Humour with an ‘LHC’


British humour is slightly more subtle than the ‘u’ they slip into that word. Today I was listening to my favorite BBC 7 comedy program, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, and the host, Humphrey Lyttelton, made a very slick LHC-themed introduction reproduced below. Deconstructed, the joke is essentially:

Nuclear physics is esoteric. So it is funny if I talk about it as if were common knowledge.

The actual delivery, however, is characteristically Lyttelton and has left a wide grin on my face. (Note, the actual permutation of words don’t seem to be technically correct… but that’s neither here nor there.) Here’s my rough transcription after replaying that segment several times:

We’re going to move on to a musical game called ‘One Song to the Tune of Another.’ That very title radiates such pure simplicity that nothing but the feeblest intellect would require further explananation.

So what happens, team, is this:

We take a song and split it into its two main components: the words and the tune.Try to think of the song as an ordinary everyday object like, oh I don’t know, a nuclear  particle accelerator, for example. This handy gadget is basically only two components: the linear cyclotron and the elemental betatron and you hardly need me to explain what they do, teams. As you know these can be  realigned in such a way that particle beams are split ‘supersegmentally’ rather than by relativistic modulation.

And I know exactly what you’re thinking, teams, surely that configuration creates a proton synchronizer. Exacly. Exactly. Full marks. Well done.

But there’s another component we haven’t touched on. Anyone? That’s right, the plug. How many times have you tried to use your particle accelerator only to find out that you’ve forgotten to plug it in?

That’s why so many atomic research establishments take on someone whose sole job it is to perform that menial repetitive task requiring a miminum skill base and little or no training.

Even then there are those who fail the interview and are forced to casual employment elsewhere. At the piano, please welcome Colin Sell.

What followed included someone singing the lyrics of “Who Let the Dogs Out” to Bizet’s Toreador song. Are there many people who would know the lyrics and tune to both off the top of their head?


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