In this week’s Monday Humour challenge, Greg would like us to use exaggeration as a tool. Fair enough. He also said steal an idea, and as you read on you’ll see I stole a fair few of ‘em.
To start, I would like you to take a small test. Below are three interesting facts; your job is to decide which one is not true:
Fact #1: Page Three glamour model Katie Price has released no less than five autobiographies.
Fact #2: There are a total of one billion bacteria hitching a ride on and in your body.
Fact #3: I was named 2006 Person of the Year by TIME magazine.
Bing! Your time is up. Did you guess the fake fact? Of course you did. It is fact #2.
As any microbiologist will tell you, there aren’t a total of one billion bacteria on you right now. The true total is closer to… 100 trillion. Yep, you read that right. In fact, every square inch of your skin is home to 32 million of them.
And that is where I see a slight problem with this week’s prompt. For exaggeration to work as a tool for humour, it must be patently ridiculous. Yet for every silly exaggeration you can think of there will be a fact ten times as ridiculous.
Here’s another: there are over one and a half billion US $5 bills in circulation right now. Eighty percent will have traces of cocaine on them, and thirty percent will have, at some time in their lives, been stuffed into a stripper’s G-string. You might want to remember that, when handing your little darlings their weekly pocket money.
So sure, I could employ exaggeration to comical effect in this post. I could tell you for example, about the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth: 7.2 trillion degrees Farenheit or, to put it another way, just a little bit hotter than the filling of your average McDonalds apple pie.
I could also tell you that the average 4-year-old asks 400 questions a day, which is why one of the first things I taught my daughter to do was to Google.
But I’m lazy. I don’t want to think up comic exaggerations, and real facts don’t require them. The human condition can serve up enough laughs all on its own, for example:
- More than 2500 left handed people are killed each year, using equipment made for right-handers.
- Vending machines kill four times more people per year than sharks do.
- 58% of British teenagers think Sherlock Holmes was a real person, and Winston Churchill was not.
- 55,000 people in the US are injured by jewellery each year, while 33,000 are injured on the toilet.
- Six percent of Americans believe in unicorns.
Or how about these oddities from the natural world:
- The total weight of all the ants on the earth is greater than that of all humans.
- A mouse can fit through a hole the size of a ballpoint pen.
- Humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas.
Seems like nobody has a bigger sense of humour than Mother Nature.
* Oh, and yes, I was named 2006 TIME magazine Person of the Year. So were you, your spouse, your children, your idiot cousin, and anybody else who so much as posted on Facebook or commented on an online forum. TIME magazine pretty much phoned it in that year.