Here’s something that you may not know. I’m a Hyperbolist. What is a Hyperbolist, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you what it is. It’s not an actual word, per se, until now, that is, but according to Perrypedia: “A Hyperbolist is a person who uses great exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally.”
In fact, one time my hyperbolic tendencies led to an embarrassing situation for one of my children. I had been telling stories around our supper-table one night and I was saying how one of my Aunt Marys, (I had three), had something like thirty-five kids and they lived in a little house blah, blah, blah…Well, because I exaggerated in most of my stories I didn’t think too much about it until Nolan came home from school the next day, I think he was in grade two or three so he really didn’t quite have a firm grip on the “not meant to be taken literally” part, and he said how everyone laughed and laughed at him because he said his Dad’s Aunt Mary had thirty-five kids and of course nobody believed him! Poor little guy. I had a bit of explaining to do after that one. I still feel bad for him. Sorry Nolan.
I guess I was influenced by some great story telling Hyperbolists while I was growing up, like Mark Twain-from Old Times on the Mississippi-“I was helpless. I did not know what in the world to do. I was quaking from head to foot, and could have hung my hat on my eyes, they stuck out so far." Or Bill Cosby who talked about his kindergarten experiences where he was writing “with a pencil as big as a horse’s hoof on paper so raw it still had pieces of wood in it.” And Johnny Carson’s use of hyperbole was so well known that audience members would prompt him to use it. Johnny: “It sure was hot in Burbank today.” Audience: “HOW HOT WAS IT?” Johnny: “It was so hot I saw a robin dipping his worm in Nestea.”
We Canadians are well known for our hyperbolic statements about Canada’s cold weather as in “it’s so cold outside that we had to chisel the dog off of the lamppost”, or, “it’s so cold outside I saw a lawyer with his hands in his own pockets”, ba dum dum tish. That last one isn’t really a great example of hyperbole but it sure is funny.
As Winter is already here I will give you a few more examples of “How Cold Is It?”
Here we go…
It’s so cold: “I'm shivering like a mobster in a tax office.”
It’s so cold: “You light a candle and the flame freezes.”
It’s so cold: “Your shadow freezes to the sidewalk.”
It’s so cold: “When I turned on the shower I got hail.”
It’s so cold: “You have to break the smoke off of your chimney.”
It’s so cold: “You have to open the fridge to heat the house.”
It’s so cold: “Your false teeth chatter…and they are still in the glass”
It’s so cold: “Jennifer Anniston was downgraded from ‘Hot’ to ‘Tepid’.”
It’s so cold: “Only people named “Ed” and “Bob” have enough time to write their names in the snow.”
It’s so cold: “A flasher was caught “describing” himself to women.”
“All comedy is based on exaggeration, big or small, whatever you can get away with.”- Drew Carey. (1958-).
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