Thursday, May 27, 2010

Comic 745: Untied We Stand

Dyslexicon
I'm going to do that thing I do - that thing some cuddlefish insist I never do - and say I liked this comic. I liked it because I read it and it made no sense, and then I read it again and it made perfect sense. My brain just had to figure it out, and that process was satisfying in a way that produced humor.

That said, it's not perfect - for one thing, there's a basic SAT subject/verb agreement problem (either "the support group ran into X when IT tried Y" or "the members of the group ran into problems when THEY"). A bigger issue is that the phrase "tried to make a joke fundraiser t-shirt" isn't all that clear. Of course, you know what it means eventually, but I think there's a simpler, more direct way to write it. I think it has to do with the idea that my brain can't really grasp "joke" as an adjective. I know some people use it that way, but it always sounds weird to me. I think "funny" or "humorous" or in this case even "novelty" would work better.

Also, cut out the word "fundraiser." Why should we care why they made the shirt? All we care about is that they made it wrong in a funny way.

Put that together and you have "The dyslexic support group ran into difficulties when the members tried to print funny group t-shirts." Or something. Still not perfect but I think it's better. Anyone else want to take a stab at it?

All in all, though, even though most of my post is criticism, it's still a good joke that wasn't as botched as most. It's still a good example of why an editor - or at least a second draft! - would help xkcd a lot.

That said, the comic's still not as funny as this.

77 comments:

  1. This one was pretty terrible. The 'aha' moment doesn't equate to funny, so much as a way to rehash an old joke. And the delivery on the caption sucked a lot. THAT said, you are incorrect about the grammar. According to American style, you are correct. According to Commonwealth style you are just wrong. While it's likely Randall just fucked up the American style, I actually prefer Commonwealth style in most cases, so I found it pleasing (and more sense-making).

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  2. I think I would've liked the absurdity in 746 if it weren't for the slow delivery.

    If you're going to slowly deliver absurdity you need to end with an "a-ha!" moment where everything makes sense. Basically, the idea is to emphasize how absurd it is so that we're shocked by the reasonableness of it all.

    If the ending isn't reasonable, it's better to just get to the point. Don't give us time to scratch our heads. Cut out one of the middle panels (I say keep the third one since it can look like he's backing away if the two lines on the right are his arms) and just have the doc say, "Oh God! He's got a gun!"

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  3. "I think I would've liked the absurdity in 746 if it weren't for the slow delivery."

    Haha, DELIVERY.

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  4. YOU ARE WRONG CARL

    also my PS book arrived, hooray

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  5. oh god MEGAN

    Didn't like the latest one at all.

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  6. Latest XKCD didn't really inspire much in me other than a link to this Penny Arcade.

    IDK, I mean, "can you pull?" might sort of be funny. Maybe?

    Alternately: This one.

    Not saying that XKCD rips these off, this time, just that they made me think of these PAs. Free association.

    ====

    I'd be interested in getting some more concrete information to support the "XKCD is the most popular/successful webcomic ever". Aside from its use in glorious ad populam arguments, it would be interesting to know how you would measure such a thing. Can it truly compare to the gloriousness of Child's Play?

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  7. Yeah, speaking of delivery.... oh christ, megan :(

    But the better re-write would have to improve in only one way - his timing. Honestly, grammatical quibbles aside, even if the joke really isn't that funny, the comic medium is very forgiving of that sort of thing (see as lowest common denominator something like Blondie). I think Randall could really shine with comics like these if he just had somebody read his shit aloud before he posted it. At its top level, a good comic, when read aloud, is good verbal comedy. XKCD already revels in the unimportance of the visual gag (shtick figures) and i think, in its better days, XKCD played to that strength. Maybe there's a friend he alienated that used to give him the right feedback? Does anyone know his story? Because I know he cares about he comic, but we're really begging for scraps if we're tagging these with Comics I Liked.

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  8. 746 only served to remind me of the indescribably funny and infinitely superior Onion classic from ten whole years ago, "Nation shocked by Pre-Natal Shooting." (Can't paste a link for some reason, but you should google it.)

    The strip's badness is also highlighted in comparison to the South Park episode in which Oprah's vajayjay and a-hole get a gun and hold her hostage.

    Finally, I have never given birth or been in the room when someone else has, so as far as I know, obstetricians always call their patients by their first names. But in this case, the familiarity makes it seem like the deliverer is Mr. Standard XKCD who is delivering his own child, which is creepy.

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  9. "The group ran into problems when they" is actually a correct grammatical construction. It's called synesis. And example is "The band are not quite right". It's more popular in england, but it's still correct in both versions of English.

    Have you been reduced on criticizing a man's grammar, when it's totally understandable what he meant? And this instance doesn't even sound unusual to Americans. It doesn't distract at all.

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  10. The latest one feels like a sketch that ended up on the cutting room floor. With gross-out comedy.

    It just doesn't work for me in the XKCD format.

    Does Randall have any friends? I kind of want to take him out drinking and introduce him to a girl with a name other than Megan.

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  11. dyslexia jokes are extremely stale, and have been since freshman year of high school. I'm surprised you enjoyed this one carl, because if you ask me it was one of worst comics of the month.

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  12. Good god, it's has a joke about giving birth, abortion, and MEGAN. Randall has to be doing this on purpose.

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  13. Actually, it's also about video games (see alt text) and seriously, ehm... "quirky" sex life (how do you suppose the gun got in there, eh?). Definitely on purpose.

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  14. Blech, the new one...

    Loved the "spawn camping" Penny Arcade you linked to though, Nathan. It is also far superior to the speedrun strip with its reference to spawn points in the alt-text.

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  15. First I hated 476, after reading it. I thought "Damn, he outdid himself in writing unfunny comics".
    But the alt text explained everything and made it fairly funny after all. That makes a great joke for me, something unexpected, mocking with certain real life issues.

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  16. Oh, Megan can pull alright. She does it so well that when she pulls someone he'll never get over her.

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  17. Goddamnit Carl, if you have to figure out a joke then it means it's BAD!
    You keep doing that too. You keep thinking that a joke is better if it requires additional thinking to figure out. As opposed to thinking it's the most blatant form of pandering!



    Also, I don't think I ever saw an actual stick-up in a GTA game.
    Also also, I refuse to accept that "she played too much GTA" was the joke, since that was in the alt-text. Which, by definition, should not be where the punch-line goes!

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  18. http://bayimg.com/image/mandlaacb.jpg

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  19. Bravo, 4:13 nonny. Bravo.

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  20. 746: awful, no surprise there. But the first paragraph of xkcdexplained.com for it seriously cracked me up.

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  21. 746:
    WHAT THE FUCK
    You know, whenever Randy writes a particularly awful or rushed comic, people call him on it and say he probably whipped it up five minutes before posting (and it shows; you can see where he thought "aha this could be funny" and immediately sketched a setup for the joke).
    I think what happened was Randy here had a nightmare and turned it into a comic.

    I'm too sleepy right now to make a proper rant about this comic, but god damn if it isn't massively creepy and unsettling.

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  22. These comments about 746 - which sucked harder than a black hole on steroids, BTW - are all very well. But isnt this thread supposed to be about 745?

    Which actually *was* funny, in the late 1970s, but which has sadly kind of lost something in the intervening decades.

    I sincerely hope that Randall has the common decency to have a minutes *care about it* in the middle of his next money-counting session.

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  23. On Wednesday I thought: "Wow, this one was really lame. One of the worst. For once I will agree whole-heartedly with Carl".

    On Thursday I thought: "No, wait a minute, maybe Carl will like this one, since it's so lame. I bet he will."

    Carl, you suffer from a predictably bad sense of humor. ;) (I'm not complaining about the fact that you usually don't like xkcd. That's just different taste, not necessarily bad taste, but you could pick the ones you like a bit more carefully.)

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  24. This is the comic you've chosen to give your blessing to? Really? I mean, yes, it does make "sense" in a twisted kind of way (dyslexia doesn't actually work that way, but whatever), but it wasn't funny. Not even a little bit. Comic 746 on the other hand got at least a small chuckle out of me just for the sheer stupid audacity of it, even though it didn't make sense at all. If you believe that the proper response to humor is to grade it based on how much logical sense it makes...well, that would explain quite a bit about this blog actually.

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  25. I understood it upon first reading.

    It's fucking terrible. Sorry, Carl, going to have to disagree with you on this one.

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  26. NotAGoddamn"Cuddlefish"May 28, 2010 at 6:52 AM

    Despite liking the comic, Carl still struggles to find *some* kind of fault with it. What kind of xkcdsucks post would it be if he liked it?

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  27. The latest comic is horrible.

    "Aaaaaaaargh," I thought as I read it, "this is awful!"

    The latest Dino Comics is rubbish too though. It's just been inane babbling lately. And Ryan has ADMITTED he just writes them on the day he puts them up, so no wonder.

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  28. I agree with Jimmy. I normally like Dinosaur Comics, but the newest one was just nonsense.

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  29. xkcd has been on a roll lately. after weeks of shit, 742 was good, 743 was a bad comic but the autistics line was funny, 744 was good, 745 was good. 746 is FUCKING AWFUL! It makes no sense and is not funny in anyway shape or form. It has not joke, and it has no point. No redeeming value.

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  30. Also, the guy's mask strap disappears in the third panel. Way to fuck up stick figures again.

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  31. I'm an OB-GYN, and just the other day I was thinking "It's a good thing none of the babies I deliver have guns." GOOMH Randall!

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  32. Of all the XKCD comics you could've professed to like, you chose this one? This is almost certainly the stalest comic Randall has ever made.

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  33. Why does the doctor call her by her first name?

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  34. So you know it's Megan

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  35. "Also, cut out the word "fundraiser." Why should we care why they made the shirt? All we care about is that they made it wrong in a funny way."

    I'm confused, usually you say to add context to the comics, but here you're saying you don't want context? I'm just unsure of which you want, or if you draw some big difference between the two.

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  36. @Timofei: even though your edit would be FAR more creepy if Randall had wrote that himself, it would be a lot funnier!

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  37. omega: Every once in a while that makes sense, for example, to know why a character acted in a certain way. But in this case it's a joke where we have all the context we need. It's a group of dyslexics who make group shirts. That's all. Adding more context doesn't help.

    Also, Ryan North generally makes comics daily, but that's because his comic UPDATES daily. He has also said he works out the details of them for 2-3 hours, so it's not like "ARGH HE WRITES IT THE DAY OF" is this damning discovery.

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  38. The latest Dinosaur Comics is indeed stupid, but at least it was nothing but a mockery of yesterday's comic, which was funny. Still, it looks like the result of severe writer's block.

    Today's xkcd, though? It looks like the result of severe brain diarrhoea!

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  39. The latest one is absolute shit.

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  40. Why do you insist on pointing out minor grammatical mistakes? You wouldn't do that to any other comic than XKCD. You just criticize XKCD to self-satisfy and we all know it.

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  41. Alright this one is horrible, but to the people wondering why the doctor calls her by name, it is because that is what doctors do. It isn't like you just go to the hospital after 9 months and a random doctor delivers your baby; during the regular pregnancy checkups they try to make sure the mom has met each doctor at least a few times. For something as big and emotional as childbirth, that personal connection really helps.

    Of course, Randal has no experience of this and the comic was stupid. He just wanted to make sure Megan is aware that he still thinks of her and that through his internet stalking he has found out that she has not only moved on and gotten married but is also pregnant. Her husband is a "jerk" who enjoys violent video games instead of thinking games like Go and D&D (but not fourth edition because that is for noobs) and this will have a negative effect on their child's personality.

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  42. "Why do you insist on pointing out minor grammatical mistakes? You wouldn't do that to any other comic than XKCD. You just criticize XKCD to self-satisfy and we all know it."

    "A webcomic of romance,
    sarcasm, math, and language."

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  43. "Why do you insist on pointing out minor grammatical mistakes? You wouldn't do that to any other comic than XKCD. You just criticize XKCD to self-satisfy and we all know it."

    actually yes I would, because they are remarkably easy to correct, and most comics I read avoid them.

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  44. I actually laughed when I read "Oh, God! Stop pushing, MEGAN!"
    It's so obviously unnecessary that he put in a name there, it just seems like he wanted to put in the name "Megan" on purpose, as a tongue-in-cheek gesture to all the people who make fun of him using that name for all his sexkcd comics... maybe I'm overanalyzing it, but I thought it was cool.

    The rest of the comic was very bad.

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  45. That was the best in weeks.

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  46. "Her husband is a "jerk" who enjoys violent video games instead of thinking games like Go and D&D (but not fourth edition because that is for noobs)"

    And Katamari Damacy, of course.

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  47. Want an even creepier reading of this comic? I'm pretty sure that Randall's implied to be the one who knocked her up.

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  48. Uh... Jon... pretty sure it was Megan who was playing GTA. Considering there's no husband there, it's more likely that she fell pregnant to somebody who didn't care enough to stick around.

    I think it's supposed to be the continuation, or maybe the commencement, or maybe the just-commenced-but-other-stuff-retroactively-made-to-fit-in of some sort of Megan saga, whatever that may be.

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  49. no David - he has said that megan (as well as rob apparently) are his inside joke names. He is very well doing it on purpose.

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  50. wow xkcdexplained totally ripped on Randall. I love it when they tear him apart with feminism.

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  51. http://www.isitfunnytoday.com/

    Wow, why is xkcd nowhere here?

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  52. This comic reminds me a lot of SMBC one-panel formula, but I still don't find it funny, because it's just too obvious.

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  53. 6:04 Anonymous: XKCD's "birth" strip was number 40 out of about 42. Whoops.

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  54. today's goatkcd

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  55. So on this one you said "Why should we care why they made the shirt?", and on the next one you complain that "if there is one thing xkcd is not good at, it's telling you the context for its little stories...WHY WOULD THIS HAPPEN?". Hm.

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  56. I'd take you so much more seriously if your complaints about grammar were actually valid.

    Singular they is widely accepted. If you can't, as a native speaker, parse a singular they, I am sorry for your shortcomings.

    Also, joke isn't being used as an adjective, but as part of a noun phrase of the sort "joke gift", which extends to "A gift which is a joke". Note the article which proceeds the word joke. Adjectives are not proceeded by articles.

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  57. The Ranter: There's a difference between relevant and irrelevant context. What if he said that it was the Southern Europe Dyslexics Society? That doesn't change the joke; there is nothing about people from southern europe that makes this joke any different. On the baby-with-a-gun-joke, I'm not demanding context, but I am saying that some relevant details might help make the joke better.

    Anon: Singular "They" as used here, is very, very wrong in America (i know this is not true in Britain, or at least, not as true). Would you say "The dyslexic woman ran into trouble when they made a shirt..."? No, you would say "the dyslexic person ran into trouble when SHE made a shirt..."

    they is sometimes ok if you want to be ambiguous about gender - "the mysterious person in the alley said they would tell me a secret" but that's not the point here. "The group" is singular, so "the group IS doing X" is right and "the group ARE doing X" is wrong.

    SORRY

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  58. Carl:

    No, I wouldn't suggest that a gender-determinate subject (she) be replaced by the epicene they. However, I would suggest wholeheartedly that a gender-indeterminate subject, even if singular, ought to be replaced by that they.

    I wouldn't say the dyslexic woman...when they made a shirt.

    However, I also wouldn't say, as a refusal to accept the epicene they requires, every dyslexic...when he made a shirt.

    So, very nice attempt at shrewdness by completing ignoring whether the subject was gender-determinate or not.

    Which would you say, sir?

    1.) When I tell someone a joke, they laugh.

    OR

    2.) When I tell someone a joke, he/she laughs.

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  59. Here's an irony: this discussion about "they" has already taken place in XKCD.

    http://xkcd.com/145/

    Captcha: "cater", as in what XKCD does to the masses of geeks and nerds on the interwebz.

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  60. That is not ironic at all and I hate you.

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  61. Anon: I'd say "when I tell someone a joke, he laughs" as long as the person is not specified. Call me old fashioned but I think that's fine. "The reader, if he is careful, will note..." seems best to me as well.

    But that's not relevant; the discussion here is whether a single group should be treated as a plural, and there's no reason it should. Let's try a new example: "The Dyslexic support group eats pizza at their meetings" or "the D. S. G. eat pizza at their meetings." Pick one.

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  62. The second one you fat piece of shit.

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  63. I HATE YOU SCOTT AND I ALWAYS HAVE

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  64. I think that "when I tell someone a joke, he laughs" sounds terrible. Also, really. Basing all of your grammar off of "SAT rules." What a great basis for life. It almost sounds like you think the SAT means something!

    I mean hell, you're right. Everyone should follow SAT grammar. Have you ever read a work of literature? Ever? And when you do, do you criticize it because "it doesn't follow SAT grammar?"

    No, I'm not trying to say that xkcd is synonymous with good literature. What I am trying to say, however, is that your problem with the xkcd grammar is bullshit.

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  65. well what do you suggest? "They" is wrong because it's a plural, "he/she" or some variant is just annoying and in any case a wholly modern PC invention.

    you have to know the rules to break the rules effectively, that's the difference between good writing and xkcd.

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  66. There is a difference between good writing and xkcd. However, using a commonly accepted grammatical construction (namely, "they") isn't really wrong.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they suggests that while Munroe's usage of they is not technically correct, it is widely used and accepted among most people.

    I think even you should admit that you are being nitpicky here.

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  67. "widely accepted" =/= true. for example: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/11/22/opinion/polls/main657083.shtml

    isn't this whole website being nitpicky?

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  68. Yes, but for something that is completely based off of usage (ie, language), it is true. I mean, if everyone believes that the word "water" means what we think of as "paper," then it would be very reasonable to say that a proper usage of water would be to have it mean paper. This is really the whole concept of colloquialism, anyways.

    And yeah it is nitpicky, but there are often much larger flaws in comics that you don't point out in favor of small, meaningless ones. It's not that I blindly love xkcd or anything, but at the same time I believe that you could have much stronger arguments.

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  69. congratulations on coming to the position that prescriptivists are dumbasses via the long way. have a seat, help yourself to the beer in the fridge

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  70. Now would be an great time for a joke involving prescriptivists and the pronoun combination "any...he."

    Anybody?

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  71. Comic 745: I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that this is basically a riff on a Far Side strip, where a group of people were walking down the street carrying a banner that said "Dyslexics of the World Untie" He even makes a similar joke in the floating text.

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  72. that's an old joke. If Far Side made it up, I'm impressed. I believe it; I've seen plenty of other t-shirt-jokes stolen from good sources.

    But to be fair, while he is basing this comic on the "dyslexics of the world untie" joke, he's making a new joke on top of it. If that phrase weren't common knowledge, he couldn't make the joke that they were trying to spell that and kept getting it accidentally right.

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