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Seinfeld funnier than Jackie Gleason? Says who?

Welcome to the 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll for December. The election is over and the rancor and seriousness that was prevalent in a divided America can hopefully be set aside for the good of the country. What better time is there then to choose humor as the theme for this month's poll?

Questions like who and what makes America laugh, what shows do we like, what topics should be considered off limits to comedians, and are people born funny or is it a skill that can be developed? We as a nation can always use a better sense of humor about ourselves and some good laughs to get our mojo going.

It worked during the Depression as people flocked to theaters to forget their worries and laugh out loud as depicted in the classic movie "Sullivan's Travels." A little laughter might just get us in to the holiday spirit and foster a renewed sense of national unity and purpose. We'll toast to that, and to our readers, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and a happy and humor filled New Year. And now the results of our poll...

Only 14 percent of Americans were able to identify Judd Apatow, the prolific and successful writer, producer and director of comedy films and shows. Fifteen percent thought he was a former speechwriter for President Clinton, five percent guessed he was a creator of "South Park" and three percent took a shot at country music star. Nearly two thirds (64 percent) said they did not know who he was and the percentage went even higher for those 45 and older. It shows that you don't have to be widely known in America to become very wealthy in Hollywood.

Check out the Vanity Fair slideshow.
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Fifty-six percent of Americans think that being funny is something you can develop over time from life experiences. It jumps to 69 percent for people under the age of 30 (maybe they think there's an app for that). Thirty-five percent think that being funny is innate, a gift that one is born with. Those in the minority would be more inclined to agree with the fabled line: "Dying is easy, it's comedy that is hard."

The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech but there are limits. Americans would limit jokes about sensitive topics in the following order: sexual assault 35 percent, September 11th 18 percent, the sick and disabled 15 percent, religious figures seven percent and 21 percent of Americans said they should all be off limits. Most comedians don't need to be told that there's nothing funny about such topics.

A third of Americans said the lack of humor from DMV workers drives them crazy. Twenty-seven percent fly off the handle about airport workers being too serious. Twenty percent are taxed by toll collectors that could use a happy pill and nine percent would show those surly nightclub front men the door.

So which host is most likely to get a good laugh out of Americans? Nearly half of America is spread out between Letterman 13 percent, Fallon 12 percent, O'Brien 12 percent, Kimmel eight percent, and Ferguson four percent. Dave did a little better with the older set and Conan and the two Jimmys did better with the younger viewers. The winner with 24 percent was Jay Leno the successor to the former owner of America's funny bone, Johnny Carson. He did well with all age groups especially those over 45. To the 23 percent of Americans who said none of them are likely to get a good laugh out of you, try lightening up a little, these guys can be pretty funny.

Two thirds of men and 54 percent of women (60 percent of Americans) think that on average, men are funnier than women. Twenty-two percent think women are funnier and 15 percent say there is no difference. Comedy is the ultimate equal opportunity employer, if you're funny, the sky's the limit.

Twenty-two percent think Q is the funniest letter of the alphabet. Seventeen percent thought Z was zany, seven percent said W was wacky and five percent said that both P and X were pixilated.

Twenty-two percent of Americans chose "Seinfeld" as the greatest sitcom from the list, what's up with that? Twenty percent were "to the moon" for "The Honeymooners," 16 percent friended "Friends" and 14 percent cheered for "Cheers."

"Arrested Development" (seven percent), "Mary Tyler Moore" (six percent) and "30 Rock" (five percent) got lower ratings. What constitutes greatness in sitcoms? How about a show that ended over 55 years ago with basically a one year run and 39 original episodes still being considered by many to be the best ever? With regard to "The Honeymooners," America is saying, "baby, you're the greatest."

Ten percent of Americans like to forward funny baby videos, cat and dog videos got six percent each and 18 percent confessed that they like to forward all of them. A solid majority of 58 percent said they don't enjoy forwarding any of them. A hint to you "forwarders," it's a good bet that the majority is not too hot on receiving any of them either.

Thirty-six percent of Americans said they like "The Simpsons" better while 30 percent said they were a "Family Guy." Thirty-five percent said they "don't know" which could mean they like them both and can't decide, they don't watch such coarse shows, they've never seen or heard of those shows or they literally don't know. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes " I don't know" means I don't know, dohhhh....

This poll was conducted at the CBS News interviewing facility among a random sample of 1,132 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone October 12-15, 2012. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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