Using transcripts of Supreme Court oral arguments, in which the term "[laughter]" is inserted when laughter is noted during an argument, a law professor at Boston University has analyzed the relative funniness of the justices and concluded that Scalia is the most funny.
Professor Jay Wexler was able to do the analysis only after the Court began identifying justices by name in the transcripts in October 2004. He has released his findings in an article published in the excellent law journal "The Green Bag."
Wexler found that Scalia was the funniest justice, with "77 laughing episodes" found, which worked out to 1.027 laughs per argument. Breyer was next at 45 total laughing episodes.
Justice Thomas "gave rise to no laughter at all."
Wexler concedes that the study is based on limited data, noting that the simple term "[laughter]" does not distinguish between "a series of small chuckles" and "a joke that brought the house down." Nor, he says, can he separate "the genuine laughter brought about by truly funny or clever humor" from "the anxious kind of laughter that arises when one feels nervous or uncomfortable or just plain scared for the nation’s future."