Saturday, March 24, 2012

Comics 1032 and 1033: Noted Douchebag Writes Comic About Douchebags

[Just for the record, this post is expressly for the use of Ann Apolis, MD. Anyone else who reads it or comments on it is in violation of this site's EULA; by reading or commenting on this post while not being Ann Apolis, MD, you agree that you are a pathetic human being and also dumb. -Ed.]

1032. I've decided to start interpreting Beret Man's comics as being, in essence, Randall's attempt to document a friend's tragic descent into madness. Perhaps he's trying to raise awareness of mental illnesses like the one depicted here--this poor man has clearly lost all grip on reality, and has started eating business cards and carrying around suitcases full of cash. Mental illness is not funny, and it's clear Randall is trying his best to help his friend. It's admirable, and I'm glad that Randall has finally found a good cause to support.

1033. Perhaps Randall's awareness-raising efforts are also a cry for help. It's clear from this comic that he believes that issuing instructions that rely on jargon most drivers won't understand will prevent people from honking at him for being such a terrible driver. This plea for silence is as sad as it is dangerously erratic. Randall's seclusion from the real world is finally taking its toll on his mental health. This is no time to mock the man. Let us instead pity him.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Comics 1029-1031: Bang Head Against Leopard

1029. This is what xkcd has been reduced to: Randy is making jokes about how sometimes drawing a five-pointed star is difficult, if you are twelve.

1030. Have I complained about Randy's attempts to do character humor before? They are awful. There are those who theorize that Beret Guy is based on an actual human being, but as far as anyone has been able to tell, his only personality trait is that he is lolrandumb in a way that Randy finds admirable--he personifies what Randy thinks a whimsical person is like. Randy, unfortunately, has long since forgotten what whim is like. He has shackled himself to making terrible comics for a living--comics where he thinks 'MAN WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH DRAWING STARS?' is something worth putting up for his fans to adore. At this point I imagine he hates it, but the life of a webcomiceur has caused any skills he may have had to atrophy. He is trapped, and one day fears that making really big useless posters will not be enough, that his fanboys will abandon him, leaving him alone, with not even the milk of his beloved Megan to comfort him.

1031. Every March, the xkcd forodes do a thing where the mods introduce a bunch of wordfilters for "fun." This lasts for a week or so, and the mods are hella defensive about it. I believe standard practice is to ban anyone who complains, and the wordfilters tend to make things pretty much unreadable--this year, one of many replacements is "word" -> "bread". When you add enough of these "replace a word with a random other word" together it gets to the point where reading things is impossible.

But these are XKCD fans we're talking about--and not just any fans, but the sorts of fans who become moderators on the echochamber. They find this sort of thing funny. And Randy, who has apparently been hella short on ideas (to recap, the previous two comics have been about drawing stars and lol what if instead of keying someone's car you DREW A KEY ON IT????), decided to borrow their wordfiltering fun and apply it to his favorite things in the world: Reddit and Wikipedia.

(As an aside: I never visit Reddit, ever, so maybe I'm wrong, but why is there a Reddit thread where people are just randomly talking about their keyboards? There's no sort of context or continuity, ust 'here's a thing about keyboards I wanted to share!')

Monday, March 12, 2012

Comics 1026-1028: Miscommunication

1026. More shotgun humor, though this time he builds up to a punchline that is stilted as fuck. Nobody says they are "in" a summer's day. But he needed to make a sex joke (God knows why) so he forced it anyway. Also: am I crazy, or didn't he used to have the "short" box of "a summer's day" ticked?

1027. Hey look, more white knighting! I guess Randy has just discovered pick-up artists and "negging"? This one is mostly useless--random Black Hat Guy saying he's going to go crush some people's toes (so classy!), a strawman attack on an eminently douchey subcategory of humans, etc--though I really liked the penultimate panel.
Apparently the forums on this one are really fucking alive. I looked briefly and ran away, too scared to read anymore. It was already shaping up to be a glorious battle between the White Knights and the Aspie PUAs Who Think Calling PUAs Douchey Is Sexist Against Women (I Wish I Were Kidding).

1028. Some of you in the previous thread have made an effort to piece together what's happening here. I'm not going to make the attempt. After a few reads and aided by the valiant cuddlefish that attempted to interpret I'm pretty sure I have the narrative, but it's so not-intuitive that trying to explain it to you would be like trying to explain irony to the people who tell me that they're very sad that I'm such an angry person.
Suffice it to say, this is a comic about miscommunication, and Randall has successfully failed to adequately communicate what's going on! Indeed, were it not for the alt text and title, likely it never would have become one of earth's greatest mysteries, like whether the aliens or the Illuminati built the pyramids or whatever. The moral of the story is "successful communication is communication where people understand what you are saying, so if they don't understand, they fail, and Randy is one of the people he's complaining about in the alt text."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Comics 1023-1025: Xkcd Sucks Dot Tumblr Dot Com

Some reviews for you, including a very special guest review of 1025 by some cuddlefish named CrazyCod (coddlefish?).

1023. Some notes: first, Randy definitely wants you to know that he and his milk plant watch (watched?) Downton Abbey. This is important because last time he told you that he watches this popular British show on PBS he was intentionally getting the name wrong and you guys he was doing it to be funny.
This is one of the many XKCDs where I can see it being funny if it were written by someone who wasn't Randy. The execution is terrible--it reads like a pitch for a joke rather than an actual joke. I can see a number of webcomiceurs (or webcomiceusses) pulling it off. Randy didn't really try. He just described a scenario and said "wouldn't that be funny?

1024. It took me a while to realize that the pond wasn't supposed to be like a bunch of pacmen eating each other or something. I hear rumor that the fanboys think this is brilliant art instead of a passable "I guess you can tell this is supposed to be a pond and it's not fuck-off hideous" drawing.

1025.  [NB. the rest of this post is a guest review -Ed.]

Hello! I’m CrazyCod and I'm just now sending this review of Randy's latest comic-on-the-Internet to Rob (oh god i hope rob posts this i don’t want to have written it for nothing). Apparently, our collective sigh after 1024 turned out not to be a lame throwback to 1000 was loud enough that Randy picked up on it and decided to make 1025 even worse just to spite us.
So, let’s get straight to the point. Does 1025 have any comedic merit? I think it is pretty clear that it does not. There are several problems with the comic, the most important of which that it is simply not funny. Randy takes a hackneyed snowclone, which was arguably never funny to begin with, and substitutes it with another snowclone of his own creation. So, instead of “X would be a good name for a band”, we get “”! This is supposed to provoke hearty guffaws from the readers.
Well, given that my Internet habits revolve almost exclusively around xkcdsucks and assorted pornography, I thought that there might be a joke hidden in there that maybe I was just missing out on. Maybe, like certain bands that people worse than me would derisively attach the label “hipster” to, Tumblr blogs have long and pretentious names. As such, I travelled to the strange land of Tumblr in the hopes of understanding this comic. After navigating through the site’s utterly unintuitive design, I started reading through the blogs’ names, hoping to discover Randy’s source of inspiration. Even after browsing through the most pretentious of categories (I’m looking at you, Art and Film), I failed to find any blog names that were more than six words long, much less awkward, yet complete sentences about raccoon orgies.
And that brings us to another issue: the phrase “turns out some raccoons got in and were operating this, like, raccoon sex dungeon” is not funny! It's actually creepy and disgusting! I cannot fathom why anyone would think “that IS a good name for a band!” in the first place, much less make Randy’s mental substitution and think that it is a good name for a Tumblr blog. Most damning is that Randy could have used any other phrase for the “setup”, since the “punchline” works with any phrase whatsoever, but he chose to refer to raccoon orgies. Make of that what you will.
I’m not going to criticise the joke’s execution, because the joke itself is so bad that any execution would actually do it honour. The fact that there is a contemplative man saying “dot tumblr dot com” to a woman who is saying clearly inappropriate things to him doesn’t warrant a mention in the context of such a terrible joke. I would like to comment on the alt-text, however, that makes use of the deliciously self-referential idea that there could be a blog called (get this) dot tumblr dot com, because then its URL would be difficult to say out loud. Gee, Randy, that was hilarious when Slashdot did it, back in 1997.
I think you will agree with me when I say that a joke is less funny the more broadly applicable it is. As an example, take lightbulb jokes. Lightbulb jokes that can be applied to any group (how many republicans/democrats/whatever does it take to change a lightbulb just one but it doesnt matter they’ll never see the light anyway please like me guys) are infinitely less effective than lightbulb jokes play on a particular group’s characteristics and that wouldn’t work if said group was substituted with any other (how many kids with ADD would take to change a lightbulb HEY LET’S GO RIDE BIKES). Okay, that’s not a particularly funny example, but it gets the point across: change “kids with ADD” for “atheists” and the joke doesn’t work. Much like a friend to everybody is a friend to nobody, a joke that can accommodate any setup isn’t really a joke.