read on for a look at which communities ranked the highest in The Humor Code study, along with details about each city's housing market.

All real-estate information comes from Realtor.com, the National Association of Realtors' official property-listing site. Median list prices are as of March (the latest month with data available) and refer to houses, condos, co-ops and townhouses for sale within the local metropolitan statistic area.

America's fifth-funniest city: Portland, Ore.

People across America are getting to know Portland's quirky sense of humor from the TV show Portlandia, on which Saturday Night Live veteran Fred Armisen and singer/actress Carrie Brownstein (a Portland native) do comedy sketches satirizing the city's bohemian populace.

"Portlanders just really sort of embrace how odd the place is, and now that's bubbled up to the national level thanks to Portlandia," McGraw says.

Oregon's most-populous city ranked No. 1 in McGraw's study for people who use Comedy Central as their top news source. Portlanders also came in first place for picking comedy as their favorite subject for books, as well as for ranking humor as the top thing they want in a workplace.

McGraw's team found that locals prefer absurdist comedy that reflects the city's often surreal atmosphere. "We enjoy Darth Vader wearing a kilt riding a unicycle playing the bagpipes," one survey respondent told researchers.

If the idea of moving to Portland tickles your funny bone, median-priced homes there list for $299,000. Click here to check out some 11,400 current listings.

America's fourth-funniest city: Washington, D.C.

Plenty of Americans see politics as one big joke these days, so it's little surprise Washington, D.C., came in fourth place in McGraw's research.

"Politics makes for good comedy -- and Washington residents are constantly exposed to the absurdity of politicians trying to run a country of 300 million people," the expert says.

Washingtonians placed No. 1 for those who prefer funny outfits for costume parties, as well as for people who consider sitcoms their favorite kind of TV show.

Researchers also found (again, not surprisingly) that Washingtonians like political humor best of all.

Do you want to make Washington your personal comedy capital? A median-priced home there costs $409,900, and you can find some 32,400 current property listings here.

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