Follow TV Tropes


Web Video / True Facts

Go To

Here we will explore true facts about the Troper.

True Facts is a series of videos created by Hosea "Ze" Frank, about various organisms (usually animals) that inhabit our planet, styled after nature documentaries. What separates True Facts from your typical nature documentary is the narrator's comedic phrasing, unusual comparisons, and frequent tangents while still providing reasonably accurate lessons on each topic. Older videos used a Morgan Freeman-like voice, though they've gradually evolved away from that.

Ze Frank takes suggestions from his viewers on what animals to make videos for, and he encourages scientists, pet owners, biology weirdos, photographers, and videographers to contact him with ideas.

The series went on seemingly indefinite hiatus in August 2014 but unexpectedly returned in April 2018 with "True Facts: Frog Fish" and hasn't looked back since.

When the troper talk about True Facts, they provide examples in which they call "tropes". Imagine giving a sandwich to literature nerd and they'll take it apart and explain all the ingredients in detail before eating it:

  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: In the video "Fish That Suck", the narrator points out the oddity of how most fish eat; specifically, how weird it is that their jaws function. His explanation for this oddity is that "[Most] fish suck. They also use suction to feed."
  • Beyond the Impossible: When talking about the mantis shrimp's ability to see colours that humans cannot, Ze Frank tells the viewer to "Imagine a colour that you can't even imagine," and to do it nine times.
  • Black Comedy: Since Nature Is Not Nice, jokes about animals killing each other are all around.
  • Blatant Lies: The very title itself is sometimes one, as despite claiming to be "true facts" about animals, they sometimes just make up nonsense for laughs, most notably in "True Facts About the Hedgehog."
    Narrator: "The hedgehog is technically a legume, and therefore has a second brain inside of its nipple."
  • Bowdlerise: Ze Frank has a side channel where he uploads edited versions of the series under the title "Educational Edition". Aimed at schools and younger viewers, these versions remove any suggestive content or have some jokes redubbed. For example, in the "Mosquito" episode, the line "like that one time he said "boob" by mistake and everyone laughs at him" was changed where "boob" was replaced with "moo".
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: One parasitic fungus causes the corpses of infected flies to release chemicals that induce healthy flies to mate with said corpses, which then become attached. The narrator mentions that the subsequent corpse stuck to your backside would make for an awkward conversation at work.
    Narrator: You know Dave from accounting is going to say something like, "Oh, looks like you had an interesting weekend." And you're like, "Yes, it was a nice weekend, Dave. Went antiquing, planted some herbs, f***ed a corpse, and did some light spring cleaning, thank you very much. Freaking Dave."
  • Buffy Speak: The narrator resorts to this on occasion.
    Narrator: "This however does not mean they can... self-baby-make."
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Jerry keeps putting inappropriate jokes in the scripts or putting in the wrong images.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Jerry, one of the researchers. He frequently is chided when the narrator encounters incorrect footage or questionable phrasing.
    • David, the idiot. He appears in some of the invertebrate videos as whichever subject is doing something incorrectly. In "Ant Mutualism," one of the worker ants who brings poop back to the nest is David, and in "The Sand Bubbler Crab," David is the one crab not making a burrow.
  • Captain Obvious: "The tallest giraffe is taller than any other giraffe."
  • Censored for Comedy: Sometimes innocent words are bleeped out.
    • In "Carnivorous Plants," the word "clock" is censored while the word "cock" is not. The narrator himself is confused by the censorship.
    • In "Trap Jaw Ants", the beep is applied liberally:
      Scientists call these sticky doorknobs. Not kidding. Sounds like a good name for a f*bleep*k band. Jerry, why'd you- I said "f*bleep*k band". You think I said "f*bleep*k"? Tell me: what is a "f*bleep*k band", Jerry? The bleep button is a privilege.
  • Character Catchphrase:
    • When describing an animal's unique action or behavior, the narrator will use the phrase "To understand this, imagine X. That is how the Y do."
    • "Just remember, if (insert nonsensical situation), then (insert something silly about featured creature)."
    • "No judging" / "Don't judge" when a creature needs to do something gross to survive, like breathing through their butt.
    • "Where were we? Oh, right" following the sponsored ad break.
  • Confusion Fu: The sea cucumber poops out its lungs when threatened. "Needless to say, the predator is confused by this."
  • Content Warnings: "True Facts is not appropriate for children, or for adults who do not act like children."
  • Corpsing: invoked When a video "surprises" the narrator, he'll often start laughing — inappropriate for the professional tone he's going for but in-character for him. Every video contains laughter somewhere, giving the impression he's watching the footage for the first time as he reads the script.
    "Here, the majestic dragonfly." (laughs) "Well that moment's ruined. And the damselfly." (laughs) "Really? I'm trying for gravitas here."
  • Curse Cut Short:
    • From "True Facts About the Dung Beetle":
      "When it strays off course, the dung beetle climbs on top of its ball and uses the position of the sun, the moon and even the Milky Way to re-orient itself. Sort of like how ancient sailors once did. Except without the giant ball of shi—" (cuts to next clip)
    • In "True Facts: The Mosquito", over footage of a mosquito adult emerging from the pupal stage:
      Dale? Dale, I think you should see this. There's something in the water. No, it's not the dog. Well I don't know what it is, Dale. Describe it? All right. It looks like Snuffleupagus but reimagined as a dildo, wearing glasses. Does that help, Dale? No, I'm not drunk. Dale, I really thing you shou- [mosquito's appendages unfurl] What the fu— [cut] Let's back up a bit.
  • Cute Owl: "About the Owl" is chock-full of examples. They include:
    • A burrowing owl doing an extreme version of the Quizzical Tilt.
    • A pygmy owl... in the process of killing a woodpecker.
    • Another burrowing owl investigating a tunnel camera.
    • Owls of various species being petted by humans, and apparently enjoying it a lot.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A first time viewer wouldn't recognize this as comedy series based on his voice alone, delivering jokes with the same panache he does an actual fact.
  • Deaf Composer: Discussed in "True Facts About the Cuttlefish", about the cuttlefish's incredible color changing skills despite the animal being colorblind:
    "Like a lactose-intolerant cheese maker, the cuttlefish is unaware of its own gifts."
  • Dissimile: Often. For example, when talking about how quietly the owl can fly:
    Narrator: "If silence were loudness they would be the loudest flying bird... that's, that's a terrible metaphor."
    Narrator: "Basically, the difference between a teddy bear and a mantis is... everything."
    Narrator: "It's like the Internet, except communicated by pissing all over stu— it's basically the Internet."
  • Downer Ending: "Reef Corals" ends on the topic of coral bleaching. Lampshaded by the narrator, who calls out Jerry for ending the video on a depressing note.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: "True Facts About the Hedgehog" was the very first of these videos. While later videos are a mix of actual facts and nonsensical jokes, this one is almost exclusively the latter, and the narrator sounds completely different, with no Morgan Freeman impression.
  • Embarrassing Hobby: In "The Wacky Giraffe", the narrator admits that he used to collect Lisa Frank stickers.
  • Eyeball-Plucking Birds: In "True Facts About the Owl", ZeFrank tells a (non-existent) German fairy tale in which an owl rips a girl's face off and eats her eyeballs.
    "... and then the owl hooted."
  • Face of a Thug: He comments during "True Facts: The Ogre Faced Spider" that one of the titular spiders appears to have an unusually furious face as it has a meal.
    Narrator: "...Heh, she looks pissed. It's like a lunch date after a bad argument. Rage-chewing."
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
  • Freudian Slip:
    • "True Facts About the Armadillo" starts this way.
      Narrator: "Here are true facts about the arma-dildo—hmm, that's a typo. Here are true facts about the arma-dildo - oops. I said it again, two times."
    • The narrator, describing surfing snails on a beach:
      Narrator: "However, Abigail is not the only surfer on this bitch—beach. Oh."
    • A Running Gag, starting from "Pangolins Posse", has the narrator fumble a sentence starting with "but" by saying "butt" instead before correcting himself.
      Narrator: "Butt molecules in the air are all mixed—sorry."
  • Gag Penis: If the animal being discussed has genitalia, there's a good chance that a good portion of the video will be devoted to discussing it. "True Facts about the Duck" is pretty much entirely about the duck's mating process.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band:
    • In "True Facts: Ant Mutualism," the narrator claims "Fungus Chambers" is a good name for a band.
    • In "Trap Jaw Ants", the narrator identifies the bumps on trap jaw ant larvae as sticky doorknobs and says "sticky doorknobs" sounds like a good name for a funk band.
    • When discussing the placement of testicles in the elephant's body, the narrator brings up the "hot testicle hypothesis" (which posits that the same proteins that protect and repair heat damage similarly inhibit the development of testicular cancer), which he then claims would be a good band name.
  • Groin Attack: The narrator mentions in the Sea Stars video that having "sticking-out" body parts is dangerous, and that's why nudist colonies don't have dog parks.
  • Hollywood Chameleons: In "True Facts About the Chameleon," the narrator notes that a chameleon's best deception isn't their color changing, but that it tricked humans into thinking they can do it for camoflage.
  • How We Got Here: "Killer Surfing Snails" has two using the same footage of one species of marine snail pursuing a much smaller one. The first is at the very beginning of the video, before the narrator says, "Let's back up a bit" and introduces "Abigail" the O. semistriatta (the smaller snail), and the second precedes a physical description of A. propatula (the larger snail).
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Margaret the Ogre Faced Spider finds it ironic how the creature who gave her species' name is a nightmarish behemoth who has teeth as big as her face. She has given that creature the name of "F*bleep*stick Bastard F*bleep*wad."
  • Hurricane of Puns: The "Stinkhorn" episode has a series of rapid-fire penis-related innuendos, with the narrator trying to find out what the stinkhorn resembles.
    "Jerry, I feel like these remind me of something, but I just can't... It's on the tip of my tongue. It's on the tip of your tongue, too, Jerry. Well, I'm sure if it's on the tip of both our tongues, it'll come to one of us. If it comes to you first, Jerry, just spit it out."
  • Inherently Funny Words: "Bobbit worm."
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    • Tarsiers are the only primates that are completely carnivorous. So if you don't eat your vegetables, you'll wind up looking like a tarsier.
    • Due to there being no consensus on how the giraffe evolved its long neck, the narrator believes that giraffes are actually sock puppets that look like ducks pretending to be giraffes. Which are used by lions as disguises when hunting.
    • "The Platypus Conspiracy": Even after the narrator is found out, he insists that there's no such thing as a beaver and that they're just backwards platypuses.
  • Insect Gender-Bender: Worker ants are sometimes referred to with male names and male pronouns.
  • Insistent Terminology: Scientists and researchers, in the context of their work on the videos' subject matter, are always referred to as "science hippies". If the videos' comments are anything to go by, the science hippies enjoy this name and find it an accurate description of themselves.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: The narrator's description of bacon from a sea pig.
    Narrator: "One way to tell the difference [between a land pig and a sea pig] is that bacon from a land pig tastes delicious, while bacon from a sea pig tastes like a fish farted on a dirty beach cracker."
  • Lame Pun Reaction: The narrator isn't above making "dad jokes" himself, but a particularly bad pun will have him mutter "kill me" under his breath.
  • Less Embarrassing Term: From the Snake and Lizard Tongue video, regarding researcher Dr. Kurt Schwenk:
    Narrator: "He's been studying tongues for decades! No, Jerry, it's not a fetish. If a scientist does it, it's an 'area of interest'."
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Referenced in "Trap Jaw Ants" when introducing Mildred and Madison the worker ants' parents. The father doesn't look like their daughters, much less an ant, "so there were rumors".
  • Metaphorgotten: Often. e.g.:
    "The land snail is just like a tiny human, who happens to look like a disembodied tongue. And is covered in mucus. And has a shell. The land snail breathes air, just like the peoples do, and eats with its mouth-hole..."
  • Mind Screw: "The cuttlefish's brain is larger than its entire body. Including its brain. Which might not make sense but it does to the cuttlefish. Because it has a very large brain."
  • Monster Clown: The mantis shrimp is described as the ancestor of the modern clown, and like the modern clown, the mantis shrimp is a psychopath.
  • Nature Is Not Nice: A common theme in many episodes. Ze discusses parasites, predation, Body Horror, and the... diversity of sexual adaptations found in nature, with the same pleasant tone that he uses for every other topic.
  • Newhart Phonecall: At least Once an Episode, the narrator converses with someone (usually researcher Jerry), and only the narrator's lines can be heard.
    Well, that's the definition of trust, isn't it? How close will you allow someone's teeth to your genitals? Well... that's flattering, Jerry, but I- w- meant it as a rhetorical question. No, I don't want to answer it for you. Fine, three inches. I know that's farther than what you said, Jerry.
  • "No. Just… No" Reaction: The Narrator's response to the acorn worm, the only footage of which is it... excreting a very long, very large amount of waste material.
  • Noodle Incident: Mildred the trap jaw ant has beef with one of Dr. Adrian Smith's (a real entomologist who consulted for the video) fingers. Not the whole Dr. Smith. Just that specific finger.
    Narrator: No, Jerry, I don't know what the backstory is. [beat] Well, what Dr. Adrian Smith does with his fingers is none of our business.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Occasionally, when the narrator states a fact that seems particularly outlandish.
    Right here. Those four little bumpy things. Scientists call these sticky doorknobs. Not kidding.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Narrator sometimes gets this reaction when something violent happens in the video, or he gets surprised.
  • Ostrich Head Hiding: Mentioned at the very end of the Ostrich video.
    Narrator: "Just as a coda, one of the ostriches asked me to read this: Dear Viewer! Ostriches don't stick their heads in the sand. If you keep saying that, I will stick my head in your butt.' You know, as I'm reading this, I feel like he might not have thought that all the way through."
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Ze Frank notes that the octopus is the most intelligent invertebrate, then goes on to say that this isn't as impressive as it sounds, since "clams are stupid."
  • Parasite Zombie: Three different ones in Fungi That Control The Insects They Eat: one that causes ants to bite something and then eats the jaw muscles so they can't let go, another that releases chemicals that cause healthy flies to try to mate with an infected corpse, and one that eats a cicada's entire abdomen.
  • Pink Elephants: At the beginning of "True Facts: The Mosquito", the narrator calls to Dale about something in the water (an adult mosquito emerging from the pupal stage), describing it as "Snuffleupagus but reimagined as a dildo, wearing glasses". Dale asks him if he's drunk.
  • Running Gag:
    • Emphasizing the word "but" so that it sounds like "butt," then doing a quick Verbal Backspace.
      And these little conidia start to infect their host's butt! Sorry. Their hosts, but in a different way.
      • This gag has been reversed at times, as well. For example, when talking about the American College of Gastroenterology ("Honestly, it's a bunch of a**holes. Like, actually.").
        "But doctors find all — sorry, butt doctors find all sorts of things in their examinations.
    • Portraying clams as "dumb as hell"—particularly in the "Octopus" video, but it occasionally comes up elsewhere.
    • From the "Deception in the Rainforest" video, different forms of mimicry being named after different scientists, who are dead. (Except for Lawrence Gilbert, who is hopefully taking good care of himself.)
    • Jerry screwing up somehow, either in terms of the script, visuals or censor bleeps.
    • The Narrator muttering "kill me" after a particularly bad pun.
    • From the "Crows That Hunt With Sticks" video, talking about the fictional Old Caledonian Crows, portrayed as being much more dumber than their New Caledonian counterparts.
  • Self-Deprecation: In "Macaques," at the beginning:
    "Today, we will explore the culture of the... macca-cway. Jerry, how do you say this one? You think it's muh-cock? No, it's too long to be muh-cock."
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    • From "True Facts About Sloths":
      "As it is, the sloth mainly eats leaves, because they tend not to run away. The only drawback being, they taste like leaves."
    • From "The Curious Adaptations of Sharks":
      "Many sharks can swim quite quickly, which is handy, because sharks tend to live in places where there are sharks."
    • From "True Facts: Elephants":
      "[Elephant trunks] can lift up to seven hundred pounds. Which is the equivalent of seven hundred one-pound weights."
  • Share the Male Pain: The innuendo-laden stinkhorn video features various stinkhorn mushrooms, including many shaped like penises. The narrator goes, "Oof" and apologizes after footage shows one stinkhorn snapping.
  • Shown Their Work: The facts, for most parts, are accurate, except when they're overruled by the Rule of Funny.
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: Frequently, perhaps most notably when talking about octopus reproduction:
    Narrator: "When her job is done, she is gone, but thousands of little bebbies emerge. Floating. Just beautiful. Sort of like the ending of Charlotte's Web, except under water. And without the farm animals too, they would, they would all drown. They'd die; the dancing pig wouldn't last a second really, it'd be, uh, babies interspersed with these dead and rotting animals being eaten by fish, it's, it's a different story really, less appropriate for children and I—the duck would do OK, but... one floating duck does not a children's book make. Just remember, if you're writing a children's book, one animal can die, not all of them. Only a clam would write that sort of crap, and they're dumb as hell."
  • Solid Gold Poop: "True Facts: Ant Mutualism" has a lot of insect secretions being quite valuable to ants, acting as nutritious meals to share with the colony.
    Narrator: "There's just a lot of secretion. I feel a bit insecure about the value of my own secretions. Certainly nothing to write home about."
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Ze Frank can go from a scientific description of cavitation bubbles to summing it up as "Mortal Kombat finishing move shit" within the same sentence.
  • Spoof Aesop: A common way of ending the videos:
    (from "True Facts about the Owl) "Just remember, don't do drugs, because an owl may just rip your face off."
    (from True Facts about the Sea Pig) "Remember, if someone scares you, just bend over and fart your lungs all over that bastard."
    (from True Facts about the Tarsier) "Remember, always eat your vegetables, or you'll look like a freaky, freaky little tarsier."
  • Sound Effects Bleep: Curse words are often bleeped out, but sometimes Jerry will bleep out words that only sound dirty (see Censored for Comedy above).
    • "Wild Pigs" ends with Jerry spamming the bleep randomly due to his feelings being hurt.
  • Stock Footage: Ze Frank obviously uses stock footage for the videos, but he notably also lampshades how strange some stock footage is.
    Narrator: "This is stock footage of a sea cucumber. It has been downloaded one times. By me."
  • Tastes Like Chicken: "True Facts About the Hedgehog" shows that a hedgehog's diet has Angel Tears in it, which taste like chicken... tears.
  • Toilet Humor: There's a lot of talk about how animals urinate and defecate.
  • Verbal Tic: In addition to What the Hell Is That Accent? below, the Narrator has a few odd speaking habits. For example, he always says adverbs twice in a row, a la describing something as "fleshy fleshy" or "swoopy swoopy."
  • Violation of Common Sense: Sometimes when they get a bit more nonsensical than usual. For example, from "True Facts About the Hedgehog":
    Narrator: "The nation of France was named after a hedgehog. That hedgehog was named Kevin. Don't ask."
  • Vocal Evolution: The voice used has gotten gradually higher pitched and less Morgan-Freeman like as time has gone on. This is best observed by watching something like the anglerfish video and the nudibranch video back to back.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: The cuttlefish can change color to match its background perfectly even in complete darkness... which is amazing but useless.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Ze Frank speaks in an odd but perfectly normal voice except for certain words which he consistently pronounces oddly.
    • Babies is "behbehs."
    • Bird is "byuuurd."
    • Ocean is "oh-see-un."
    • Pregnant becomes "puh-reeeeg-nunt" in an extreme Southern drawl.
    • Dew is "deeuwr."
    • Glue is "gleewrr."
    • Smooth is "smyoothe."
    • In "The Crazy Defenses of Butterflies and Moths", "moths" is pronounced "moth-ess" (the singular is pronounced normally).
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: On describing the armadillo's armor:
    Narrator: "... the armadillo has plates of dermal bone on its back, covered with horn and leathery skin. Imagine having a bunch of horny bones on your back, constantly rubbing togeth—I can't read this. I mean, I understand it's technically right..."
  • Your Mom: In the "Animal Awards" video, Jerry provides the additional category of "Your Mom". The exasperated narrator chastises Jerry before joking that, while not a category, your mom had plenty of entries.

That is how a troper do.

Alternative Title(s): Ze Frank