Ricky Gervais has the perfect comedy face. Seriously. Scientists in the UK with a lot of time their hands used computer software to research the facial features most likely to make people crack up. They scanned 179 faces of 20 comedians and concluded the winning look combined a round face, small forehead, wide nose, big lips, large eyes and high cheekbones. The resulting picture was the spitting image of the guy behind The Office.
Dr Anthony Little, a lecturer in psychology from the University of Stirling, explains: “The features most likely to mark male comedians out for success are predominantly soft and feminine. The characteristics of a feminine face imply the person may be agreeable and co-operative, which can be causal in our first impressions of comedians as being friendly and funny… Soft, feminine features put us at ease and encourage us to relax. This is conducive to laughter and enjoyment.”
Gervais says he’s “shocked.” “All these years I assumed my global success as a comedian was down to my acute observations, expert directorial rendering and consummate skills as a performer. Turns out it’s because I’ve got a fat, girly face.”
But what about Borat?Dr. Little carried out a separate investigation into our ironically anti-Semitic comedy sensation, one of the alter-egos of Sacha Baron Cohen, who has distinctly masculine and serious facial traits. Hey, he’s making lots of people laugh!
“Cohen’s atypical comedy face may be the reason why his routine depends on disguise and alter-egos. Borat’s costume, exaggerated accent and feigned slow-wittedness help create a false sense of superiority in his interviewees. The humour lies not in making the respondent laugh but in convincing them Borat is serious, if harmless and ill-informed.”