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.

America's third-funniest city: Atlanta

Union troops burned Atlanta to the ground during the Civil War, but they apparently couldn't extinguish the local love of humor.

Atlantans came in first place in McGraw's survey for those who see comedies as their favorite type of movies, as well as for respondents who say sense of humor is the top thing they look for in a mate.

Researchers also found that racially themed humor is tops in Atlanta, not surprising given that whites make up around half the population and African-Americans account for roughly a third.

McGraw believes local humor plays on the "natural conflict that occurs when you bring really diverse people together." That might explain why native-born comics range from Jeff "You Might Be a Redneck" Foxworthy to African-American funnyman Chris Tucker.

Interested in access to Atlanta's comedy scene? Expect to pay $189,900 for a median-priced home there from among some 43,000 that are available.

America's second-funniest city: Boston

HuRL found that student-friendly Boston offers a mix of high- and low-brow humor -- sort of like a college kid who's witty in class by day but falling-down drunk at night.

"There are lots of smart people in Boston, but people there can also get a little bit rambunctious -- and alcohol and humor often go hand in hand," McGraw says.

Bostonians ranked No. 1 in the study for how often people go to comedy shows, as well as for how many read the comics first when they pick up a newspaper.

Locals told researchers that Boston has a split personality when it comes to jokes, with some people favoring analytical humor but others going for slapstick.

"You can get a good gauge for the sense of humor by listening to sports talk radio," one respondent said. "Every remark feels like a sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek type of joke. Also, there are a lot of drunk people, so that's where the slapstick comes in, I guess."

People who want to move up to the Ivy League of laughs will find that the typical Boston-area home sells for $349,900. Roughly 13,400 residences are listed for sale.

America's funniest city: Chicago

Perhaps the Windy City got that way because people there are laughing so hard.

Chicagoans placed No. 1 in McGraw's study for having humor-oriented personalities, with researchers finding that locals like improvisational sketch humor the most -- probably thanks to the city's legendary Second City comedy troupe.

Second City has produced dozens of celebrity comics over its 55-year history, from Joan Rivers to Stephen Colbert. The theater is also the place where lots of Saturday Night Live actors got their start, from original "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" John Belushi and Gilda Radner to current cast member Aidy Bryant.

"When I ask people which city is No. 1 for comedy, 'Chicago' is the answer that comes up most often -- and I think a lot of it is due to Second City," McGraw says. "People have this intuition that Chicago is a place that values comedy."

If you're ready to enjoy comedy Chicago-style, click here to see some 61,000 homes for sale there. A median-priced place lists for $214,900.

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