More is More
16th February, 2009
There are few things more awe-inspiring in nature than the massing in vast numbers of a single species of animal. To explain why the phenomenon is so thrilling requires an understanding of why and how it happens in the first place
Back in the late 1980s, when alternative comedy had been declared the new black, the successor to rock ’n’ roll, you could barely go anywhere in London without catching a bit of standup. Pubs, clubs, wherever you went, if the day ended in a ‘y’ it turned into Comedy Nite. Some of it was pretty funny, too, although I could barely remember most of the gags the very next morning, let alone a decade and a half later.
One routine, however, did stick in my mind. Back then, conservation was largely centred on the struggle for survival of large and familiar animals, and someone had worked out that across the plains, deserts and forests of Africa, where once millions of elephants roamed only a fraction now survived. One comedian – I forget who he was – picked up on this.
‘So, only 600,000 elephants remain. You’re reading about it in all the papers. Everyone agrees it’s terrible. But I’m not so sure. It’s that word “only” that gets me. I mean, we’re talking about 600,000 elephants, here. Imagine what that looks like. Think about it. Someone shows you 600,000 elephants, what are you gonna do? Shrug and say, “is that all you...
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