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The Funniest Joke in the World

The Funniest Joke in the World is a Monty Python sketch in which, during World War II, British scientist Ernest Scribbler creates the funniest joke in the world and then dies laughing. Numerous people attempting to investigate also died laughing upon reading the joke. It was finally retrieved by the British Army, and after careful testing, the joke was translated into German for use on the battlefield. Because the joke was so lethal, translators were only allowed to work on one word each; a translator who unfortunately saw two words had to be hospitalised.

The German translation (made up of nonsense pseudo-German) was:

"Wenn ist das Nunstuck git und slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das oder die flipperwald gersput!"

This sketch is available on the CD-Rom Game of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.

The concept of fatal hilarity is not an uncommon one. David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest[?] deals with a videotape containing a movie so entertaining that anyone watching it loses all desire to do anything else, eventually becoming comatose and dying. Like the translators in the Monty Python sketch, the only person who could watch the movie was the director, who was too insane to be affected by the film.

In addition, much of comedy slang deals with the concept of death, e.g. "I killed them out there".

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