XKCD Isn't Funny - #1728 - Cron Mail & #1729 - Migrating Geese

Ha! Take THAT, Cron! Randall "XKCD" Munroe just ripped you a fucking new asshole! I bet you thought you could get away with sending lots of mail, but not on his watch! Now everyone who reads this comic knows how much you suck! I never heard of you before in my life, but now I know to AVOID AVOID AVOID, and furthermore

Seriously though the joke is just him whining about a computer inconvenience, who cares. That's not to say that having a big email backlog is completely devoid of comedy potential (I recall Allie Brosh doing some good things with it), but if the joke is as contentless as this comic, the seed exists in an unwatered state.

I think the biggest problem with this comic is that his "hardball" retaliation is completely toothless. Here's hardball: printing out every one of the emails and mailing them back. Revenge isn't funny if it takes five seconds to plan and execute, revenge is funny when it takes lots of preparation (especially if the revenge is for something minor. See: Dan VS., some of the Kramer subplots in Seinfeld, even #405

I gotta admit - the only reason I'm reviewing this comic right now is because this is the last thing I can do while still pretending to be productive before I have to tackle my homework backlog. Why didn't any of my high school teachers tell me college was gonna be hard!? Well, okay, they did, but why didn't they MEAN it? Back then I could write three essays in a day on a book I'd never read and get hundreds on all of them! (real thing that happened by the way) Now if you don't spend every waking moment studying suddenly you haven't done any of your homework.

So this comic - this fffffffffucking fffffcomic. It's not good. Actually the "Kevin" part is okay, but THAT's IT. None of the comic has any context or reason to exist. A goose being a CIA informant on other geese is a funny idea, but we don't get to see any of it, we just get the idea. This is a comic of broad, nondescript concepts, with no reason or connection for anything.

Any one of these ideas (except for the valence geese, that just sux) could have been made into a real joke. A goose CIA agent informing on other geese has SO MUCH POTENTIAL. As is, it's like saying "a guy gets hit in the crotch by a golfball" instead of actually seeing the guy get hit in the crotch by a golfball.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1726 - Unicode & #1727 - Number Of Computers

This comic comes off as very hypocritical considering the amount of times Randy's used "turn of phrase is taken literally" as a joke.

Does anyone remember Diary Of A Wimpy Kid? Back when it was a webcomic and good, there was this part where the kid has to hang out at his grandpa's and the only game they have is "Gutbusters" where you tell each other jokes and try to make them laugh, except all of the jokes are super outdated. The example given, as best I can remember, is "Putting financial stability before fiscal responsibility is like putting the cart before the horse."

This comic isn't quiiiite that bad, but it's still not a joke. I'll accept it as a statement, I'll even go so far as to call it 'not the worst thing I've seen this year', but it's not a joke. Even as a statement, it's pretty uncreative, a half-step up from cliché, and it doesn't do a great job at explaining why it's so difficult for unicode to do whatever it is they do.

I guess the visual makes it funnier - not that I'm saying it makes it funny, just that it's less unfunny.
If we were supposed to find humor in the guy trying to control the tides, it loses a lot of its impact when it's just a drawing of a simile. Like, I can suspend my disbelief and laugh at an actor pretending to be an idiot or a drawing of someone being an idiot, but when that idiot is then established to be just being dumb for the sake of a point, the dumbness is no longer "ha ha, he's being dumb!", y'dig?

"This is all setup with no punchline." - me, being an IDIOT as I wrote the rough draft of this post last night. HOw the hell did I miss that huge ass caption that MAKES this comic!?

Fun fact that I've been wanting to wedge into a review for a while now: for ages, my eyes just slid over the caption in #68 and I just interpreted it as the best series of non-sequiturs of all time.

My usual criticism of graph jokes would apply here, but I honestly can't think of a succinct way to turn this into a 'panel' comic 'comic' thing, with a 'plot'-type thing. This is the rare case when I think the graph + caption execution is actually the best way of getting the joke across.

A super nitpicky pedantic thing, real quick before anyone thinks I'm capable of actually enjoying anything: This comic only works for a specific definition of 'computer'.


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.


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:


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


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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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!