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TELEVIZION No. 19/2006/E

Children - Humour - Television

What’s the difference between a crow? Both legs are the same length, especially the right one!” – and kids are set off to two hours of laughter about this nonsense joke.
A study stating that children laugh 400 times a day (i. e. 25 times more often than adults) has unfortunately turned out to be a scientific “hoax.”
But the tendency is indeed substantiated by research into humour: Children love to laugh a lot, often about things that do not even raise a wry grin from adults. They love funny sounds, language games and the small misfortunes that happen to others (Lyon, Kotthoff, Neuß). Humour is constructed on
different levels: in little details, in the plot, the character or on the level of a single action (Schlote, Groß). Producers know: Humour enhances a programme’s attractiveness, makes educational programmes more
interesting and often can serve as a way to tackle even difficult issues (e. g. Kleeman, Cahn, Arriaga).
But do children actually find such programmes funny? Reception studies reveal that children sometimes have a good laugh about some parts of a programme, but find other parts included by adult editors not to be funny at all. A recent intercultural comparative study found that there are a lot of similarities, but also culturally based differences.
Further, differences are not just in the understanding of words, symbols or familiarity with the format; everyday life experiences mean, for example, that South African children will find it less funny than children in other countries when food is wasted or things of value are destroyed (Götz et al.).
Nevertheless, there are in fact some things all children find attractive, and this is exactly the form of concrete humour to which producers do not always attribute importance (Gollner).
In professional work for children it is necessary to perceive these sometimes subtle differences and seek to understand their forms of humour. For adults this is an entertaining challenge and a genuine source of enrichment.
As Charlie Chaplin put it once: Laugh and the world laughs with you.

Maya Götz
Head of the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television



Catherine Lyon
Humour and the young child

This review of research literature on humour presents many favourable aspects of humour and tackles the media influence on the development of childrens's humour.

Helga Kotthoff
Let's have a joke!

Children's use of jokes and comedy depends on their developmental level and on the "humour setting" in their respective culture - some age and intercultural differences are related here.

Norbert Neuß
Children's humour

This study on primary-school children's everyday use of humour shows how children share humour production and reception, and in which types of humour they rejoice.

Maya Götz et al.
“Is that funny anywhere else?”

The 2005 IZI humour study set out for an international comparison of children's humour. 476 children in 5 countries judged children's programmes with the Fun-O-Meter and in group discussions.

Clemens Groß
What children's TV has to offer in the way of fun

This quantitative overview of programmes on German children's TV reveals that up to 25% hone in on humour as central theme, with private TV companies ahead of public broadcasters.

Maya Götz
Laughing with educational programmes

Humour is often integrated in educational programmes, e.g. as a characteristic of the presenter. This study of 300 German children who watched 6 shows found out about how they laughed.

Elke Schlote
Pigeonholing comic elements in children's TV

How is humour written in the media text? Comic elements are the "ingredients" of humour communication, and we'll present a compilation of humour techniques in children's comedy.

Carolina Gollner
“I think that's funny, too ...”

The editorial staff of children's comedy programmes can pinpoint relatively accurately the sequences that children laugh about. But their explanations are sometimes off the mark.

Maya Götz
What's so funny in children's comedy?

This study of 115 German children and pre-teens offers some insights into what these viewers find funny in comedy programmes for children and what fails to make them laugh.


David Kleeman
Sesame Street to SpongeBob
US-American producers reveal what they think is important for creating (internationally successful) comedy for children and whether there is a particular North American humour.

Alice Cahn
Fun, funny, and fearless
Cartoon Network's programming service Tickle U broadcasts humorous animation programmes for pre-schoolers. Why is the use of humour important for children's television?

Patricia Arriaga
Pepito, el Chavo, and Bob Esponja
This producer's perspective on Latin American children and their humour delivers insights into the joking and media diet of children in the Southern part of the Americas.


Wallace & Gromit
What's so funny? - Sheep circus

Angela Anaconda
What's so funny? - Sushi siblings

The Little Rascals
What's so funny? - Boys in tutus

Open a Door in South Africa
What's so funny? - The leaf-green cap

Knowledge Makes You Go Ah!
What's so funny? - An earthworm as pet

What's so funny? - Big wig politics

Chili TV
What's so funny? - Hip weather forecast


Ragna Wallmark
Humour is encouraging!
A résumé of a conversation with Ragna Wallmark, Head of Children's and Youth Programmes, Utbildningsradion (UR), Stockholm, Sweden.

Christophe Erbes
Humour is a buffer zone
A résumé of a conversation with Christophe Erbes, MA, the managing director of the JETIX Europe GmbH (formerly FOX KIDS Germany GmbH), responsible for the areas TV, Online and JCP JETIX Consumer Products.

Ian Prince
Political humour is a powerful tool
A résumé of a conversation with Ian Prince, editor of Newsround on BBC1 Television, the children's news programme of the British Broadcasting Corporation, London, United Kingdom.