SAT Prep for Comedians: MATH

I took the SAT's twice. The first time, I studied really hard and got an 1880. The second time, I didn't study at all and got a 2060. A complete 180! Now, I'm not bragging; I'm merely pointing out the fact that sometimes, depending on the day, things happen that influence your score. It's completely arbitrary. 

That being said, I know my stuff (800 on the math section of the SAT test (now I'm bragging!)). I want to help out my fellow comedians too! So, for the rest of this month, I'll be posting SAT prep questions for comedians. This week: Math!

Question: Jim hosts a free open mic on Tuesday nights. He can have, at most, 25 men sign up at 8:00 p.m. Those who pay $5 can choose between the first 5 spots. The rest go into a random lottery. How many different combinations of line ups can he have and how much money does he make? a) 3 x 10^20, $25   b) 3 x 10^21, $25   c) 3 x 10^20, $0   d) 3 x 10^21, $0

OK, on the surface, this question seems daunting and hard. But let's take a closer look at it. I would start by removing all of the unnecessary information. You don't need the Tuesday night or the 8:00 p.m. Get rid of it! That information is a lot like college; You don't need it. Don't be fooled by it's lure. That siren costs $100,000 paid out over the rest of your life. Don't be stupid. Also, you don't need the part about the men. That is assumed because, as we all know, women aren't funny. (That's a joke! No emails, please!)

Next, you can assume that about 80% of men at this mic are broke, since they want to be comedians. So that means that 80% can't pay $5 and 20% can. 20% * 25 = 5.  So 5 people can pay. Well, that's just 5! (five factorial = 5*4*3*2*1 = 120), or how many different ways you can arrange 5 people. Then, the lottery is just a random ordering of 25 people less the 5 from the beginning, or 20! (20*19*18*17*16*etc...) as well. I know this is boring but trust me, this test determines the rest of your life. Take it seriously. So, at the end of this, you have 5! * 20! = 2.9195 x 10^20 line ups of not quite comedians waiting to tell their dumb jokes. And that's the answer! 

But wait! Don't forget to read every question carefully. There's a second part. How much money does Jim make? That's easy, $25 right? Wrong! It's a trick question! The $25 goes back to the bar so that the mic can continue to be kept a free mic. So, the answer is 3 x 10^20 line ups, $0, or (C). When in doubt, it's always (C). So that's it! You're done. 

Next week: Critical Reading!