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There's a classic Saturday Night Live sketch which features the Conehead family participating in the popular game show "Family Feud." One of the questions is "Name something people like to bite," and Connie Conehead matches the most popular survey response when she intones "The Big One!"

Now Laraine Newman's delivery of the line is hilarious, but I have to confess that I've never gotten the actual joke. I've always understood the expression "to bite the big one" to mean "to die," and I can't find that it has any other commonly-understood meaning (apart from a highly-downvoted definition on Urban Dictionary).

So...explain the joke to me, please. People don't like to die, generally speaking, so why would a large fraction of a random survey say that they do?

All I can suppose is that it's supposed to be humorously random, but, well, it still doesn't make any sense. It's akin to the most popular answer to "What do people like to stab?" being "Their own eyeballs!" or to "What do people like to lose?" being "All their money!"

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    I've usually heard it as a kind of "screw you." – Meat Trademark Aug 20 '18 at 21:32
  • I kind of first took a vulgar approach as to what the big one actually might have meant... but in doing some research, I have relieved myself of my nasty, indecent perspective. – Feeds Aug 20 '18 at 21:45
  • Also, this confirms your interpretation of the idiom to be correct. – Feeds Aug 20 '18 at 23:38
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You are correct that "to bite the big one" is an idiom referring to the death of the one who does the biting. There is no other interpretation I'm familiar with, either.

So...explain the joke to me, please. People don't like to die, generally speaking, so why would a large fraction of a random survey say that they do?

Logically, a large part of a survey group probably wouldn't give this answer, of course. But keep in mind this is an SNL skit - SNL is not generally known for being logical in their skits.

The joke here is two-fold:

  1. Connie Conehead, being an alien, gave an illogical answer to the question because she misunderstood human culture and/or didn't really know what the expression meant. I think you understood why this part was funny.

  2. Unexpectedly, she got the number one answer, which is funny precisely because we don't expect it. You, the viewing audience, wouldn't expect her answer to be a good one, but then it was, so we laugh at the absurdity of that fact.

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