Humour in Academia

Clichéd though the title is, I find that humour in academia is rare enough to qualify for something as generic as this. And with all the big guns being shelved, I thought I’ll take it upon myself to provide a few laughs. Also, I am tired of going through a dozen-odd books looking up techniques for random proofs to theorems that promise to eat me for breakfast whenever I try to understand them. Can you tell that I might be going a little batty?

Algebraic graph theory: Two hour classes rarely pass without breaks between them. It was during one of these breaks that we started discussing how to protect research or company data. Take this conversation:

Prof: “In the real world, you are actually expected to clear out your desk, and someone watches over as you do, you know, just to make sure that you don’t take away any restricted files….”

Me: “The way you say it, the `real world’….”

Prof: “It is a strange place that I have only heard rumours of….”

Mid semester exam marking session: When you mark in excess of 300 badly written answers within 6 hours, you had better be armed with a bucket of wit, and good setup companions. Take this piece, while we were sorting the papers for the largest class.

Other TA: “We are like Santa’s little helpers!”

Me: “Well, the kids aren’t going to be all that pleased with their presents, are they?”

Instructional seminar: Informal seminars are always fun. In this case, we were discussing how to tile a board with rectangular tiles.

Grad student (a girl) giving the talk: “The book said the title was `How many ways can a man tile a board?’ I don’t see why I cannot do so, so I have taken a few liberties, and changed it into `How many ways can one tile a board?’.”

Prof (same guy who teaches algebraic graph theory): “Is the answer different?”

Convocation 2011: Masters’  wear blue robes with a red and yellow hood for Science, and a red and white hood for God knows what other field was graduating with us. Doctorates wear regal red gowns which might have befit Henry VIII. Anyway, there were three of us, mostly fitted out, one doctorate and two masters. And the doctorate noticed that the colours of the two masters’ hoods were different – one of us was wearing the wrong hood. Luckily for me, I was fitted out right, and it was my friend who had to get his hood changed. This is what passed while he was gone.

Doc: “I don’t know if they would have let him have the degree if he wore the wrong hood on stage.”

Me: “Yeah. I would never have noticed it. It is probably a good thing that your thesis was on colouring graphs.”

Yes, I know my sense of humour has jaded. Do not fret. I hear crazy people are far funnier after their descent into madness.


6 thoughts on “Humour in Academia

  1. Shrey Banga says:

    I read in Logicomix how mathematicians and madness have a long history together. Hopefully you will squeeze out a thesis pioneering Raptor Algebra before that happens.

  2. Chronoz says:

    Go send a mail to Jorge Stam. I see atleast 5 PhDComics in this post.

  3. Chronoz says:

    What’s with the weird theme?

  4. Saagar says:

    300 badly written answers?
    Not long ago, Rapistaan- Rasiya, SatP and dear old Bilbo would have made very similar remarks. You are rapidly moving to the other dark side.
    It’s a real pity there doesn’t seem to be room for another geeky webcomic. I really think we should revisit the idea of my gay superhero with the ultra-hot sidekick and figure out how to geek it up.

  5. Sundaresh says:

    Lefty, are you talking about a Mathew’s V for Venn Data? Shreyas, it is Jorge Cham. Sorry I could not help myself there but I completely agree with the sentiment.

  6. Amul says:

    I was grading Thermo quizzes once, and it was asked to give an example of adiabatic process (no heat going in or out of the system). One of the kids bravely answered, “Love”. I had to ask “How?”

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