Dr. Peter McGraw is an associate professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business. As a behavioral scientist, his research examines the interrelationship of judgment, emotion, and choice—with a focus on the production and consumption of entertainment. McGraw directs The Humor Research Lab (HuRL) and is the co-author of The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. His research has been covered by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME NPR, BBC, and CNN. His work appears in the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Management Science, Psychological Science, and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

He is currently trying to kick a sweater vest habit – even if it does get him kicked off the Stylist Scientist List.

A Sample of Peter's Best Episodes...

Making Things Fun with David Thomas

David Thomas is an assistant professor attendant in the Department of Architecture at the University of Colorado Denver. He studies the aesthetics of fun and the value of play. For nearly twenty years prior, he was a professional game journalist writing with his work appearing in the Denver Post, Edge Magazine, and Wired. With John Sharp, he recently published the book […] more

Finding The Darkness with Zoe Rogers

Zoe Rogers is a stand-up comedian. She’s been featured on Disney Babble and and has performed at the She-Devil Comedy Festival, Laughing Skull Comedy Festival, and Edinburgh Fringe […] more

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As Seen, Heard, and Read On...

Is Humor The Key To Improving Relationships? Podcast with Peter McGraw

Today we’re talking all about humor; how it can bring people together and push them apart. We’ll also cover it’s role in generating success for several key business areas…

Conversations With Funny People with Peter McGraw

Professor, behavioral scientist, and host of the I’m Not Joking podcast, Peter McGraw, talks about looking into the lives of funny people – from comedians, improvisers, and comedy writers, to other funny people in the business, in science, and in arts. He shares the conversations about their habits, motivations, as well as secrets to success…


The writer E. B. White famously remarked that “analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies.” If that’s true, an amphibian genocide took place in San Antonio this past January. Academics from around the world gathered there for the first-ever comedy symposium cosponsored by the Mind Science Foundation.

The goal wasn’t to tell jokes but to assess exactly what a joke is, how it works, and what this thing called “funny” really is, in a neurological, sociological, and psychological sense. As Sean Guillory, a Dartmouth College neuroscience grad student who organized the event, says, “It’s the first time a roomful of empirical humor researchers have ever gotten together!”

NOT long after the physicist Werner Heisenberg (not the guy from “Breaking Bad”) identified the uncertainty principle in the early 20th century, E. B. White — in a somewhat similar vein — warned against meddling with what defines funny.

“Humor,” White wrote, “can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.”

Which may explain why it took a team of experts from the Humor Research Lab at the University of Colorado a full nine months to devise a provocative “humor algorithm” to identify the funniest cities among America’s 50 largest. Moreover, White’s warning may have been doubly prescient. When residents in what was determined to be the nation’s funniest city — Chicago — were surveyed about their favorite joke, they couldn’t think of a single one…