High on potenuse math joke – Why is it funny?

They say that you should never explain jokes because you’re just going to end up ruining them. But I’m afraid that is precisely what I’ll be doing today.

Some of you may have found that Key and Peele sketch online where they’re in a maths class and the teacher is explaining how to find the hypotenuse of a triangle. As soon as she says the word, one of her students says “I wish I was high on potenuse”.

The joke is that “high on potenuse” sounds like hypotenuse- the longest side of a right-angled triangle.

In this article, we’ll be looking at how to find it, how knowing how to find it can be useful, and I’m afraid, probably ruining the joke forever.

What is the hypotenuse?

Every right angle triangle is made up of three lines. The first two join together to form an L shape. This shape is a perfect 90o. If it isn’t, then, it isn’t a right-angled triangle.

There will also need to be a line connecting the endpoints of the L shape. This line is what we call the hypotenuse. To find the length of the hypotenuse, we need to know about the sum A2+B2=C2.

This sum is known as the Pythagorean Theorem.

Finding C

Let’s look at the example above.

C is the longest side. This will be the side that connects A and B.

By the way, it doesn’t matter at all which side is A and which side is B, so long as the longest one is C.

We know that side A is 6, and side B is 8. We can use this information.

If A2+B2=C2 that must mean that 62+82=C2

62 gives us 36. And 82 gives us 64.

Therefore 36+64=C2. 100=C2

If we know that C2 is 100, to find C, we need to find the square root of 100. Which is 10!

Finding A or B

But what if we already know the length of C and we need to find the length of A.

We can rewrite the sum.

We know that B2 is 64 and C2 is 100.

The sum is now x2+64=100

First of all, we’ll need to take 64 from 100. By doing this, you’ll get the answer of 36.


And to find x when we know that x2 is 36, all we have to do is find the square root of 36. This will give you 6.

What use is knowing this stuff?

I remember when I was at school, I used to wonder what the point in learning about Pythagoras and the hypotenuse was. But when I grew up, I came to realise that actually, knowing about this stuff is more useful than it might seem at first.

The first usage will be in measuring. Almost every room in every house is going to have 4 corners, these are going to be right angles. By knowing about the Pythagorean Theorem, I have been able to make better measurements and fit things into the corner more effectively.

It’s also vital for when you need to figure out the steepness of a slope.

Maths Jokes

There’s no denying that maths can be a difficult topic. Many of us will get stressed and annoyed when trying to figure out the answers to maths questions.

However, the usage of humour can help to make some of this pain that little bit more bearable. When you tell a joke about something, you’re mocking it. By being able to mock maths and laugh at it, you’ll be better equipped for approaching it with confidence.

It’s no longer something to be afraid of. It’s now something for you to laugh in the face of.

Key and Peele

Key and Peele are one of the most famous comedy duos in America today. They are loved up and down the country and all over the world.

Their creative abilities and talent in comedy have allowed them to go from performing in bars, to selling out venues, and having multiple successful TV shows.

If you’re ever in the mood for a laugh, I would highly recommend going onto YouTube and watching some of their videos.

In my opinion, the “high on potenuse” joke is one of their best. But they have plenty of others which are also hilarious.

What is “high”?

In case you don’t understand the joke because you aren’t too sure what “high” means, then you’ve either been living under a rock your whole life, or you’re younger than 15.

If you’re the latter, please forgive me. If you’re the former, welcome to the real world.

“High” is the feeling you get when you take particular drugs, usually Cannabis. It causes your brain to become relaxed, and you start having some weird and deep thoughts.

For some, it’s a nice way to relax after a stressful day. But be careful, getting high can be extremely dangerous, and sometimes lead to death.

High vs Drunk

There is somewhat of a debate as to whether it’s better to be high or drunk.

Being high means, you’re chill and entirely at peace with the world. Whereas being drunk means, you’re in the mood to party and dance.

However, when some people get drunk, they can become rather violent. Being violent is a lot less likely when you’re high on Cannabis.

Plus, unlike getting drunk, when you get high, you won’t be needing to deal with a hangover the next day. You can wake up early and have a full and productive day.

There are no two ways about it, high people are better than drunk people.


I’m afraid there isn’t such a drug as “potenuse”, so I’m afraid you can’t get high on it. The hypotenuse is the longest side of a right-angled triangle. You can find it by knowing about the Pythagorean Theorem A2+B2=C2.

Even though the drug doesn’t exist, it’s good to be able to poke fun at such tricky maths. Joking can give you the confidence to approach these kinds of sums without having to worry about the alphabet getting involved with maths.

And who better to joke about maths than the geniuses “Key and Peele”.