Think Science: Humor

Aug 18, 2017

What makes you laugh? And why is it funny? Do you guffaw when Moe hits Curly over the head with a wrench, or is the witty, urbane comedy of Woody Allen or Whit Stillman more your style? And is there anything universally funny?

In this Think Science presetnation, we pose questions to cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems, author of “Ha! The Science of When We Laugh and Why.” Scott joined us via Skype to talk about what happens inside our noggin when we see or hear something funny, and why people react in different ways to different types of humor. The hour opens with Bobby Henline, an Iraq War veteran who turned his life-threatening injuries into a new career as a stand-up comic. 

About Scott Weems:

Scott Weems is a cognitive neuroscientist and author of Ha! The Science of When We Laugh and Why. He has been featured on CBS, CNN, MSNBC and Science Friday. Scott Weems’s career began as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, where he served as communications officer onboard the USCGC YOCONA in Kodiak, Alaska. His travels then took him to New Orleans, Boston, Los Angeles, Annapolis, and Little Rock, earning graduate degrees in psychology, education, and creative writing along the way.  He also has a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from U.C.L.A. and once made a little girl cry by telling her that some people go to school until the 26th grade. 

About Bobby Henline:

 A veteran of Desert Storm by age 19, Bobby was inspired to re-enlist in the Army after the attacks on September 11th, 2001. He deployed to Iraq three times with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 3rd Armored Calvary regiment. On April 7th, 2007, tragedy struck when Bobby’s Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb just north of Bagdad. Of five men in the vehicle, Bobby was the only survivor. More than 38 percent of his body was burned and his head was burned to the skull; he spent six months in the hospital fighting for his life, and within two years Bobby’s left hand was amputated. To date, he has had more than 40 surgeries. In August, 2009 Bobby pinky swore with his occupational therapist that he would try stand-up comedy in Los Angeles while he was in town for a doctor’s visit. Shortly thereafter, during an open mic night at the Comedy Store, the “Well-Done Comedian” was born. Bobby believes that God kept him alive for a reason. He believes his mission is to help create awareness for burn survivors, to inspire people to live life to the fullest, and to heal others through his story and laughter. Bobby’s self-deprecating comedic style will leave you in stitches and will burn in your heart forever. Bobby has also proved to be a gifted motivational speaker, using his own experiences as a way to add perspective and bring inspiration to people’s lives. Bobby has been asked to speak with companies, individuals and non-profit organizations. Testimonials from those who have heard Bobby provide a sense of the lasting aura he projects. Bobby performs regularly at the Laugh Out Loud and River Center Comedy Clubs in San Antonio, and has also performed at Rooster T. Feathers in Sunnyvale, CA. The Comedy Zone in Fayetteville, NC. and in Las Vegas at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club.