Paired Statistics

The mechanics of constructing paired statistics require you to save the surprise number for the very last, just as if it were a word.

Sheriff to outlaw: "I'll give you a fair chance. We'll step off ten paces and you fire at the count of three." The men pace off, the sheriff shouts, "One, two," and then he turns and fires. The dying outlaw says, "I thought you said fire on three." The sheriff said, "That was your number. Mine was two."

My tennis coach told me I was one year away from being a good player. And next year, I'll be two years away.

Professional humor writers use numbers if they have sequence possibilities, but the sequence doesn't necessarily have to be exact, as in the one, two, three examples above. The numbers can go up, they can come down, or they can even be repeated. The only rule is that the sequence be logical and rhythmic. Note the numbers on the following examples:

Numbers Up

Did you hear about the Polish race driver at Indianapolis who had to make sixty-two pit stops? Three for fuel, four to change tires, and fifty-five to ask directions. —Larry Wilde

MC at old age home: "We're going to give a prize to the oldest person here."

Second voice: "I'm 73." Third Voice: "I'm 83." Fourth Voice: "I'm dead!"

There are still things you can get for a dollar—like nickels, dimes, and quarters. —Charles Lindner

Numbers Down

Professor to class: Don't be afraid of rewrites. Just remember the first draft of Dickens's book was called A Tale of Ten Cities. The second draft was called A Tale of Nine Cities, then it was eight, then it was seven________— Kathy Leisering

Number Repeated

I wanted to be an FBI man, but you have to be 5 feet 7 and have 20/20 vision. Then I toyed with becoming a master criminal — but you have to be 5 feet 7 and have 20/20 vision.

-Woody Allen

To have twenty lovers in one year is easy. To have one lover for twenty years is difficult. —Zsa Zsa Gabor

The kind of humor I like is the thing which makes me laugh for five seconds and think for five minutes. —William Davis

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