Posts tagged ‘joke’

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 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.


July 5, 2014 at 7:08 am 1 comment

How SEO is Killing Good Jokes

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the rank of a web page within search results. It’s what causes bloggers to include the names Ted Cruz, Malala Yousafzai, and Lady Gaga, or the terms 404, fail, and boobs, in a post (sort of like I just did).

There’s an old joke about Einstein, Newton and Pascal playing hide-and-seek, but here’s the same joke as it appears on a shameless site that shall remain nameless:

Pope Francis, Isaac Newton, and Blaise Pascal decide to play hide-and-seek. The Pope closes his eyes, counts to 10, then starts looking for the others. Pascal is nowhere to be found, but Newton is standing directly in front of Pope Francis. There is a one-meter by one-meter box drawn on the ground in chalk, and Newton is standing inside it.

The Pope says, “Newton, you’re terrible at this game! I’ve found you.”

“No, you haven’t,” says Newton. “You’ve found Pascal — I’m one Newton per square meter!”

Perhaps you’re unaware, but Pope Francis was the most popular person on the Interwebs in 2013. He was followed closely by Edward Snowden and Kate Middleton. (Whereas Ed was just a flash in the pan, Frank and Kate will likely have staying power.)

Admittedly, the joke isn’t all that funny with Einstein, either, but it’s even less funny with Pope Francis.

Yet people are doing similar things all over the place. They’re trying to improve their rank by inserting the name of a celebrity here or a current event there. Here’s just a sampling of the kind of stuff you can find online these days:

Miley Cyrus was kicked out of math class for too many infractions.

Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, and Jeffrey Skilling were asked what 2 + 2 is. Swift said, “I don’t know,” and she meant it. Mars said, “4.” And Skilling said, “What would you like it to be?”

Dick Cheney, Jim Porter, and Justin Bieber are duck hunting. Cheney shoots at a duck and misses 6 inches too high. Porter shoots and misses 6 inches too low. Bieber shouts, “We got it! We got it!”

What does Jeff Kinney do when he’s constipated?
Works it out with a pencil.

Flo (from Progressive Insurance): Why was the math book sad?
George Clooney: Because it had so many problems.

Madonna was trying to measure a flag pole. She only had a measuring tape, and she was getting  frustrated trying to slide the tape up the pole. Stephen Spielberg walks by and offers to help. He removes the pole from the ground, lays it down, and measures it easily. When he leaves, Madonna turns to Guy Ritchie and says, “That’s just like Spielberg! We need to know its height, and he gives us its length!”

There’s a good chance that this post will be the top-ranked page on Google tomorrow…

January 15, 2014 at 3:38 pm 2 comments

Math Joke for Halloween

A joke about a graveyard, a dead person, and being frightened. All good things for All Hallow’s Eve.

A man was walking through the Alexander Nevsky Monastery when he heard someone say, “x2 + 2x = (x)(x + 2).” Sure that his mind was playing tricks on him, he kept walking, but then he heard, “x2 + 2x + 1 = (x + 1)2.” He paused again, then heard, “x3 – 4x2 – 7x + 10 = (x – 1)(x + 2)(x – 5).” Concerned, he approached a cemetery worker. “Why do I keep hearing math equations?” he asked.

“Oh, that’s Leonhard Euler,” said the worker. “He’s decomposing.”

For more Halloween math jokes, see Scary Math Facts for Halloween or Trig or Treat or Math Jokes for Halloween.

October 31, 2013 at 4:25 pm 2 comments

XXXIII for Increased SEO


Beware the Ides of October!
Check back on October 15 for a MJ4MF World Premiere!


Today is 10/10/13, or X/X/XIII in Roman numerals. Three years ago, I published XXX Rated to celebrate 10/10/10, and it has consistently been one of my most visited pages. Not surprising. Today’s top searches which led to my blog were:

  • xxx sex
  • sex xxx
  • metric system jokes

Well, at least someone was looking for math jokes when they found my blog!

In honor of National Metric Day* and to appease most people who stumble across this blog, here’s a joke that mixes metric and sex. It’s subtle; pay attention.

The metric conversion for 69 is 181.

And another?

What do sex and metric conversions have in common?
I enjoy doing both, but most of the time I do them alone in my room.

And a sorta, kinda Roman math joke…

A Roman soldier walks into a bar. “Martinus, please.”

The bartender replies, “You mean martini?”

The soldier says, “If I wanted more than one, I would have asked for it!”

And finally…

When is 6 equal to 8.5?

In Roman numerals, the number SIX can be translated to 8.5. Remember that IV = 4, because a smaller number (I = 1) precedes a larger number (V = 5). With SIX, S = ½, I = 1, and X = 10. Since both S and I precede X, they should be subtracted: 10 – ½ – 1 = 8.5. Hence, 6 = 8.5. Q.E.D.

* Not an official holiday. See Pat Naughtin’s declaration as well as the U.S. Metric Association Metric Week.

October 10, 2013 at 10:10 am Leave a comment

My Son’s New Joke

My son is doing his math homework — he’s in first grade, so it involves writing a certain number, spelling that number, and finding all occurrences of that number in a grid of random numbers called a “Number Hunt.” Based on today’s number, he came up with the following joke:

What number is mostly even but not even?

Not a great joke, to be sure… but as good as most jokes on his dad’s blog, and he’s only six years old.

The homework was frustrating (for me), because my sons are capable of much more.

When my sons ride their bikes through the parking lot, they solve problems involving parking space numbers, the digits on license plates, and other numerical things. They ask me to create “math challenges” for them to think about as they ride. Yesterday, they solved the following three challenges:

  1. Which license plate has the greatest product if you multiply its four digits together? (The license plate format in Virginia is LLL-DDDD, where L is a letter and D is a digit.)
  2. How many different license plates  are possible with the format LLL-DDDD?
  3. Each of the three rows in our parking lot has a different number of cars. If our parking lot had a fourth row, how many cars would there be in the fourth row?

For Question 1, Eli realized that the license plate with {9, 7, 6, 5} would have a greater product than the license plate with {9, 7, 6, 3}, since 5 > 3. But then he realized that {9, 9, 8, 2} would be even greater, and he correctly determined that the product is 1,296.

For Question 2, Alex thought it would be 144. His argument was that there would be 6 ways to arrange the letters and 24 ways to arrange the digits, and 6 × 24 = 144. We talked about this, and I pointed out that his answer would be correct if we knew which three letters and which three digits we were using (and they were all different). He and Eli reconvened and eventually claimed there would be 263 x 104 possible license plates… and being the good father that I am, I let them use the calculator on my phone to find the product.

For Question 3, the number of cars in the three rows was 2, 5, and 8. They extended the pattern and concluded that there would be 11 cars in the non-existent fourth row.

So you can understand why I’d be frustrated that Alex’s homework involved writing the number 11 repeatedly. I thought about telling him not to do it, but then I imagined the following conversation:

Alex: Would you punish me for something I didn’t do?
Teacher: Of course not, Alex.
Alex: Good, because I didn’t do my homework.

Or perhaps he’d just fabricate an excuse:

I thought my homework was abelian, so I figured I could turn it in and then do it.

And finally — should abelian be capitalized?

September 24, 2013 at 5:10 pm 3 comments

Best Math Joke Ever?

If you do a search for “best math joke ever,” you’ll see that there is widespread disagreement. The following are some of what you’ll find.

The folks at Physics Forums like this one:

How does a mathematician deal with constipation?
He works it out with a pencil.

Sadly, the site failed to include this follow-up joke.

What kind of pencil?
A #2 pencil, of course.

Some folks at Yahoo Answers like this one:

An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one orders a drink. The second one  orders half a drink. The third orders 1/4 drink. The fourth orders 1/8 drink, and so on. The bartender, a little overwhelmed, asks the mathematicians, “Hey, you guys sure you want to do this? Isn’t that a bit much?” The mathematicians reply, “Oh, don’t worry… we know our limits.”

From Mormon MD:

Pi Be Rational

And the good folks at Blue Donut have taken the list of 100 funniest jokes of all-time — as compiled by GQ — and allow visitors to vote on them. Sadly, most of them aren’t mathy, but this one from A. Whitney Brown is.

China has a population of a billion people. One billion! That means even if you’re a one in a million kind of guy, there are still a thousand others exactly like you.

June 25, 2013 at 2:43 pm 3 comments

Open Letter to Mathy Folks on the Internet

My friend Adam has this awful habit of explaining jokes that need no explanation. For instance, a conversation might go like this:

Adam: What do you think of that candidate?

Somebody: He’s an asshole. If he wins, I’ll be playing hockey and ice fishing by Thursday.

Adam: Yeah, or you could move to Canada to get away from him!

As a result, my friend Paul has given Adam the nickname Tabasco; to Paul, Tabasco sauce and Adam’s explanations are both unnecessary extras.

But I can forgive Adam. He doesn’t add this unnecessary extra in an attempt to explain the joke to others. I simply think the subtlety is lost on him, and he’s trying to make a joke that he supposes original.

I cannot, however, forgive people who provide explanations to jokes because they think you should find it as funny as they do.

I have a belief about jokes: If you need to explain it, then you shouldn’t tell it. Technically speaking, explaining a joke won’t kill it. It doesn’t need to; the joke is already dead. Explaining a joke because no one laughs is like giving mouth-to-mouth to a skeleton.

Recently, though, a rash of mathematicians has taken to explaining math jokes. Walter Hickey recently wrote 13 Jokes That Every Math Geek Will Find Hilarious, in which he provides an explanation for the math behind each joke. (If you’ve read this blog for a while, don’t visit that link. The only one you haven’t heard before is, “Two random variables were talking in a bar. They thought they were being discrete, but I heard their chatter continuously.”) And in the video Math Jokes Explained by Comedian Matt Parker, a rather funny mathematician does his best to remove everything funny from a number of classic jokes.

What’s the point?

Are they hoping that the explanations will suddenly make the non-mathy population find us undeniably witty? Or perhaps math-phobes will instantly find math less intolerable? (“Oh, my goodness, you’re right… that was a funny joke! I think I’ll go register for Diff Eq now!”)

That must be what they’re thinking, because the explanations aren’t for the mathy crowd. We already get the jokes.

So I offer the following letter to all those who feel the need to offer explanations.

Dear Mathy Folks on the Internet,

Please stop wasting bandwidth by explaining jokes.

If your jokes are funny, I’ll laugh. If I don’t get them, I’ll leave your site and search for one with jokes that I understand. And if I can’t find any, then I’ll search for sites with cool math problems or hysterical cat videos or, God willing, both.

If you want me to understand the math behind the jokes, then write a textbook, or post a video, or teach a class, or start a blog. After I know a little, then tell me your joke. And we can laugh together as equals who both understand why it’s funny.

I. Don Gettit

June 6, 2013 at 2:42 am Leave a comment

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About MJ4MF

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.

MJ4MF (offline version)

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.

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