Saturday, March 2, 2013

I read it in a book, so it must be true

What possibly could be worse than using a quote that is two-decades old, and now is a tired cliche? How about getting that quote wrong.

Page 504 of Geoff Tibballs’ 2004 collection, The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners, contains the following:

“A recent survey stated that the average person’s greatest fear is having to give a speech in public. Somehow this ranked even higher than death, which was third on the list. So, you’re telling me that at a funeral, most people would rather be the guy in the coffin than have to stand up and give a eulogy. - Jerry Seinfeld”

That quote was used by speech coach Harrison Monarth in an article from 2006 that was reposted last year, and also appears on the searchQuotes and Quote Collection web sites.

But, Jerry never really said that. If he had, then his nemesis Newman would have asked:

“Jerry - what was second on the list?”

What Jerry Seinfeld actually said on his TV show in 1993 was shorter and funnier:

“According to most studies, people’s number-one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. ‘Death’ is number two! Now, this means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

You can watch it on YouTube here, or see the later version from a DVD here. Whether you read it in a book, saw it in a newspaper, or saw it on the web in an article or a tweet, it just might not be true. Always look it up first, or you might spread nonsense around.

No comments: