Recently elected Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann has become a viral hit by providing his constituents with much needed, precisely targeted relief. While promoting a national health initiative in Switzerland, Schneider-Ammann appeared in a televised video on Sunday discussing the health benefits of laughing. To the amusement of everyone watching, he did so without cracking a smile. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, hilarious — and hilarious to a nation not known for producing stand-up comics.

The absurdity of the solemn man advising that “laughter is good for health” and the Swiss need to “share moments of happiness” while standing in front of a green screen featuring a trickling backyard fountain, was just too much for French-speaking Europeans. Twitter blew up after the original airing on the Swiss broadcasting channel RTS and the French Jon Stewart, Yann Barthès of Le Petit Journal, called it “the funniest speech in the history of Switzerland.”

But why does something so bland make people laugh so hard? There are a few elements at play, but it really comes down to incongruity. It’s only recently that there’s been neurological evidence supporting the psychological assertion that, as claimed by Immanuel Kant, “In everything that is to excite a lively convulsive laugh there must be something absurd.”

The brain processes two main types of humor: incongruity-resolution humor (something with a punchline) and nonsense humor. This video is a prime example of nonsense humor — it wasn’t created to be funny, we don’t really know why we’re laughing, but it’s still hilarious. Nonsense humor is based off of absurdity — the brain tries to make sense of the stimuli it’s receiving and eventually just gives up. When the brain creates a resolution between two incompatible scripts (the event and then something a bit off about the event), Swiss people start chuckling.

Additionally, certain missteps, like this video, or when someone trips and falls, causes laughter because it changes the script of our expectations. If we realize nothing too serious has happened (the fall didn’t, say, kill someone) our brains translate the event into a instance of play. The new non-serious context makes for ripe humor.

Recognizing absurdity also comes with the territory of being human — we have a natural inclination for humor. Laughter is a social emotion that helps us bond, and we’re inclined to laugh together even if something isn’t all that funny.

Still, while Schneider-Ammann may not be too pleased with what happened (he has said that he doesn’t think humor at another’s expense is funny), this could end up helping people remember the lessons of the health initiative. Laughter is a proven road to learning — learning, for instance, that your President is hilariously unhilarious.

Photos via Pascal Bernheim/YouTube