2016-09-25

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1724 - Proofs & #1725 - Linear Regressions




I could swear that I've read a comic with almost the exact structure, setup, etc, as the first comic, but I can't remember anything about it so I can't prove that Randy's treading old ground. JUST TRUST ME OKAY?? 

I've mocked XKCD for trying too hard to be 'relatable' before (and I will again, just try and stop me!) but I think this is definitely worse. These seem like anti jokes, jokes that you'd have a character say and the joke is that he's trying and failing to be funny. 

Dara O Briain has a bit at the beginning of one of his stand up specials where he talks about how sometimes he gets shit for not making jokes about Muslims even though he makes jokes about Catholics and etc. And he says, do you know what he says, I'll tell you what he says: "1. I don't know a thing about Muslims. 2. Neither do you." (watch the special, his delivery is what makes that joke) Later in either that special or the next one, he does a bit about that movie 2012, and he goes and explains the rough plot as the first part of the bit. 

It's such a simple solution. Your audience needs to know something to understand a joke you're going to make? Exposit knowledge at them in the form of more jokes. Randy is just assuming we know what the heck he's talking about. 

I will say that I do like the idea of a constellation called "Rexthor, The Dog-Bearer", though. Also it was nice of Randy to make a joke about graphs instead of making a joke in the form of a graph.

2016-09-21

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1722 - Debugging & #1723 - Meteorite Identification


I'm really on board with the concept of this one, but I think something's lost in having it all described to an audience surrogate. I wish we got a shot of him crawling through a dark tunnel, and in his mouth there's a piece of paper with an IP address written on it in blood, something like that. The sword of Martin The Warrior sounds important, shouldn't it get some kind of actual buildup?

Also, that 'long story short' is bullshit. It reminds me of how amateur fanfiction writers will use the word "somehow" to mean "i couldn't think of an explanation but i wanted it to happen anyway". Half the fun of the joke is the transition from boring tech speak to exciting archaeological (?) discovery, and that takes that away.

That last line by White Hat is totally unnecessary as well, it's just spelling out what's supposed to be funny. The correct reaction would be "...wait, what?".

To steal a joke from Jon Levi, I'm not mad with this comic, I'm just disappointed. This was such a cool idea for a comic and we end up with this bland, nondescript, and non-descriptive 6/10.


I'm gonna get killed by getting hit by a meteorite just to spite this comic.

For real though, who has been so personally affected by people who think rocks are meteorites? That's the only group I can think of that would enjoy this comic. I feel insulted on behalf of people that expected an actual joke out of XKCD on the day this went up; instead, they got lectured that they should give up that hope of ever seeing a meteorite.

That interpretation is probably too harsh but this comic still consists of nothing than "You have not seen a meteorite" and it's like fuck you man! I saw one on Monk once!

I actually considered heading to the American Museum Of Natural History where they apparently have meteorites on display, but that's a three hour trip each way and I ain't got that time to give away, sorry. I drew a rough replica of what the blog would have looked like if I'd done that, tho:


2016-09-17

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1720 - Horses & #1721 - Business Idea


I've heard Horses is a good album but I haven't gotten around to listening to it yet. There's too much good music out there!

This comic actually made me Think about self-driving cars and how I would want them to be judged, which I'm counting as a point in XKCD's favor even though I ended up coming to the conclusion that it was wrong. Horses can't navigate, a self driving car with a GPS smashes a horse in terms of functionality (and also speed and comfort and etc).

That said, I am okay with this joke. People being impressed by the digitized intelligence of a horse is just inherently funny to me for some reason. The comic could have been better, I'd have added a bit where someone rebrands the horses in the computer and we end up with something even worse, but as it is I am not unsatisfied.

Points are deducted for the awful art in the first two panels, tho. C'mon, Randy, that chick's head is deformed in two different ways in the same comic, your job is literally drawing stick figures, how have you not got the hang of this yet.


How many of my readers watch Castle? Man, that show had like two good seasons, didn't it? And that finale's gotta go down as one of the worst in history. Anyway, y'know that one bit in that first episode where Castle's talking about the case pretending it's a book idea to his writer buddies? He's like "So everyone thinks this guy did it.... and then he did." All his writer friends are like "wow that's dumb, not how mystery books work bro, put a twist in that"*

That's how I feel about this comic. We're given every indication that a guy is going to have a dumb idea... and then he does. If the joke was just supposed to be that he's dumb, why do we get the two panels of nothing buildup? They're basically filler except XKCD comics don't even need filler so I don't even know what they are.

He's not even being dumb in a funny way, he's just presenting an idea that happens to be bad. It reads more like Randy's trying to make him hilariously boring, but he's not being long-winded or big-vocabulary'd enough.

*Proof that I'm nitpicky about everything and not just XKCD: That scene is so dumb, real crimes aren't like books, if you are investigating a crime please do not base your conclusion on what would make the best story

2016-09-15

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1718 - Backups & #1719 - Superzoom


I find this very relatable. I backed up a folder once.

I'm actually going to leave the joke itself completely alone. In the analysis of why this joke doesn't work, lets put aside what's common knowledge and what isn't, whether tech jokes should be made accessible to dumb people like me, let's just sweep that all to the side.

In this comic, a guy has somehow set it up so that his folders are being backed up and synced with what is implied to be all computers on Earth. We don't see any of the process by which this system came to be, which is the most interesting part of this story. Even if it's not necessarily funnier, it'd be much more entertaining to see than the guy narrating his computer issues to us.

Now for the punchline, it is revealed that the backup process thing is growing and infecting more computers. This would be MASSIVE in real life. There is SO MUCH potential for a punchline with that information. Off the top of my head I came up with him getting a call from the army telling him to delete his porn since its clogging up their targeting systems. But all we get is someone off-screen saying "Oh my God. You are why we can't have nice things." What does that even mean in this context? I know it expresses disapproval but what is it actually saying?

Douglas Adams has a bit in The Salmon Of Doubt where he talks about that "Do Re Mi" song from The Sound Of Music and he complains about how "La, a note to follow so" is a really obvious and lame placeholder for something better. And that's what this whole comic feels like, just completely first draft.

[EDIT]
Wow okay I was wrong about the syncing up to every computer thing, and what's actually being suggested is that he's just getting better external hard drives, which is WAY MORE BORING than what I thought but whatever. My points about how the comic reads like a first draft stand, though. In my defense, I did check explainxkcd, I just misinterpreted the explanation. I take full responsibility for my misunderstanding, but the misunderstanding would still be less likely to have occurred if Randy made his comics more access able.
[/EDIT]


This one is actually kinda cute. The first panel is a liiiiiitle exposition-dump-y, BUT it also comes off as something that someone amazed at technology or trying to do a humblebrag. Also also I am a not-monster who understands that such exposition is necessary in a four-panel joke that needs to establish continuity.

After the first panel's over, though, even *I* can't find a nitpick! The guy's showing off his new toy, that is what a guy showing off his new toy sounds like. And then as a second part to the punchline we get the little line about Kevin, which is cute without distracting from the joke and is generally Nice.

2016-09-10

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1716 - Time Travel Thesis & #1717 - Pyramid Honey


Man, that chick's a bitch. "So you know about [X]?" does not warrant a "Yup. Thesis.", it warrants a "Yeah! Have you heard about [Y] yet?" And then everyone can discuss and network and ferment and then a time machine gets built.

She doesn't know what wormholes can use exotic matter to do. Well, she probably knows one of the things they can do, but time travel is 100% hypothetical right now, the guy could have a totally different perspective on things.

Also that's a really lame "time travel" effect in panel two. It looks like a bush.

Anyway, the joke itself is also pretty lame. A girl is rude to a guy and he feels bad. That's not comedy, that's misandry.

This review brought to you by the MRA Council Affiliate.


Oh, Black Hat, how far you've fallen. You used to damage cars and steal Russian submarines. Now you post on the internet about something no one cares about - that's only one step above me on the ladder of patheticness!

This is so sad. I honestly feel sorry for him. It's like if Richard Pryor came back to life and started starring exclusively in movies written by Adam Sandler. This is a guy who's murdered famous penguins for no reason, how do you go from that to something as toothless as this?

Not even joking, it took me a full week to think of that simile in that last paragraph.

2016-09-05

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1714 - Volcano Types & #1715 - Household Tips


I feel like it's a fair criticism that I can't tell where the 'serious infographic' ends and the joke part begins. I'm sure I had some lesson on the types of volcano back in grade school once, but without this comic making me look it up I wouldn't have even known there was more than one kind of volcano.

(And just to make it clear I know that by the time we hit "waffle cone" we're in joke country but I wasn't sure if somma or metasomma were also jokes or not. I may be comedy blind but I'm not that inept.)

That said, once we actually get to the joke part, I am mostly on board. "Doot Cone" sucks and "Waffle Cone" and "Inverse Volcano" are kinda just there for me, but all the others are fairly enjoyable ideas. ("Antlion" is the exception, it gets a pass because it reminded me how cool antlions are.) "Ghost Vent" is the kind of humor that I actively enjoy seeing from XKCD, even if it's not funny. It's like a lighter and softer version of Pictures For Sad Children's style of surrealism.


This comic would be better if it didn't have the framing device that it does. The jokes could work, but because they're being presented as advice, I can't help but feel vaguely insulted. I'm not dumb, I don't need to be told not to break my windows!

People being ignorant of obvious things is an easy formula for humor, but I think some of the enjoyment we get from watching stupid people is "I'm smarter than that". Giving the tips directly to the audience removes that element. We don't get to laugh at a character being stupid, the closest we can do is laugh at the speaker's assumption that we wouldn't know it.

Maybe I'm just too prideful, but I think we can agree that the comic wouldn't have lost anything if the guy was telling his advice to another guy instead of us. Maybe the other guy could come back with "...yeah, I know... have you... have you been living like that?" or something and the first guy could be like "Oh, you figured those out already? Wow, you must have all sorts of tricks by now!". It'd make the exact direction of the comic more clear.

2016-09-04

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1712 - Politifact & #1713 - 50ccs


The implication this comic is giving me is that no one likes Politifact because it comes at trivial facts that don't need to be disputed. See how it climbs in the window for just "I did not sleep well last night"? But the real reason no one likes Politifact is how it points out how all politicians are liars all the time so it's against everyone. Presumably this is the punchline Randy was shooting for, but the context added by the setup changes it.

XKCD Isn't Funny? Politifact says: Mostly True!


This is a stupid pun and I'm a fan of stupid puns. This one passes on humor alone. That said, it is still CouldBeATweet. Were I XKCD's beta-reader or editor, I'd suggest adding a panel where Doctor is being told something by her supervisor or department head or whatever doctors have. Supervisor could be like "...and here's the last of the forms." and Doctor would say "Geez, this is twice as much as I had to fill out for cutting that guy's leg off." or something. That's just one way this could be fleshed out into a Real Comic, though.

2016-09-01

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1710 - Walking Into Things & #1711 - Snapchat


This one works. I wish the neat landscape didn't go away after the first panel, though. There's a real missed opportunity to have a rock or something in front of him in the last panel, and he could be turning his head to say his part of the punchline, so it could be a little bonus joke that wouldn't be instantly noticed and therefore adds rewatch value.

Also, really really minor quibble, but isn't it technically not a control group, just a control, since it's just the one guy?


The joke is that snapchat photos are deleted by the service quickly, but it should still be viewable if the prize was "just" awarded. If the implication is that Bald tapped the snap but didn't see it, then Randy's making jokes about stuff he knows jack about, because you get one replay and can pay for more.

The real question is how the hell did snapchat win a Pulitzer? I looked it up and that's a journalism thing! You can't journalism in ten second videos!

2016-08-23

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1708 - Dehydration & #1709 - Inflection


I don't hate the joke in this one. I can appreciate the irony that someone heavily researching water would forget to hydrate. That said, the execution is pretty first-draft.

I know that XKCD is supposed to be minimalist and stuff, but that still doesn't excuse the dialogue in panel one. Who talks like that!? It sounds like someone reading the first line of an autopsy report, it's so clinical and precise. I'd submit it for a Bulwer-Lytton, if it wasn't also so boring.

Then a bunch of people chime in on this BORING conversation and I know it's just a joke comic strip but if you actually read it it's not good.

I am okay with panel three, that gets a pass from me. The laptop/book/whatever in her hand is a nice touch, even if it does disappear a second later.

The final panel has an okay punchline, but then follows it up with three post-punchline things. The first one, okay, that's a reasonable thing to say to a dehydrated person. The second, ehhh, if it's going to be a final punchline it should be moved to a new final panel. The last line is just completely unnecessary and not funny and doesn't make sense even. Have you ever tried drinking water straight from the tap? It's hard, you pretty much just get your lips wet at best. At worst, you just waterboard yourself.


I saw this joke in screenshotted tweet form on tumblr about a year ago, and it didn't have all that boring linguistic stuff in the front.

And if you're going to put two big-ass blocks of text about linguistics in front of a punchline, can it at least be assumed that the reader knows what an alphabet is? Even if the reader doesn't know the subtle nuance of the technical definition, everything needed to understand the comic can be inferred from "you can show the changes through spelling"

Also, where does Bald's question come from? The conversation is entirely based around inflections and suddenly he pops in with that. Pictographic languages aren't touched upon at all until his mention of them. I understand that IRL ("in real life" for all my readers that don't go on the Internet) random comments only tangentially related to the current conversation can get blurted out, but this isn't a conversation we're having over fast-food, this is Dialogue and should be treated as such.

I wish I had an up-to-date iPhone so I could end this review with a bunch of thumbs down emojis, but I don't, so just pretend these squares are emojis that aren't displaying through your browser.

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2016-08-16

XKCD Isn't Funny - #1706 - Genetic Testing & #1707 - XKCD Phone 4


This is like a clip from the most boring sitcom ever made. There's no banter over getting the DNA testing, no mini-jokes about what kind of genetic sample was used, not even a Homestar Runner reference!

Not gonna lie, after looking that link up I watched an hour of Homestar Runner stuff. Man, that is top quality internet right there. Coming back to XKCD is like following up a delicious coq au vin with some snot on a paper plate.

This whole comic is just a bunch of set ups to jokes that don't happen. It could almost be funny, if it was intentional anti-humor. As it is, we have "I should probably start avoiding chocolate" as a punchline. Not even "Well, it explains my chocolate allergy". Instead he's tacitly admitting that he's had chocolate before without bad side effects.

Other missed opportunity: Having the percentages in panel three not add up to one hundred. It'd be a little mini gag that some people would miss, making it all the more special to those who spotted it. It'd even go with the theme that ancestry tester places are bullshit.


Oh god he's going to keep making these. He's like Wall-E, keeping on with his useless and unrewarding task because no one is telling him to stop. I haven't seen Wall-E since it came out, does it still hold up?

So, let's pretend it was funny the first time he did this. It wasn't, but let's pretend. He's making fun of how smartphones have useless features and they're poorly made and stuff, okay that's fine. I don't see why Randal Munroe has to tell us this while Maddox is still alive, but to hell with it. Why then, do we need the same joke repeated three more times?