Hillary Clinton, for one. On June 1 she told a rally: “You can’t make this up. … Just yesterday we heard the truth about Donald Trump’s big talk about helping veterans. It wasn’t until the press shamed him that he actually made the donations. For months it was just a publicity stunt.”
And Salon on July 19: “Monday afternoon at a pro-Trump rally … a 16-year-old girl named Kate Kuptenko was called to the stage to sing an original song called, and you can’t make this stuff up, ‘Making America Great Again/Political Correctness.’”
As Britain voted to Brexit, Mr. Trump celebrated the opening of his renovated Turnberry golf resort in Scotland. Freak Out Nation reported on June 24, “Trump ended his speech by bringing up his children, who then spoke about the golf course, too. You can’t make this stuff up. ‘I hope we make Turnberry great again,’ said Donald Trump Jr.”
On June 16, Business Insider reported, “Paul Ryan laughed during his Thursday press briefing when asked about Donald Trump’s demand he made Wednesday that GOP leaders who’ve been critical of Trump ‘be quiet.’
“‘You can’t make this up sometimes,’ the Republican House Speaker said. ‘We represent a separate but equal branch of government.’”
And so it goes this political season. As BornToRunTheNumbers.com remarked on July 15, “‘You Can’t Make This Stuff Up’ is threatening to become a regular weekly feature, and with the Trump campaign, even that frequency might not be enough.”
It’s not just politics, though. “You can’t make this stuff up” seems to be a 21st-century phrase suited for all occasions. Last year the Free Thought Project headlined, “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Cops Begin Carrying Nunchucks to Subdue Suspects.”
And a website for 911 dispatchers has a page labeled You-can’t-make-this-stuff up, including among many examples a caller’s question, “What’s the number for 911?”
There are even at least two books with this phrase as a title. One is Lee Gutkind’s You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction — From Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between, published 2012.
Three years later Theresa Caputo, a medium, published You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Life-Changing Lessons from Heaven. She “shares the insights and lessons she’s learned through her exceptional gift of communicating with the dead.”
More plaintively, in her memoir A Long Journey to Home (2014), Samantha Crystal writes of her grandfather, “HE WAS a COWARD & CREEP (honestly you CAN NOT make this stuff up!).”
It would seem that such a useful sentence as this one has been around forever. But as far as I can tell, it hasn’t been. Well, we certainly have a need for it now.
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