Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: When Bono announced that every time he clapped a child in Africa died, someone from the audience told him to stop doing that.
Origins: Born Paul Hewson on
As a social activist, Bono has performed at numerous events intended to raise consciousness about world poverty (such as Band Aid and Live Aid), consorted with world leaders (including
According to the lore of the moment, the concert where the superstar supposedly tells the crowd every time he claps his hands another child in Africa dies takes place in Glasgow. Or
But it's not a true account of an actual occurrence. It is, rather, an updating of a joke by way of attaching it to a particular performer.
This tall tale's origins lie in a commercial made as part of 2005's "Make Poverty History" campaign. In that ad, a bevy of celebrities (including Bono) are shown wordlessly snapping their fingers every three seconds, with a voiceover stating "A child dies completely unnecessarily as a result of extreme poverty every three seconds."
As so many things do, the ad provided fodder for stand-up comedians who earn their laughs through their commentary on the pop culture of the day. UK comedian Jimmy Carr said of the commercial on his 2005 Jimmy Carr Live Stand
As to why the joke has attached to Bono, unflattering or dismissive stories about the famous are often a way of giving voice to negative opinions about those who star in such tales. This September 2006
Bono and his U2 bandmates continue to pay personal income taxes in Ireland, but their music publishing corporation is now being taxed in the Netherlands and so does not contribute to the coffers that fund Ireland's humanitarian efforts in Africa.
Barbara "cui bono?" Mikkelson
Update: In September 2007 we saw the tale reworked into a jab at Democratic Presidential nominee hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton:
Hillary and Gun ControlIn June 2008, the tale was once again reworked into a jab at a Democratic Presidential nominee hopeful, this time Senator Barack Obama:
Hillary Clinton, the lead Presidential Democratic Party candidate is for banning all guns in America. She is considered by those who have dealt with her as a little more than just a little self-righteous.
At a recent rural elementary school meeting in north Florida she asked the kids audience for total quiet. Then, in the silence, she started to slowly clap her hands, once every few seconds. Holding the audience in total silence, she said into the microphone, "Every time I clap my hands, a child in America dies from gun violence."
A young voice with a proud southern accent from the front of the crowd pierced the quiet!.
"Well, just stop clappin, ya evil bitch!"
A LITTLE FELLER IN EAST TEXASAdditional information:
Barack Obama, the lead Presidential Democratic Party candidate, is for banning all guns in America. He is considered by those who have dealt with him as a bit more than just a little self-righteous.
At a recent rural elementary school assembly in East Texas, he asked the audience for total quiet. Then, in the silence, he started to slowly clap his hands once every few seconds, holding the audience in total silence.
Then he said into the microphone, "Children, every time I clap my hands together, a child in America dies from gun violence."
Then, little Richard Earl, with a proud East Texas drawl, pierced the quiet and said:
"Well, dumb-ass, stop clapping."
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.