Let’s say that the inevitable has happened and Miley Cyrus has become a coked-out wreck, much like every other celebrity we chew up and destroy. How soon after her motel room death can you joke about her?
Well, according to a study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, around day thirty-six after she croaks is the best time to let loose your best blurred lines of cocaine zinger. Scientists had 1,064 people participate in an online survey before, during, and after Hurricane Sandy (which is pretty impressive timing on their part), devoted to the humour of off-colour hurricane jokes. Actually, let’s put it in the researcher’s own words:
“Participants responded to three tweets (i.e., short messages) posted on the website twitter.com, by an account titled @AHurricaneSandy about the approaching storm (e.g., ‘‘JUS BLEW DA ROOF OFF A OLIVE GARDEN FREE BREADSTICKS 4 EVERYONE’’; Figure 1).”
Participants then had to rate how funny and how offensive the tweets were. Before the storm made landfall, people found the tweets funny. However, they found the tweets less and less funny (and more and more offensive) as time went on; fifteen days after the hurricane’s landfall, with damage and death toll all over the news, people found the tweets the least funny and most offensive.
However, people started to slowly find the tweets funny again, with humour peaking around thirty-six days after the event. After that, people started finding the tweets less funny, presumably because the jokes were getting pretty stale.