Tyler Stillman, a psychologist at Florida State University, did a series of studies showing that laughter isn’t always about how funny something is. He found that when a boss tells a bad joke to an employee, the employee laughs. But when the employee tells a bad joke to a boss, well, you can hear pin drop.
The Radio Lab team then decided to replicate the study in their own office. The joke really isn’t funny, but it is funny watching the influence of social dynamics on laughter.