The Vicar of Dibley’s joke about two nuns and a vampire has been named the BBC comedy’s funniest in a specially commissioned study.
Reverend Geraldine Granger, played by Dawn French, closed almost every episode by sharing an often rude joke with Alice the village church verger, who would regularly fail to understand the punchline.
Dr Helen Pilcher tested a series of jokes on 2,000 adults to rank each according to their funniness.
Some 62% said they had found the joke funny when told: “Two nuns are driving through Transylvania when a great big vampire jumps on the bonnet.
“One nun says to the other ‘Show him your cross’. So, the nun opens the window and yells, ‘Get off my bonnet you toothy git’. “
Dr Pilcher’s report, for TV channel Gold ahead of it airing a retrospective special, ranked Reverend Granger’s joke about a vicar playing golf as the second funniest (52%).
It went: “There’s a vicar playing golf with his friend John. John misses a three-foot putt, and he says: ‘Damn it, I missed the bugger’.
“The vicar tuts and says ‘John, if you say that once more then God will open up the heavens and send a thunderbolt to strike you dead’.
“But then John misses a two-foot putt, and he says: ‘Damn it, I missed the bugger.’
“So, the heavens open, a great big thunderbolt comes down and strikes the vicar dead, and God says, ‘Damn it, I missed the bugger’.”
At joint number three was a joke about Christmas, with 47% agreeing it was funny.
“What happens if you cross a turkey with an octopus? Everyone gets a leg at Christmas,” it went.
“Why did the lobster blush? Because the sea weed,” also scored 47% and therefore tied third.
Fifth place went to another Christmas-themed joke with 46% saying it was funny.
It went: “Santa Claus goes to the doctor and says ‘Doctor, I think I’ve got a mince pie stuck up my bottom’.
“The doctor looks and says ‘Oh dear, you do indeed have a mince pie stuck up your bottom. But you’re in luck – I’ve got some cream for that’.”
Dr Pilcher said: “Laughter is universal but humour is immensely subjective and although people all over the world enjoy a good joke what they find funny varies according to a number of things, such as culture, context and language.
“Brain activity is also implicated. The brain contains billions of neurons, and can process large amounts of information in very short time periods.
“For some people, all the elements of a joke come together in an instant and they ‘get’ the joke, but if any of the elements are missing, then the joke falls flat, much like in The Vicar Of Dibley when Alice fails to understand any of Geraldine’s jokes.”
Gerald Casey, Gold channel director, said: “At the end of every episode of The Vicar Of Dibley, Geraldine shares a joke with Alice and whilst deemed funny by Geraldine, Alice always fails to understand the punchline.
“We wanted to commemorate this iconic show by revealing just how subjective humour and jokes can be.”
The Vicar Of Dibley: Inside Out launches on Gold on Saturday March 6 at 9pm.