Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Comic 514: Relatively Funny

one panel joy
This has been an interesting comic for me to watch other people's reactions. Like many people, I did not get that it was about relativity at first (at least the forums are good for explaining jokes like this...) and of course, not getting it I thought it was incredibly stupid. But then I saw what the point was and thought "ok, that's a joke that is not going to appeal to that many people...but it's not bad."

And it's really pretty ok, once you see what's going on. But it's a pretty veiled reference. A very physics-y friend of mine just looked confused when he read it.

The thing is, I've seen a whole bunch of people laugh really hard at this, and then when I ask them what they think the joke is (i'm a pretty annoying friend) they can't really describe it. But they know it has to be funny! It's xkcd and there's sex! Try it on your friends and see what they say.

This is what we are up against, people: xkcd has such a reputation for Laffs And Giggles that people will laugh and think it's amazing even if they have no clue what it's talking about and totally miss what the author is intending.

I thought some variation on the phrase "Come On, Randall" might be a very clever title for this post but decided against it. Didn't want it to disappear entirely though, so here it is.

On a related note, the super intense arguing going on for comic 513 has somewhat overwhelmed me, and I do apologize again for not being able to respond to all the comments. It happens to be a busy week. In any case, I decided that I could use a short break from the blogging, for mostly creative artistic (ha!) reasons so starting next Monday (probably) we are going to have a guest contributor. It's...frequent commentor Rob! woo hoo! So you'll have to start paying attention to that line on the bottom of the posts where it says who wrote it. Or I could tell him to publish in a different font. Or something. Whatever. The plan is for this to last one or two weeks, and I will still be around commenting and maybe posting if needed.

Let's give a BIG XKCDSUCKS WELCOME to rob, everyone.


  1. 1) This one's about 515, not 514.

    2) Carl, you're famous on the fora (well, at least they know you exist).

    3) If someone tries to recreate this xkcd comic like several others were, can xkcd be convicted of conspiracy to commit murder :o

  2. 514: Meh, it was okay. If they were going to make a relativity joke, maybe they should have somehow referrenced relativity? After thinking about it for a second I sort of figured that was where he was coming from, but by then it was really too late for me to get that initial reaction.

    515: I chuckled a little. It wasn't like THE FUNNIEST THING I'VE EVER SEEN EVAR, and anyone could see the punchline a mile away, but it was cute.

  3. Anonymous Guy: Now that I've posted it, you can see that in fact it was about 514. 515 I probably won't write about till just before 516 goes up. Such is my procrastination.

    Oh man I saw that comment on the thread for 515! It was way at the top, too! Wish he had included a link but still made me feel very good.

    Sweetie_Pumpkin, first off, you get like a million awesome points for making that your name. Anyway I think that's a reasonable reaction to the comic. Basically what I felt, though I imagine that had I gotten it at first it would have been decent.

    515 I am still a little conflicted on. I have a day or two to think about it.

  4. Okay, listen, Carl. I know this isn't the greatest xkcd EVAR but still, FINALLY we see hat guy (again) IN action instead of TALKING about his actions. At least that, right? RIGHT?!

    Oh guys*, how low did we get, HOW?

    * guys is a qwantz thing, right?

  5. Carl, I know there was some uncommon respect bestowed to 513. I (and others here) thought it was pretty insightful and showed a real sense of irony/reflection that went beyond "lol dick joke." It was a good comic.

    But 514 and 515...could you please tear the shit out of these? Even if 514 is about relativity, it's too veiled to avoid what you witnessed (people giggling over the subject matter alone). And even if the comic made its science reference better known, it's about sex, not revolving bodies (TEE HEE).

    515 starts with one foot in the unfunny grave and buries itself with the alt text. It and 514 are all the worse considering that 513 proved Randall can still crank out a winner when he puts some thought into it.

  6. It's about relativity? Ohhhhh.

    To be honest, I was just laughing at the phrase, "Mmm, simultaneous orgasms."

  7. I am not understanding the first comment by "that Anonymous Guy." And "Sweetie_Pumpkin" made me laugh really hard.

    ANYWAY this comic made me feel at first that Randall was like, OH HAI YOU GUYS GUESS WUT I CAN HAS SEX TOO.

    And after a while I got the relativity bit... and after I realized /that/, I realized he made the comic into a link to the Wiki entry. What better way to say, Hey I'm referencing something that maybe only a handful of you will pick up! My, aren't we so special? Here is a link for the rest of you so that you can figure out why my joke is funny!

    And this is coming from someone who /did/ understand the joke. I was amused, but this doesn't make me like the semi-obscure references, former niche comic or not.

    WELCOME Rob! I am glad that you do not call yourself Bob. And congrats to Carl for being famous, xkcd-wise. =)

  8. I was vaguely unnerved by the phrase "mmm, simultaneous orgasms."
    I kind of figured it was just a joke about... possibly the fact that the girl is totally bored by their sex and so she doesn't move and he's all excited. Like that scene in Secretary. Creepy.

  9. Cow - you are talking about 515. I will note that when I write my review. Though keep this in mind: You don't see his actions, you see him with the results of his actions (a dead body). But this is for later. I don't know what you mean about guys being a qwantz thing.

    I assume my tearing of 514 was not sufficient for you. Oh well. I didn't have too much energy this time. For 515 I will see. What in particular annoyed you about it? Not that nothing about it annoyed me, I'm just curious.

    Double blackbird: part of me worries that Rob is going to post a comment saying "Guys I have it on good authority that Randall actually says this when he has sex with people."

    Amanda - but can't you tell how ACCURATE this comic is? This is how couples act? Did you notice how it is rather silly for the man to point out the simultaneousness because presumably the woman notices it when it happened?

    I hadn't noticed the wikipedia link - I wonder when he added that. It's never a good sign when he has to go through and go "GUYS, THIS IS WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT." He did this with comic 442 and Comic 472. At least here he didn't put up a note saying "TODAY'S COMIC REFERS TO RELATIVITY" like he did with that pancake thing.

    i had some great pancakes yesterday

  10. Man, I could go for some damn pancakes.

  11. Dammit. That was great! Honestly, it's one of Einstein's most famous gedankenexperiments about relativity. You see, when one body reverses acceleration, it provides a reference frame and... I see. You don't care... well, get off my lawn anyway.

    So maybe I'm weird, in that "simultaneity" makes me think of physics pretty quickly (really, guys, it's kind of a big deal). Or it makes me think of distributed computing. But from my perspective, this is an admirable return to form.

    To hell with the general audience anyway. What have they ever done for me?

  12. Carl, I'm sorry :( There was no topic for 515 and I couldn't resist :(

  13. Pat: humanities and social science majors need loving too. :(

    Carl: Ahahaha. Oh man, I bet he does.

  14. So your biggest issue with the comic is that your friends don't get it, but expect it to be funny (because it's xkcd, reputation and all that) so they laugh anyway? That's a problem with the people reading it, not the comic.

    Yes, it's a little obscure for those without a degree in physics, but it's written by a guy with a degree in physics and is, itself, a comic that regularly dabbles in physics. I'd be surprised to find any niche comic with 500+ entries where all that many people get every single reference and joke made. I honestly don't see the problem, but I also didn't understand how you could so fully miss the point of comic 513, either.

  15. 22- Yeah, I have a problem with that. A big part of my point with this blog is that xkcd is not always terrible, but it is always overrated (hence "xkcd:overrated"). I don't think it deserves the audience it currently has, and I think this comic helps to prove that. I think that's reasonable.

    xkcd may claim to be a comic about "math science romance and sarcasm" or whatever it is, and it may have started that way, but it's not anymore. It's a general nerd webcomic, and it's starting to have some continuity also. You can't just dismiss the ones that few people get as "oh well it's a physics comic, you wouldn't get it." How many of the last 100 comics have been about physics?