Nfld. & Labrador

Google knows what you're laughing at: Canadian data reveals favourite regional jokes

Many people in Quebec like to Google corny jokes, and those in Newfoundland and Labrador tend to look for puns, according to data on the most search-for jokes that was released Wednesday to mark International Tell a Joke Day.

Residents of Saskatchewan are searching for dark humour while people in N.L. are Googling puns

According to Google Trends, puns are the most-searched type of joke in Newfoundland and Labrador this year. (Google Trends)

"I'm reading a great book on anti-gravity. I can't put it down."

Someone in the Yukon may have read that joke on the internet this year. According to Google Trends, it's the kind of humour people in the territory like most.

Data published Wednesday to mark International Tell a Joke Day reveals the most-searched jokes in the provinces and territories.

While people in Yukon search for science jokes, for instance, those in Ontario and Nunavut tend to want funny jokes, and individuals in Alberta and P.E.I. like dad jokes.

People in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories favour mama jokes, British Columbia residents are fond of Harry Potter jokes (who knew?), those in Quebec like corny jokes, and people in Newfoundland and Labrador … well, they're searching for puns.

"Which seems super appropriate," said Alexandra Hunnings Klein, a Google Trends expert based in Toronto.

Bad budget, dark jokes?

To get these results, Klein said, Google Trends went through loads of 2017 data. 

"These aren't the most-searched jokes; they are the most-searched kinds of jokes," she said.

For example, in Saskatchewan, where dark jokes rule the province's screens this year, people could be searching for sarcastic or morbid jokes, or simply could be typing "dark humour" into the search bar.

As for why people in Saskatchewan are edging toward the dark side, that's anybody's guess.

"I spoke to someone who said it might be because of the provincial budget," said Klein.

Jokes about martial artist and Walker, Texas Ranger star Chuck Norris dominated Google searches in New Brunswick, a result Klein said she got a (drop) kick out of.

According to this unverified meme, Chuck Norris is a gifted mathematician. (Meme Generator)

"When I saw that data point come up, I thought, you know, Chuck Norris jokes really peaked in the early to-mid-2000s and I thought, 'What is this resurgence in this style of joke?' ... Maybe it's sort of vintage humour. I like it."

Though Klein is originally from Vancouver, she said she doesn't have much of an explanation for the proliferation of Harry Potter jokes.

But, she said, with a nod to Newfoundland and Labrador, "I do love a good pun."

A glutton for pun-ishment

"I'm pretty proud of Newfoundland and Labrador for puns," says Veronica Dymond, a standup comic in St. John's who said she would very much like to be called a pun expert in this article.

"As someone who loves making puns, I would like to see more people getting into the pun business, making puns around town."

'I'm pretty proud of Newfoundland and Labrador for puns,' says Veronica Dymond, a standup comic in St. John's. (Ritchie Perez)

But pulling off a successful pun is tough, she said.

"It seems so counter-intuitive because a lot of puns are very silly, but you need a lot of background information to make a pun," she said.

"You need to have a fairly large vocabulary or understanding of something like history or books. You need to understand the references that are being made.

"They're often a lot of buildup, and a lot of setup for not a great payoff." 

Like Muskrat Falls?

"See, political humour isn't on this list. Nobody's interested in politics," she said.

Dymond said she doesn't plant a pun in her set with the expectation of a laugh.

"When I've done puns on stage, and I've tried to do puns a lot, mostly the reaction is groans," she said. "But I'm perfectly happy to have my puns be groaners."

The worst is a pun-comfortable silence.

They meme what they say

That required background and understanding may be what make puns so popular in Newfoundland and Labrador. Residents love to poke fun at themselves, and memes about the province are wildly popular on social media.

Cape Shore Memes, the makers of the Newfie Word of the Day meme, has more than 104,000 likes on its Facebook page. That's a fifth of the province's population, a number made even more impressive when you consider that some towns in the province still don't have the internet.

Cape Shore Memes, maker of the Newfie Word of the Day meme, has more than 104,000 likes on its Facebook page. (Cape Shore Memes)

The b'ys at Cape Shore Memes tend to keep to themselves, but one of them, who insisted on being called The Meme King, told a writer (who also uses a pseudonym) for the Overcast, an alternative monthly paper in St. John's, that they get many, many, many messages a day with suggestions for the Newfie Word of the Day.

And though it was five years ago, it's definitely worth mentioning #newfoundlandbands, which swept the townie Twitter stream for most of May 17, 2012, and is remembered locally as a day no work was done in St. John's.

Fish jokes?

Dymond acknowledged there are those who think puns are a lower form of humour.

"And they're entitled to their wrong opinion," she said. "They're allowed to be wrong."

There was no other provincial joke-type result that made her want to pack up and move, but she was particularly fascinated by Nova Scotia's apparent love of fish jokes.

Dymond sometimes moonlights as a thumb wrestling referee. (Ritchie Perez)

"What kind of a joke is a fish joke?" she said. "Your mamma jokes — I get your mamma jokes. Dad jokes, dark jokes, corny jokes, I understand all that. But, like — fish jokes?

"Maybe they've got different kinds of jokes and they're trying to throw us off the scent. Maybe it's a red herring."