## Judge This Joke By Its Size, Do You?

Most everyone knows the classic 7-8-9 joke:

What is 6 afraid of 7?
Because 7 8 9.

I recently heard a Star Wars variation:

According to Yoda, why is 5 afraid of 7?
Because 6 7 8.

This joke isn’t funny unless you understand the syntax often used by Yoda, which involves inverting the word order. See www.yodaquotes.net for some examples.

There are two other variations that have long been part of my arsenal. My favorite is:

Why don’t jokes work in base 8?
Because 7 10 11.

When I told this joke to my seven-year-old son, he said, “I don’t get it.” I asked him how 7, 10, and 11 would be represented in base 8. He thought for a second then said, “7… 8… oh, yeah… yeah, that works.”

That’s why I call this version a joke grenade. You pull the pin, and five seconds later, people laugh. Well, some people will laugh. Not everyone. I estimate that 5% of the population would understand this joke, and only about 1% would find it funny.

The last variation is multicultural:

What is ε afraid of ζ?
Because ζ η θ.

If you’re thinking, “That’s all Greek to me,” you’re right. The translation is, “Why is epsilon afraid of zeta? Because zeta eta theta.” The Greek alphabet proceeds, in part, as, “…δ (delta), ε (epsilon) ζ (zeta), η (eta), θ (theta), ι (iota)….” But as with all jokes, if it has to be explained to you, then you’re probably not going to find it funny.

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• 1. xander  |  July 5, 2014 at 4:18 pm

For some reason, I imagine the Greek variant spoken with a wildly inappropriate Italian accent. And the theta is covered in marinara.

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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