One of the arguments against the g factor is the existence of savants, autistic people who are mind-bogglingly good at one particular kind of mental task, but subnormal in most other ways. I don't find this a particularly compelling argument: severe autistics are too anomalous an offshoot to draw conclusions about the rest of humanity from.
To me, a better argument against g would be the existence of Asians. Northeast Asians (Japanese, Korean, northern Chinese) average somewhere between 105 and 110 on IQ, yet the vast majority of Asians have nerdy personalities. If g is such an all around boost, why do so many Asian-Americans seem to have weak senses of humor? (I'm half-Asian, which is probably why I seem to spend around half my life being lame. Actually, now that I think of it, my white half is pretty lame too: let's call it seven-eighths.)
For that matter, it's been my experience that blacks, who on average do poorly on IQ tests, often have good senses of humor. Does IQ not correlate with humor?
Possibly. I've known plenty of whites with all sorts of intellectual credentials and incredibly lame senses of humor. And I've met plenty of whites with none who have good senses of humor. So what gives?
It may just be that a lower level of inhibitions correlates with a better sense of humor. Much of humor consists of saying things others are unwilling -- perhaps too shy or too inhibited -- to say. Delivery is crucial as well: telling a joke hesitantly basically strangles it. Sociopaths are totally uninhibited, and this allows them to be glibly charming, with what appears at first to be a good sense of humor (in fact they usually just have a bunch of prepackaged lines they trot out at the appropriate times).
It also helps to have an outsider's perspective, which may help explain the many funny blacks and gays.
Gays seem particularly skillful at delivering funny impressionistic summations of situations which highlight their absurdity -- witness David Sedaris.
A sense of humor may derive in part from a sense of helplessness. (As in, the winners get the spoils, the losers get philosophy -- because they have no choice but to be philosophical about things.)
It also helps to have what is known as a twisted outlook, all the better to have a sick sense of humor. But this may also just be a matter of being a left-handed, right-brained type of person, the type long associated with creativity.
Speed of thought helps too. If you're like me, and can only think of the perfect response half an hour later, no one will ever think you funny.
It has often been said that comedians are angry people. So that probably helps. Except I've never seen a person actually throwing a temper tantrum who was funny except in an unintentional way. It's also been said that the top comedians are often substance abusers. And, come to think of it, you don't see a lot of Asian-American alcoholics.
But many of the funniest people I know are also the smartest. This can't be just coincidence. A few of them are even well-adjusted: having a sense of humor would seem to equip one well for the various slings and arrows that come our way.
So is humor a form of intelligence or not? I'd say that it is, even if it doesn't correlate well with measured IQ.
One thing a sense of humor does correlate with is sanity -- which also doesn't necessarily correlate well with IQ. (The existence of Harvard University is testimony to that.) To have a sense of what's absurd or out of place or unexpected, you must start with a strong sense of what is normal.
There also seems to be a gender correlation. Men are just funnier than women. There, I've said it. But it's not as if I'm the only one who's ever noticed -- or said -- this. I've heard similar comments from a wide range of people, including some females. (As the old saying goes, a woman with a good sense of humor is one who laughs at your jokes.)
If testosterone is associated with humor, then that might explain why blacks are funnier than Asians, since blacks on average have the highest testosterone levels, and Asians the lowest. But you don't generally associate a quick wit with muscle bound NFL linemen. On the contrary, when you look at the top comedians, like Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle or Richard Pryor or Howard Stern, they tend to be skinny guys who look like they'd be lucky to make the JV basketball team.
There's also a correlation with humor and narcissism -- a negative correlation. If you can't laugh at yourself, you're probably not going to be very funny.
So it's settled then: the funniest person is going to be a quick-witted, left-handed, gay, non-narcissistic black man who is exceptionally intelligent and sane.
I started out writing that sentence intending to sound sarcastic. But now that I look at it, that guy actually does sound as if he'd probably have a good sense of humor.