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Top five Comedy Slip Hazards

Objects used to make people slip up in comedy sketches, cartoons in particular, have always been popular. Here, we take a look at what we believe are the top five slip hazards and the reasons for them being so slippery…..



slip-on-bananaBrought to New York City in the mid-19th century, bananas spread quickly across America, becoming a popular street food. An increase in migration and the lack of sanitation regulations began to pose a major problem in cities. People throwing their garbage in the street caused a build-up of public waste and the foul stench that usually comes with it. While they seem to favor the fresh banana peel in cartoons, the reality of a rotten, slime covered banana peel in the streets of the mid-19th century New York City was actually a major slip hazard.

The St Louis’ Council eventually outlawed the discarding of banana skins in the street. Before this, discarding banana skins in the street became a symbol of poor manners, with children warned that throwing a banana skin as such would injure someone, possibly causing a broken limb and filling the children with guilt by telling them that the said injured person would end up in a poor house.

It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that the dreaded banana peel would be featured in comedy as a slip hazard. A comedian by the name of Billy Watson, later known as “sliding” Billy Watson, became inventor, albeit self-proclaimed of the banana skin pratfall, after seeing a man struggle to maintain his balance after slipping on one.

Thankfully, sanitization regulations have made a major step up since then, so you can rest easy knowing that you are more likely to see one on a cartoon or comedy show than you are in the street. However, that does not mean you shouldn’t be on your guard, there may be bad mannered individuals still out there.



slip-on-iceAn obvious choice for comedy, used, at times, to devastatingly hilarious effect, but it is also a very obvious danger in real life.

But what makes ice so slippery? Well, referring to a few articles online, there are a few opinions. The first, is that physicists initially thought it was due to applied pressure, which lowered the melting temperature of the top layer. This was theorized due to water having the unusual property of being surprisingly less dense as a solid than when it is a liquid.

Another, is one that would seem obvious to many, that the friction from a moving shoe, skate or tire causes the heat necessary to melt the ice beneath it.

The last opinion I will add here is that the surface of the ice is slippery due to water molecules on the surface of the ice vibrate more because there are no molecules above to hold them in place, so they essentially remain as an unfrozen liquid, even at temperatures far below freezing.


Oil slick

oilWhether it was to stop a pursuer, on foot or vehicle, or to generally be a nuisance, oil is existent in many comedy sketches and cartoons, but it’s purpose is the reason why it is slippery, or at least one of them.

Oil is generally used as a lubricant, for vehicles and other mechanical moving parts and this is generally the one that is portrayed in comedy sketches. Generally viscous in nature, at least at room temperature, it is comprised of molecules that do not bind to each other by dispersion forces, which allows them to glide across each other unhindered. They do however, bind to certain other objects effortlessly, meaning that when you step on it, you have just stopped in to a pile of molecules that in turn cause a low energy surface, causing you to slip and possibly fall. This is why it is so important that spills are dealt with as efficiently as possible to prevent injuries.



slip on marblesThis is definitely more fiction than fact, not to say it doesn’t happen in the real world, but using marbles as a slip hazard has been in many a story tellers repertoire and I think the reason for them being considered slippery is pretty obvious, they are round, but them on a flat surface, and stability is lost. You could always make a mistake and drop them on soft ground of course, which makes their powers useless *insert evil laughter here*.



slip on waterWater, where there is water, there is a potential slip hazard. Probably the least used in comedy, but still one that features none the less, used by protagonists mainly when they want ice to slow down their pursuers.

Why is water slippery? Well, water, like everything is made of molecules, although these are free flowing molecules, prevalent in most liquids. To stand on molecules that do not simply bond would create a low energy surface that flows, and take your feet with it, as it prevents any grip with the surface beneath.

While many of these are laughed at on screen or stage, at some point in time, the majority have been and continue to be a major problem. Prevention is better than the cure, so by ensuring you prevent slip hazards before they have the chance to develop saves hardship for people due to injury, time off work and the financial implications that come with that. For the business, by preventing this, you also prevent costly payouts due to compensation and lost productivity.

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