Data Analysis

What’s Funny About Churchill Live Show

Laughter is the best medicine, so they said. Churchill Live Show has been dispensing the laughter pill in Kenya for the past 7 years thus emerging as the top comedy show in the country. In this line of business, the “Doctor” has to be precise with the medication, otherwise, the patients will find another “Doctor” who can cure their thirst for humour. Thus, we take a look if Churchill Live practitioners have been administering the right drug.

To begin, we look at facts about laughter. Adults tend to calculate whether it’s appropriate to laugh and under those restraints eventually fall into a giggle loop 😀 . It has been theorised that human laughter is produced in four successive emotional stages — letting loose, then deviating from the norm, followed by freely laughing and then having the laughter overflow. A good joke should take someone through this hysterical process. The best means to monitor laughter is through sound analysis.

Straight to YouTube, I downloaded 13 latest episodes of Churchill Live show and extracted the audio. In them, I performed an analysis to extract amplitude envelopes.   This a technique used to identify sounds, and uniquely distinguish them from other sounds e.g music and laughter. In seismology, the same technique is used to distinguish between earth tremors and normal planetary movements. The diagram below shows the amplitude envelope of  Churchill Show Sn4 E17: ‘The Amatoke Edition’

Amplitude Envelope of Churchill Show Sn4 E17: ‘The Amatoke Edition’

The red enclosures identify sections of the audio with a different profile, e.g the first part indicates the openning music of the show which then drops when the comedians begin MCeeing.  The envelope has significant influence on how we interpret sound. The envelope of a signal can be measured in four ways:

  •  Attack – The portion of the envelope that represents the time taken for the amplitude to reach its maximum level. Essentially it is the initially build up of a sound.
  • Decay – The progressive reduction in amplitude of a sound over time. The decay phase starts as soon as the attack phase has reached its peak. In the decay phase, the signal level drops until it reaches the sustain level.
  • Sustain – The period of time during which the sound is sustained before it begins to fade out. Many instruments do not contain a sustain phase.
  • Release – The final fade or reduction in amplitude over time.

Since most instruments don’t have a sustain phase, the sustained (flat) portions of the audio do represent  laughter – especially from a good joke. Therefore, we can build the sound profile of hilarious jokes – it has a successive attack, sustain and release phase. The sharp attack and decay profiles indicates music – a percussion sound starts very suddenly, but then decays and releases quickly because no more energy is being applied to sustain the sound.

Given this knowledge, we can observe that there were 3 very good jokes in the Churchill Show Sn4 E17: ‘The Amatoke Edition’.  Tracking the graph and audio gives this ssentence as the first hilarious joke – “doctors should go on attachment in Nyamira since it is the capital of witchcraft”.

We can now perform the same analysis of all episode and which ones were quiete funny

The Flash Back Edition

Amplitide Envelope for The Flash Back Edition

The flashback edition had 9 hilarious jokes.

The Christmas Edition

Amplitude Envelope for The Christmas Edition

The christmas edition had 2 hilarious jokes.

The Love Edition

The love editon had zero hilarious laughs 😦

The list goes on for each episode. Perhaps this is a good means to measure each new act he brings to the show and how much they are worth.

Cover image by : Pharis Maina

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