Consider The New Funny Numbers

It’s constant. Especially this time of year. You’ll be watching basketball with your friends. It’s near the end of the game. It’s 66-62. The leading team’s point guard slashes into the lane and kicks out to an open shooter in the corner. He takes the three. It tickles the nylon, doesn’t even touch iron, delivers that perfect ‘swish’ sound effect that you could put in a stock sound effect library for the NBA 2K audio engineers to include in the next game. It’s a dagger shot, nearly puts the game out of reach for the team trailing. Somebody’s going on, somebody’s on the bus home. It’s a turning point in the tournament, the beginning moment that leads to worst moment of the losing players’ careers and potentially the start of the sorts of tournament runs that get in the CBS highlight packages forever.

From somewhere in the corner of the room, you hear the word. “Nice.” The score says 69, which is a sexual position in which two people engage one another orally at the same time. This was, at one point, maybe the early 1990s, genuinely funny to people. Bill and Ted used it. But later on it became played out and not funny. In the mid-2010s, it became ‘ironically’ funny to imitate the people who thought it was funny and go “Nice” whenever you see a 69. I don’t know where we stand now.

Screenshot (3)

I will say that a properly deployed 69 is still funny. For example, when Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson ended up judging the NFL’s “Best Catch” Competition at the Pro Bowl, he masterfully acknowledged the absurdity of his presence before following it up with a well-deployed score of 69, lampshading what we expect out of Pete Davidson nowadays. But it is played out. Comedy is built upon the subversion of expectations, and 69, the number of sex, and its number-of-marijuana cousin, 420, and its number-of-the-beast cousin, 666, surprise nobody anymore.  They have slipped into obligatory comedy status alongside funny commercials and meme formats. 

Yet, the impetus to find a number funny has not changed and will never change. The desire to see a number in a sports score and point and laugh at it will live forever. You, reader, stand at a precipice. You can either continue to force laughs at the numbers you’ve forced laughs at for years, or you can begin to find new ones funny. What follows are the candidates for new funny numbers.

55: The Hagar Number

In the mid-1980s, Sammy Hagar (before he was in Van Halen) made a song that was primarily whining about speed limits. In this song, Hagar himself belts out this number so prominently, in a manner that I think we can safely consider ‘funny’ out of context. It’s a number that happens relatively often in sports, especially basketball, and you can pre-empt your fellow March Madness viewers, so eager to hit you with the obligatory “Nice” at 69, by hitting them with a full-throated Hagarian “FIFTY FIVE!” when either team hits this number.

311: The Band and Other Marijuana Number

There are not many cultural artifacts whose name is entirely a number. There are certainly funnier acts than 311 whose names include numbers: UB40, Crush 40, Thirty Seconds to Mars, The Click Five, SR-37, 10,000 Maniacs, et cetera, but none of them are just a number, like 311 is, and the only one close in terms of comedic potential and number-only status to 311 is 3OH3!, whose name is unfortunately quite difficult to come across naturally in sports. 311, though… All it takes is an early run from one team and a single 3-pointer made from the other, and even failing that, it’ll come up twice in a men’s college basketball game or soccer match, three times in a hockey match, and four times in any four-quartered discipline. When you see it, a simple imitation of the guitar at the beginning of “Amber” or the central riff in Beautiful Disaster will get the job done. 

Note: I suppose that 3:03 happens as many times as 3:11. You can hit both, potentially. Do the Amber riff with your mouth for eight seconds and transition perfectly into “And I’m a Vegetarian and I Ain’t Fuckin’ Scared of Him” right at 3:03. Your friends will love it, I guarantee. They won’t want to ask you to leave.

28-3: The Falcon Number

This was the score that the Atlanta Falcons had over the Patriots in the Super Bowl that one time. This is funny partially because it reminds us of ineptitude, and it’s hammered home a bit by the fact that this collection of two numbers in any succession is fairly rare. If you see it in the wild, you have to point it out, as you might not see it again for a while.

37: The Clerks Number

I will admit that this has been my go-to number since I first took home a DVD copy of Clerks from a Vintage Stock in 2012. Every time I start up a career mode in some sports game, the guy’s number is 37. Great number. Versatile, comes up with relative frequency, still sort of a wink and nudge sexiness to it given the context.

57: Sauce

its a sauce

It’s a sauce. You’ll have to workshop how to make that funny on your own. I’m not pulling all the weight.

81: The Jalen Rose Number 

This is alternatively the Kobe Bryant number, but it’s primarily used to ridicule Jalen Rose with the secondary usage of remembering the basketball excellence of the late Kobe Bryant. Mr. Rose has been known to immediately block anyone on Twitter who tweets this number in response to him. 

23: The Versatile Number

It’s everywhere. It’s the number of Michael Jordan and LeBron James. It’s the age at which the men of Blink-182 state that nobody likes you. It’s the number of flavors in a can of Dr. Pepper. It’s Number One, according to those little fuckers in [that video game. I think Ocarina of Time.]. It’s that Jim Carey movie! It’s the current year! It’s everywhere, 23. That might give it a little less comedic potential, as it’s so ubiquitous that it won’t surprise anyone, but the subversion of any of the number of things we associate with 23 might. When someone’s expecting a Dr. Pepper reference and you hit them with that Jim Carey movie, it can get ’em.

18: The Bilingual One

This one will take a little explaining. Eighteen, in French, is pronounced something like “dee-zweet” and spelled dix-huit. When spelled out, that looks a bit like “Dicks Wet”. That has potential, but it’s clunky in practice. 

19: Another Bilingual One and Also there was that Song

Nineteen, in French, is pronounced something like “dee-znuf”, which sounds a bit like “Deez Nutz”, if you remember that video of the guy saying that on his phone from the mid-2010s. Maybe if you say “dix-neuf” while imitating that guy’s tone and rhythm of voice, it can work for you. There was also that song that was like “N-N-N-N-N-Nineteen. N-N-N-N-N-Nineteen. They Never Received The Hero’s Welcome” back in the eighties, you can throw that bit in there as well.

1738: Remember Him?

Fetty Wap? Do you remember Fetty Wap? “I’m Like Hey What’s Up Hello!” That guy. 

Slightly Missing Any of the Prior Numbers: 

In the right moment, pointing at a 68 or 419 or 1739 can get the job done. It requires prior knowledge of funny numbers, but if you know your audience (Shoutouts to Lloyd Bitzer) you can absolutely knock ’em dead with a well executed slight miss of any of the aforementioned numbers.

10% Power, 15% Skill, Et Cetera: That Song

What I find so interesting about this song is that it’s so ubiquituously known from our various high school classmates’ football highlight mixtapes, but the vast majority of us cannot list out the percentage points and their accompanying phenomena with any specificity. I sure can’t, at least. Saying “It takes ten percent power, fifteen percent skill,” and following that up with like “50% less fat than normal potato chips” or “2% Milk” or “49% one percent short of half and less than half ain’t really much of nothing” or something of that sort, can probably get the job done for you. In sports, you’ll see percentages come up on screen every now and then, and maybe you can build off of those? Again, I’m simply here to provoke thought.

I hope that this helped in some way.

Well, ‘help’ is a strong word. I hope that this slightly diversified the numbers you point and laugh at. That’s what I mean to say.

About Joe Bush

The guy behind and a lot of other things
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