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Friday, April 20, 2007


Last weekend I told a joke.

I told this joke to a bubble-headed girl, in a white blouse, holding a glass of red wine. You can probably guess where this is going. At the time, this seemed like an appropriate joke, since the girl had studied engineering in college:
ex is at a party. But he's kind of depressed, so he sulks in the corner and drinks by himself. The host sees him and asks, "What are you doing all alone in the corner? You should be having fun! Mingle! Socialize! Integrate!"

ex responds: "It wouldn't matter."
Now, this isn't a very good joke. It's actually a pretty bad joke, even in the range of jokes about ex. (There are certainly better jokes about ex.) But the girl snorted with laughter, and spilled the wine all over herself. So for the rest of the night, every time she met someone new, she would have to explain how she got to be soaked in wine, which of course means that I had to tell the joke many times over.

I'm sorry to say that no one else understood what the hell the joke was about.

Perhaps they would have gotten it if I had told a superior ex joke, like this one:
Three no-good, divergent functions are hanging out on the street corner: x, x2, and ex. They spot a differential operator walking towards them. "Yo, man, we better get out of here," x says to x2, "before he differentiates us down to a constant."

ex, cool and collected, talks back, "Dudes, chill! I'm ex. He doesn't scare me. You just wait here and I'll take care of this."

So x and x2 hang back. ex walks directly into the path of the differential operator, holds out his hand, and growls, "Hey man. I'm ex. What the hell are you doing on my turf?"

The differential operator nonchalantly looks him up and down, then responds, "Nice to meet ya, ex...I'm the differential operator with respect to y."
Now that's an ex joke worth ruining a shirt over.

Peter Winkler once said that normal people exchange jokes, and mathematicians swap puzzles. OK, but I submit that mathematicians have some great jokes too. And I need a central place to dump them, and a blog is as good as any. I'll cite my sources when I can.

The ex jokes are courtesy of Bart Blackburn.


  • At April 30, 2007 at 3:06 PM , Blogger Michael said...

    Okay, while I will agree with you that the latter joke wins on technical merit, the original one is quite clearly funnier, because it's not trying so hard.

    But both are better than such (dubious) standards as:

    Q: What's purple and commutes?
    A: An Abelian grape.


    Q: What's yellow and equivalent to the Axiom of Choice?
    A: Zorn's Lemon.


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