Sunday, September 19, 2010

Comic 794: Not Funny Then, Not Funny Now

and that's only for the very best hams

[Alt: I've looked through a few annotated versions of classic books, and it's shocking how much of what's in there is basically pop-culture references totally lost on us now.]

I think this comic has been pretty well destroyed by all you folks in the comments for the previous thread, so I think I can just summarize all the reasons this is terrible -

1) For one thing, the comic isn't exactly pointing out anything new. No, there is no reason to think that. But no one was claiming it, were they? I think if you had asked any of us about this a few days ago, we all would have been perfectly happy to agree that people at all times have had their jokes which make little sense to us now.

2) It's unclear what the inside joke is supposed to be. There's laughter surrounding all the characters, making it seem like each line is supposed to be funny. But the first line makes perfect, non-funny sense on its own: a man is upset about the price of a ham. It's the second one that is intentionally confusing, yet the "ha ha ha"s surround each line, almost like the canned laughter in a sitcom when a character says a boring line, but one is meant to laugh in anticipation of a joke to follow.

3) Regarding the alt-text, where Randall Munroe says he's recently read looked through some "classic" books recently. Are we supposed to be impressed by this? As many people point out, the Shakespeare that nearly everyone reads in high school has lots of annotations explaining the various in jokes (for example, a lot of shakespeare gets noticeably funnier when you learn that "Will" is often supposed to mean "dick"). It also seems like he may be referring to "The Annotated Alice," which is the version of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass that has annotations by the late great Martin Gardner. It's mostly explanations of what the various jokes are in the book.

My point is, none of this is news to the majority of readers. This stunning anthropological discover that Randall has made is made even more comic by the fact that he so, so often insults those people who study history and literature. It's like on the one hand he tells people, "Psh! Literature studies? That's such a fake field. You don't do any real work in that field. you are so worthless. Try studying something important, like science" and then two days later he goes, "woah! if you read these old books more carefully, they're actually way more interesting! Why didn't anyone tell me this??!" And then the lit people smack their heads, again.



  2. >"woah! if you read these old books more carefully, they're actually way more interesting! Why didn't anyone tell me this??!"

    More like, "woah! if you read these old books more carefully, they're actually way more interesting! Why didn't anyone know this??! There's no reason not to think it! I better tell the internet!"

    Also likely followed by an "attaboy, Randall" and a self-pat on the back.

  3. I guess it's not legal to euthanize Munroe. The dude is on fumes, swirling the drain, terrified to move on. His world of 23-year-old fanboyz and fangirlz isn't sustainable.

  4. That cartoon-off really made me want to shoot him.

    Fuck. It was so bad.

  5. Yeah, total agreement pretty much, but I think 7:57 put it a little better.

    So are you going to add more posts to the "liberal arts suck, don't they" tag? I hope you do. In the thread for the last post here, I posted the numbers of some comics that fit that tag, but I didn't feel like going back through the blog and putting links to each individual blog post for those comics.

  6. Whenever Randall touches anything unrelated to his two-bit science degree, he fails miserably.

  7. New comic (way to update half an hour late randy) doesn't suck too bad. We get the shitty awkward dialogue that we know and love, but at least the punchline comes at the end of the comic, and is a little amusing. Plus, the art is OK.

  8. To be fair, Katz's graph comic was shitty, too! I liked his string theory one, though.

    Honestly I don't read the New Yorker for the cartoons. It's still a solid publication, though.

    Captcha:Inablogg. I am, indeed, posting in a blog.

  9. I would've preferred the new comic without the caption. In fact, at first I didn't notice the caption, and sat there satisfied at the stick guys stupidity and the almost-subtle joke. Then I read the caption, which basically explains the joke, and I stopped being satisfied.
    Also, yeah the dialogue is a bit awkward. Fix it, and remove the caption, and, why, I may have outright giggled.

  10. Also, an unnecessary reference to high school. What makes high schoolers unique in having inside jokes?

    I feel like pandering to high schoolers ALSO deserves a category.

  11. "about stick figures who [...] have lots of sex."

    At least he's honest.

  12. I agree with ScottMcTony, this comic would be better without the caption.

    I think there should've been no caption, and the current caption should've been the alt text.

  13. UndercoverCuddlefishSeptember 19, 2010 at 10:37 PM

    @anon9:35 that category would be too broad and basically every post would need to be tagged

  14. People who don't know Bayesian probabilities make bad decisions. This is the joke. Pfft.

  15. take away all the text in friday's comic and it basically looks as though osama bin laden is stopping by khalid sheikh mohammed's falafel stand for some morning chatter.

  16. did anyone read the forums on this comic? it's currently 3 pages of "gee Randall, you suck" with some good music suggestions mixed in. It's a nice change from the usual GOOMHR. The fanboys are turning on him.

  17. Hahaha, from the XKCD forums in 794.
    " [Referring to a criticism] I can't stand people who post like this. This guy has posted exactly 5 times on this forum and all 5 of them are condescending criticisms of certain comics. I'm sorry, but is the only reason you made an account here so that you can rip on someone elses hard work? Look, if you honestly have an issue with a comic, you've got every right to not enjoy a particular comic. But, blatantly ripping on someone who clearly has a good thing going and who many people enjoy is just pointless, if you've got no other purpose.

    Gamer_2k4, if you think you're so much funnier, (and you're not, based on your posts so far) then feel free to make your own webcomic, and when "Gamer_2k4's comic of awesomeness" is the worlds greatest webcomic, I'll formally apologize. But, until then I think Randall can be forgiven if he chooses to ignore the ranting of an individual poster on his forums.

    So, if you don't have anything positive to add to this discussion, (and there's nothing positive in any of your posts; you can't even call them constructive criticsm, you're just bashing him) then please, feel free not to post.


    I love this guy! He could stand a visit to this blog, on so many counts, but I'd just like to point out a few things...

    1. "I'm sorry, but is the only reason you made an account here so that you can rip on someone elses hard work?"
    Ahahaha, hard work... Right. And yes, that is probably the only reason he made an account there, what's it to him?

    2. "But, blatantly ripping on someone who clearly has a good thing going and who many people enjoy is just pointless, if you've got no other purpose."
    I hate it when people choose to hail someone simply because they have a "good thing going." He makes it almost sound like Randall is, *gasp*, scamming us! Also, ripping on stuff that many people enjoy with legitimate reasons, or even without, has very distinguishable points. Not the least being for fun.

  18. Yeah, Retsam's whinging on Randall's behalf sounds rather empty. I do hard work for a living myself. Shitty menial labour. And you know what? There is always some bastard at my back berating me and telling me to do a better job and asking me to pick up my game. He also determines whether I retain the job, so I put up with it and even keep my ear open for areas in which I really do need to improve my efforts.

    There's no reason why Randall's "hard work" should be entirely free of this aspect of the real world.

  19. I think that if it becomes the norm for every comic to be torn to shreds by the previous comic's comment section, then this blog will have finally achieved its purpose.

    As for 795, I read a bunch of old xkcds - it reminds me of those. And I'm looking at the old ones like any other jaded man seeing a fad he thought was the shit in high school and wondering what the hell he was thinking.

    capcha: mencinv - someone taking a medication to help with a small lesion in his broca's area trying to tell us what he's doing

  20. Look at that counter! Look at that mothereffing counter! It... it makes no sense whatsoever! Who would make a counter that horrible?!

    And their hair! He drew everyone with really badly kept hair and scruffy beards! In a comic where everyone is normally bald or has long straight hair!
    About the same sort of culture he previously implied couldn't count past two!

    And he's only now found out that people in said culture were capable of making culture references and in-jokes!


  21. Fuck this comic, it's bullshit. Let's go back to:

    I don't know who that Katz fellow is, buy boy, did he suck.

    1. Internet:
    Katz - Venn fucking diagram, and completely unimaginative at that. Bad stuff||Good stuff. Do you like me now, Randall?
    RP McMunroe - What?

    2. String Theory:
    Katz - My God, the oldest and most juvenile joke about shit you don't understand. "Man, that Einstein dude was totally stoned when he wrote about relativity, right?" "That Homer dude must've been trippin' one night and wrote an epic poem and shit".
    Randall - Pretty decent, actually. Implies some esoteric knowledge, which is good.

    3. 1999
    Katz - ...
    Randall - ...

    4. eating
    Katz - eh... ok
    Randall - ...

    And the result of the duel was that both contestants ended up shooting themselves in the foot.

  22. New comic, as people have said, is pretty good. I think the caption is necessary to distinguish it from all the "seize the day! go forth and have an adventure!" comics.

    Alt-text is hilar.

  23. ya the new comic is good. even an asshole like myself would acknowledge such a thing

  24. No, it is not. It's simply a statement of the simple fact that each statistic considers certain variables and ignores* others.

    It's on par with a joke saying "Statistics show that one in 60000 people worldwide die from frostbite, so that also applies to the people on the equator XD amirite?"

  25. Thank you, Lumpy. holy shit are you guys that deprived of any comic with numbers in it that you think this new one is "good"?



  26. > "about stick figures who [...] have lots of sex."
    > At least he's honest.

    Not entirely:

    "It’s about three-fourths autobiographical."

    (unless the "three-fourths" refers to math, staple guns, and the Internet).

  27. No, the joke of the newest comic is "here are some stupid people, watch them be stupid".

    This is provably hilar.

  28. Oh hey, apparently I've made an enemy on the XKCD forums! That's fun. (Thanks TheMesosade for pointing it out.)

    Why are all my posts there hard criticism? Because I don't feel the need to post about comics that are merely mediocre, and I can't remember the last one worthy of complimenting.

    Actually, I wrote up a whole guest post for this comic (which I think addresses some points this one didn't), but I have yet to hear back from Carl. =/

  29. Regarding the 795 alt text: If someone is not American, they would not say 'Dude' before a sentence.

  30. From that New Yorker article:
    "Well, I draw XKCD, a webcomic about stick figures who do math, play with staple guns, mess around on the Internet, and have lots of sex. It’s about three-fourths autobiographical."

    I bet I can guess the fourth that isn't!

  31. Oh. Anon 7:01 beat me to it.

  32. I give the newest comic a passing grade of 7/10. Would recommend to diehard XKCD fans and perhaps casual readers.

    Art: Reasonable, in fact nearly flawless. Since it is a comic and not real life, the inversion of black to white, while simple, conveys everything it needs to. Dark, stormy, "probably wanna be inside," kind of weather.

    Joke: On a scale of deadpan to fits of uncontained laughter, this gets about a smile. Deliberately misunderstanding statistics in a witty, mostly original way.

    Style: Post punchline dialogue, of sorts. Could be better without caption, but actually does okay with it. Alt Text expands on misunderstood statistics, which is fine by me, as it didn't explain the joke thankfully.

  33. i award this comic the coveted and prestigious ranks of "doesn't suck" and "not actually a piece of shit, maybe next time"


  34. Apparently, Randall's answer to ignorance is... more ignorance!

    I would think that the sort of person who knows the statistics on deaths by lightning per year would also know the standard safe operating procedure around lightning: stay on the low ground, don't stand under tall things like trees, and don't hold up a golf club. I guess maybe the punchline is that only five of the six statistic-quoters know these basic principles?

    The problem is, it's a comic about how bad it is to be smug -- told in a smug fashion. You can practically hear the superiority in the guy's voice as he quotes the stats, and then the caption piles on an extra layer of "but he'll be dead soon, ha ha ha!" It's like some sort of recursive intellectual elitism.

    Also, I don't mind the white-on-black effect, but I like it better when he achieves it by actually drawing it instead of just looking up the "invert selection" option on mspaint.

  35. The entire xkcd site has been down for me since last night, yet others seem to have no problem viewing 795. I wonder if I'm being rewarded for something.

  36. @Plasma: Randall is not only racist, he is a nazi too.

    The newest comic is classic xkcd. I laughed.

  37. I like the art in this new comic. The lighting is really cool.

    But what's the problem with his Os? In the "BOOM" sound effect, none of them two Os close as they should. It must be deliberate, because he isn't using a font, but... what's the intended effect? It looks shoddy. Really. Just like how his stick figure's head still fails to connect with the body even when it's head is filled and it's incredibly small.

    Randall Munroe: failing in many different ways!



  38. This comic was okay. I chuckled.

  39. Mole, you're missing the point [as usual!]: Randall is trying to be cute by scrawling as if he were 13 or not an actual artist! You just aren't in the demographic, apparently.

    Also and but so [not my work or opinions throughout].

  40. There is a tall tree right there.

    Why didn't the lightning go for the tree?

    Why am I the first person to wonder this?

  41. "I would think that the sort of person who knows the statistics on deaths by lightning per year would also know the standard safe operating procedure around lightning"

    Well, who knows? I've known the kind of pseudo-intelligent people who only want to know the facts that are convenient to them ("Lightning doesn't kill that much, I'll be fine. What? I'm increasing my risks by staying outside? Oh, I see, EINSTEIN, gonna teach me how to live now?").

    Comic's good, guys, come on.

  42. Chaos: I have added the Liberal Arts tag to the posts you pointed out (though not all of them). thank you for being the ONLY PERSON to reply to my demand.

  43. I second Fernie. 1 in 6 seems high but it gets the point across. I thought it was sort of funny, but it would have been funnier if it let you realize the joke on your own rather than make it obvious in the caption (as someone already said.)

  44. To those who say the new xkcd would have been funnier without the caption because the caption spoils the joke; I figured out the joke long before I even got to the caption. Sort of went like this: ...Lightning only kills 45 people a year... => This guy is gonna fuck with lightning and get owned. JOKE SOLVED MOVING ON.

  45. ..yes, that's why people think the caption should go away.

  46. But what if someone doesn't get the joke?! If they're confused they won't buy t-shirts :(

    captcha: Shwoo. Shwoo, fly, don't bother me.

  47. " would think that the sort of person who knows the statistics on deaths by lightning per year would also know the standard safe operating procedure around lightning: stay on the low ground, don't stand under tall things like trees, and don't hold up a golf club. I guess maybe the punchline is that only five of the six statistic-quoters know these basic principles?"

    never underestimate peoples stupidity. i remeber reading about an anti smoking ad of someone holding up a glof club during a storm saying that they were at less risk then than they were if they smoked

  48. 7:01 and Gamer_2k4 - much as I'm reluctant to defend Randall, I'm preeeeetty sure that's the joke he was making when he said that?

  49. For one, I think the caption should stay. Yes, it's perfectly possible to deduce the joke without it, but the caption actually delivers the punchline in an actually witty way, which is unusual for Randall.

  50. Carl: 675 should get the "liberal arts suck" tag. I guess I didn't make that clear when I mentioned it. It's the same joke as 793, just without any jab at physics and even harsher on the liberal arts.

  51. Carl Wheeler! Big fan!



  52. Well, Carl, you should also add 451 to the list of "liberal arts suck" tag. In fact, it was listed in another of those comics.

    How did you miss that?

    [Good bye in some obscure language]


  53. Ravenzomg 3:19

    Diesel Sweeties shouldn't be that high on the pretty scale. I always thought it looked like crap. Upper left quadrant is curiously empty. You can chuck Questionable Content in there. And VG Cats.

  54. @Ravenzomg's linked chart

    So are they saying penny arcade is mediocre, or simply using penny arcade as a bench mark?

  55. @Arthur: maybe both?

  56. I dunno, I've never found Achewood funny AND it strikes me as fugly - I think that chart is off. Same with Diesel Sweeties (although they seem to have the occasional golden one)

  57. UndercoverCuddlefishSeptember 21, 2010 at 4:33 PM

    i am amused by the notion that penny arcade and achewood are even comparable in terms of visual appeal

  58. yeah I always thought that PA was pretty generally considered one of the prettiest webcomics out there.

  59. single-panel comics make the best goatkcds.

  60. Thanks guys for more tag suggestions. I didn't even try to go through the list, that's why I "missed" so many.

    I think Penny Arcade has great art, and, more importantly, funny art. But Achewood's is good too. Nothing special, as it's a lot of copying and pasting (or otherwise computer aided drawing) but it still works well I think.

    what kind of person is so pressed for time that they have to abbreviate "penny arcade" as "penny arc." I think that is the real question.

  61. Achewood's art is good but it does have its issues. For instance, no matter how hard I try I cannot bring myself to see Ray as a cat.

  62. true, true. But the characters are all so much more human than basically any other characters in webcomics that I just think of them as humans.

  63. wow, I really don't understand how, or why some one would make a daily habit of being hyper critical of some one else's creativity.

    Even if you didn't think "any" of his comics were funny, why not just not read them. Instead of dedicating yourself to pointing out it's inadequacies. It's puzzling.

    It seems that you think that Randell doesn't do it it right. So, might I suggest you do it yourself.

    Maybe you will make much funnier comics. In which case I will applaud you, otherwise I can only assume your obsession stems from spite, and envy.