Along with sex and shopping, comedy is one of the biggest drivers of traffic on the Web. Especially now that a lot of regular people know how to post their homemade video and audio to the Web (along with clips from TV or radio), there's an awful lot of funny stuff online. After months of exhaustive research, including lie-detector tests performed on laboratory rats, we've gathered a list of the funniest sites on the Web. Visit these sites and try not to laugh. Also, you'll notice we've left off sites like Comedy Central and College Humor, which are funny but a little overexposed.
The Institute of Official Cheer
What is it? The Institute of Official Cheer is home to the various cultural and media obsessions of Minneapolis Star-Tribune political humor columnist James Lileks. In general, what you'll find there is a collection of Cold War-era advertising and promotional artwork and photographs accompanied by Lileks's very witty commentary. The images are large-scale and surprisingly attractive to look at, and pretty funny even without the captions. The site is broken up into various galleries, such as "The Gallery of Regrettable Food" and "Interior Desecrators." Make sure to have a spin through the "Compu-promo" section, described by Lileks as follows: "Big hideous computers, and the women who loved them: a salute to the early years of computer promotion."
Why is it funny? Great "found" art from the ad agencies and photo bureaus of decades past, with humorous observations from Lileks.
What is it? Viral videos have taken over the Web; more than 50 million of them live on the servers of YouTube alone. A few of these videos are funny, so hundreds of sites have popped up to parse through the millions to find the really good ones. eBaum's World, for our money, does this the best. The site is run by twentysomething Eric Bauman out of a converted farmhouse near Rochester, New York. He started collecting and posting funny clips during college, but when traffic began to spike, he dropped out to run the site full-time. Now he has a staff of around 70, and he's a rich man. eBaum's World has been described as sophomoric, tasteless, offensive, and just plain dumb--and it's all that, but funny, too.
Why is it funny? Bauman and his staff consistently find and post the funniest, grossest, weirdest, and most embarrassing videos on the Internet.
What is it? The main attraction at the little-known Omodern is its selection of promotional photos of 1970s Swedish rock bands. Think long, blonde, feathered hair; bad teeth; mustaches; matching pantsuits; and band names like "The Gert Jonnys" and "Inge Lindqvists." It's a fantastic documentation of a few of the many bad memories in rock and roll's storied history. And there's more: Omodern also features some truly wonderful promo shots of some of the most horrifying interior designs on record--also Scandinavian and from the '70s. (Don't miss the kitchen design that includes a horse stable.) Truly great--check it out.
Why is it funny? Tragedy + Time = Comedy.
What is it? First of all, this is not a dig at any of the world's peoples. English is a complicated and nuanced language. Many folks in non-English-speaking countries--in the tourism industry, for instance--learn the language in a good-faith effort to communicate with (sell things to) their English-speaking customers. But sometimes it all goes wrong. Engrish.com dedicates itself to collecting hundreds of examples of these unfortunate (mis)usages from around the world, and in a bunch of different categories, such as Signs and Product Packaging.
Why is it funny? For the novice, writing in English can be a walk through a minefield. One misplaced word or poor sentence construction can give an innocent message a whole new meaning.
Bonus: While you're at it, take a look at this small collection of English-language mishaps, assembled by Kaare Danielson. One sign, seen in a Japanese hotel, says: "You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid." Another sign, seen outside a Hong Kong tailor shop, offers: "Ladies may have a fit upstairs."
What is it? Growing up in the 1980s, I still clearly remember the legions of dudes with names like Scott and Rusty who always wore "frosted" Levis 501s (tight), hard-rock and metal tour T-shirts (Night Ranger, Megadeth), white high-top basketball shoes (loosely laced at the top), and on their heads the coup de gr
Why is it funny? Poor breeding and bad taste rarely disappoint.