How do Australians watch comedy content–and what role does humor play in their lives?

These were the subjects of a recent Comedy Central Power of Laughter online survey of almost 400 Australians ages 16 to 34. Here are key findings from this project:

Comedy has mass appeal and can engage a large audience.

Not only does content travel far and wide via digital sharing, the internet allows more niche forms to be transported to new audiences.

Australians do love international comedy–but not exclusively. Over half believe it’s important to have local comedy shows on TV as well.

Their favorite comedy formats are sitcoms (87%), live action (87%), animation (86%) and stand-up (83%).

Though many access comedy online, TV is the main medium.

While most humor fans in Australia get their comedy on TV (84%), they also get funny content from a variety of devices: laptops (51%), mobile phones (33%) and desktop computers (25%). The main sources they use for accessing comedy are free-to-air TV (71%) and YouTube (61%), followed by subscription video (43%), Facebook (36%) and movies (36%). They primarily consume comedy at home (94%), most often on weekends (70%).

The internet is a key source of comedy, but it’s not cannibalizing TV. In fact, heavy TV viewers are more likely to watch comedy on TV across all devices. Over 7 in 10 say they watch comedy online, with 56% saying they find out about funny content from friends’ social media posts and 40% from word of mouth.

Comedy also inspires engagement across screens, with 67% second-screening at least once a week and 43% searching online for information about programs or stars.

Humor resonates because it’s a fundamental part of Australians’ identities.

Among Australians 16 to 34, 88% say their sense of humor defines their personality—more than work (79%), musical taste (67%), what they read (66%) and personal style (64%).

More than 7 in 10 agree that “if you get my sense of humor, you get me.” And just over half (51%) believe that comedy is the ultimate form of self-expression.

Comedy fosters social connection and binds relationships.

In Australia, 9 out of 10 people surveyed agree that their sense of humor helps them connect with other people. They love comedy that has that effect—82% say they like humor that brings people together.

Making others laugh is also good for one’s social life—7 in 10 agree that funny people tend to be more popular.

This applies to social media as well. Almost half say they want to be friends with someone on social media because of the funny content they post. Nearly 6 in 10 have posted a funny clip on Facebook in the past month—and of them, 83% say getting comments from others on that content is important to them.

Comedy is also a social currency. The main ways Australians share funny video clips is via their personal social media page (70%), gathering people around a device (64%), email links (55%) and text links (53%).

Comedy is a source of escapism and empowerment.

For 9 out of 10 Australians surveyed, comedy allows them to escape the stresses of life. They love to sit back, relax and watch it on TV.

Comedy today is less conservative—no topic is off-limits, sex is a common topic and it’s now acceptable to make jokes in previously formal situations. It’s perceived as something that makes you think, pushes boundaries and challenges assumptions.