Cliff Clavin’s Buffalo Theory

Jun 9th, 2009 | By | Category: Jokes & Trivia

I was wondering how Cheers today doesn’t get much popular culture recognition like Friends or Seinfeld. Considering that after a bad start in 1982, it ran to eleven seasons in 1993, maybe these numbers speak for themselves. That way back in the pre-history of popular culture preeminence, only silver surfers will remember the bar where everybody knows your name. With an exterior set at the Bull & Finch Pub, north of the Boston Public Gardens, in Beacon Street, one might say that’s where Cliff Clavin, the “winged nut that holds western civilization together” and mailman extraordinaire, dispenses to Humanity those tidbits of useless trivia, illuminating the minds of all walking down the street, the sort of random facts that the Carl Sagan Generation loved to pry into from World of Fact books, and today to our delight we incessantly chase after in Wikipedia. Yes, Cliff Clavin, unrecognized as he is, was a trail-blazer. Like so many other sitcom characters that turned oddball personae mainstream, Cliff is inspirational to any out of work physicist. There’s life after Physics, either at the Post Office, or guzzling down beer in the nearest bar. I propose the street from Beacon, be renamed after Clavin. It would still mean the same thing.

Anyway, rumor has it that Cliff, in one of Cheers episodes, proposed to Norm what is known as “The Buffalo Theory”. Attribution is given to him, though Wikipedia says that no such thing ever happened in Cheers. In any case, the page about him takes it as necessary to explain that Science does not corroborate this theory, perhaps because when telling a joke, we should point out to the listener any factual errors or inaccuracies in it, duhh! Because I saw the exact same text used by Wikipedia, in the public domain before the Cliff Clavin page was edited to include the Buffalo Theory, I’ll simply give you the text that was circulating about 1 year ago:

“Well you see, Norm, it’s like this…

“A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

“In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine.

“And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”

Remember, this is a JOKE…

(Unfortunately, I could not get a good sample of quintessential Cliff, due to either bad audio or picture quality. However, YouTube has many full episodes cut up in 9 minutes videos. Check them out for the popular culture value.)

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