Why does it enhance the funny when someone chokes on their drink?

I already have an idea what the answer is but I wanted to bring this up.

Take the setting of a panel show as an example. one person will be in the middle of a monologue while another will be sipping water. Person A will get to the climax of his monologue and person B will choke and probably spray some of his water.

I guess it shows that what just happened was so funny that the drinker was forced to laugh.

Do you remember the last time something caused you to choke in this manner?
I do, but it was an unfortunate memory: I actually sprayed people in my vicinity
when it happened and they were not amused. Naturally I couldn’t help it.

I think that’s it. It’s similar to when one suddenly emits a loud snort of laughter instead of a polite little chortle.

I can’t recall when I last did that, so I obviously don’t laugh enough. More fun must be found! :smiley:

“enhance the funny”

“Mr. Dibbs, the writers guarantee that this costume will enhance the funny by at least 15%”

“A congressional panel has been assembled to investigate allegations that President Bush attempted to enhance the funny on a recent diplomatic mission to Israel.”

“World-renowned neurologist Peter Parkenberry has discovered that megadoses of vitamin B12 can enhance the funny in laboratory mice.”

Part of it, I think, is that laughter is psychologically contagious, by which I mean that witnessing the laughter of others makes us more inclined to laugh–or inclined to laugh harder–than our baseline response to the humor. Laughing is, in part, a social thing. A spit-take is a highly visual representation of laughter, which has the potential to generate a correspondingly higher laugh impulse in the viewer than an audible laugh alone.

The fact that it’s generally an over-the-top reaction also makes the spit-take itself funny in some cases, which probably helps.

I don’t remember the last time I did one myself, but I’ve triggered a few over the years.

It’s funniest when the afflicted person is not laughing, but so surprised at what is said that they have this involuntary spasm because of someone else’s unexpected revelation. The spew makes it funnier because it graphically expresses their surprise much better than just a facial expression.

Scene: mom, dad, child.

Mom: So dear, how was your day?
Dad: Oh, nothing special. Good day at work. I picked up Little Johnny from school. (continues sipping drink)
Mom: And how about youl, Johnny?
Johnny: Nothing much, except, the teacher really jumped when Daddy pinched her ass!
Dad: !!!SPLATTER!!!

I think it’s actually a dual response.

Much (some would say all) laughter is caused by surprise or impropriety. With a spit take, you have two separate situations addressed by the same response.

Person tells joke. You start to laugh because it’s surprising or inappropriate. As you start to laugh, another person does a spit take, which is also surprising and inappropriate.

The spit take doesn’t make you laugh harder at the first thing, it gives you a second thing to start laughing at before the first laugh subsides.

Because other people’s suffering is inherently funny.

Why the fuck did I think it would be a good idea to drink water while I read this thread?