XKCD Isn't Funny - #1569 - Magic Tree

 Since people rarely try to cut down cell phone towers, after millions of years, as cell phone towers have gotten more treelike, trees have started growing fake cell phone tower attachments and shiny gray bark to protect themselves. This is a standard textbook example of convergent evolution.

Fun fact about cell phone towers and trees! In some areas of Britain, early cell phone towers that looked like trees had real trees planted around them so the illusion would look better. BUT, eventually those trees grew higher than the tower, and the tower became useless since the trees cut off the signal! For more fun facts like this, follow the No Such Thing As A Fish Podcast, featuring not me. (Would any of you be interested in a podcast actually featuring me?)

I like the setup for this one, probably more than I should. It's cute! If Beret is gonna have weird supernatural stuff happen around him, I am totally down for it leading to MAD-style parodies of classic fairy tales. But I don't feel like this is a full parody, it seems more like the outline for one. We should see Beret on the cloud above the beanstalk, and the giant is the president of Cox (and not Verizon because this is #1569). The comic as it is feels a little cut short.

Two nitpicks:
1) Why is she surprised she doesn't have a signal if the cell tower just sprouted recently? Shouldn't she be used to not having a signal in that area? [EDIT: This is very dependent on the amount of time between the tower growing and Beret chopping it down. We can assume it's simply been long enough that Hair got used to the signal's availability.]
2) How did Beret chop down the cell tower if all he had with an ax? I'll admit I'm not an expert on metal hardness, but from what Google is telling me the ax would break way before the tower.

By the way, does anyone else remember that The Thief and the Beanstalk book? That book was the bomb dot com when I was a kid (except not really, because it turns out that thebomb.com is just a redirect to thechive.com, and thechive.com is crap).


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1567 - Kitchen Tips

 Household tip: Tired of buying so much toilet paper? Try unspooling the paper from the roll before using it. A single roll can last for multiple days that way, and it's much easier on your plumbing.

I actually make scrambled eggs in a microwave, but that's apparently less-than-common so I'll forgive the glaring oversight.

I like this one! Infomercials are kind of an easy target, but anyone reading this blog should know how hypocritical I'd be if I criticized this comic for that.

The comic escalates very nicely, starting out as normal and getting more destructive with each panel. And the last panel jumps the level more than the previous jumps, giving it more of a punch. I particularly enjoy the "but there's a better way..." even as he sprays water full force at an open freezer. You can really imagine him looking right into the camera as he says it, doing that "infomercial" smile (you know what I mean don't pretend you don't).

I have a minor nitpick in that panels one through three show the guy using the better way, but panel four shows him using his old method. It's totally worth it in my opinion though.

In conclusion, David Cameron fucked a pig. [EDIT: A dead pig]


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1566 - Board Game

Yes, it took a lot of work to make the cards and pieces, but it's worth it--the players are way more thorough than the tax prep people ever were.


See, this is a prime example of a perfectly good idea that just needed someone else to look at it and say "Hey, Randy, this doesn't really work, how about this instead?". This could be great, but not the way it's executed. Board games and taxes are fairly separate in most peoples' minds (I imagine), This comic either needs more buildup/description to exposit on how Randy turned taxes into a board game, making it like a modern version of the Tom Sawyer white fence thing, or 'board game club' into 'high school math team' or something similar, although that sounds like it's been done before.



XKCD Isn't Funny - #1565 - Back Seat

Hang on, let me scare the live raccoon over to the same side as the dead one.

Anyone who needs a good art draw thing done for them should contact my good friend this guy since he has good rates and is pleasant to work with.

Phew, with that first sentence out of the way the rest of this review should be a piece of cake!

I understand exaggeration for comic effect is a thing, but it feels too abrupt here.

It reminds me of part of one of Dara O Briain's stand up sets, where he talks about how some midwives are really dumb but think they're smart. And he gets to how one dumb broad (read: "woman") thought that tears were better than cuts for pregnancy thing, and he follows that with "...in fact, some doctors prefer to use a bear."

Now, I love Dara O Briain, I think he is a top quality entertainer and all four of the shows he has out on DVD had me in stitches the whole way through. But that one joke didn't hit right for me because of how it wasn't phrased like "Yeah, in a couple years I bet they'll just have fuckin' bears getting women ready for pregnancy, right?". It was presented like he was making fun of something actually happening, when it should have been him bringing a train of logic to it's illogical conclusion.

I can totally see this joke working with a different setup (not as a Dara joke though, it strikes me as more Dylan Moran). But the setup would have to put the punchline in a point of reference. Like his friend had said the thing before disappearing for three hours, and the decaying raccoon is his imagined description of what's really going on.

This comic kinda hints at a similar background but doesn't follow through. A statement this broad should at least have some supporting evidence to it.

Also, the placement of the comic between "Protip:" and the rest of the comic stunts the flow a little, although I can see why he felt like "protip" should be read first.

At least this comic's better than Andrew Jackson Jihad's "Back Pack". What a godawful album that came from.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1564 - Every Seven Seconds

 Every few months, I think about sex every seven seconds and how weird and implausible it would be.

I actually kinda like this comic. I wish I didn't, though. That way I could use the line "Every seven seconds I think about how awful XKCD is".

It's not super duper funny, but I like how it doesn't spell out the joke, while giving just enough infomation to get across what the statistic is. It doesn't go out and say "the statistic which states that men think about sex every seven seconds", it says "seven seconds" in reference to something else and "how often men think about sex", and we instantly know exactly what it's referring to.

The thought bubbles, while conveniently keeping this from being Could Be A Tweet material, are realistically phrased and add to the joke. I'm especially pleased to see the masculinity line, given Randy's previous examples of near inferiority complex when it comes to gender relations.

I do, however, have to admit to bias here: my mom was (possibly still is?) a statistician, and her detest of fake stats like this one absolutely rubbed off on me. It is entirely possible that someone less bothered by misinformation would read this comic and go "The hell do you care if someone believes an obvious lie?", which would be absolutely valid as a criticism of this comedic piece.

It's definitely true that the joke doesn't really go beyond "That statistic is stupid" and I could also see why someone would read this as a preachy comic, but since we're lacking White Hat, this does seem to just be a decent joke that wasn't taken as far as it could've been. Like what if the comic was about a man who actually thought about sex every seven seconds, and the hilarity that ensued when he went to a funeral?


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1563 - Synonym Movies

Fans eagerly await 2015's 'Space Fights: Power Gets Up', although most think 1999's 'Space Fights: The Scary Ghost' didn't live up to the hype.

This was such a good joke that I did it almost exactly the same except nine months ago and better.

And it's not like this is new material for XKCD either, really it's the same joke as #444#547, #722, #1133, and #1436. And of those, only the first two took it beyond just "using simpler words". Furthermore, #1133 was an entire poster of the joke, essentially doing the most with it at one time as can be done.

I can see the appeal to this joke, really, I can. But I can't think of any one-part jokes that wouldn't get old after five executions (at least when one of them was as big as #1133). It's not even a running gag, it's just doing the same bit again and again, and it's just boring at this point.

And way to spoil the ending of The Empire Strikes Back, Randy.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1562 - I in Team

There's no "I" in "VOWELS".

The other day I walked up to my good friend Randall Munroe and asked him how things were going. This being my good friend Randall Munroe, he immediately punched me square in the jaw, knocking me to the pavement. It hurt a lot, since he'd recently drawn a comic with color, which strengthened up his drawing arm to at least twice its usual muscle density.

"'How's it going?'" he repeated, looking down at me with a sneer so large that the sides of his mouth started to bleed, "What do you mean, 'How's it going?'? What is 'it', and where would it be 'going'?"

"Please, my good friend Randall Munroe," I begged him, "It's just a turn of phra-"

The tip of his steel toed boot made brief contact with my teeth, and suddenly I was displaced by about a foot or so, face down now. I tasted gravel, then blood.

"And how... the... fuck...." my good friend Randall Munroe said, kicking me full force in the side with every word, "Do you turn... a... phrase?" I heard him clearing his throat before spitting, the slimy result dripping down the side of my neck.

"I mean, Jesus Christ," he continued, a beam of light straight from Heaven shining down upon him as he spoke the name of the son of God, "What do you do, write down the words and then rotate them? You fucking idiot."

"I'm- I'm sorry..." I pleaded, the words slurred by blood and a missing tooth, "I was only using a figure of speech..."

My good friend Randall Munroe pulled a carton of cigarettes out of his pocket and tapped one out. He looked around as he smoked it before putting it out, half-finished, on my cheek.

"Please..." I said. He barely glanced down at me before walking away.

After a minute I was about ready to stand up when I heard a rapidly approaching roar of an engine. I looked up just in time to see my good friend Randall Munroe run over my legs with his 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT-8. I teared up as I looked down at the mess of crushed muscle and bone that were once my trusty shins. The pain wouldn't hit for another minute or so, I was still in shock.

"So like, the body shape of a word? Huh? Huh?" He called out, his voice muffled from inside the car. "Or are you saying the speech has a number?" Not waiting for a response, he gunned the engine, the back wheels spraying dirt and cloth and me onto my gaping wounds. I could faintly hear sirens in the distance.

Flecks of darkness crowded my vision, and sounds became more distant. "See you later... my good friend Randall Munroe." I slurred out, and everything went black.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1561 - Water Phase Diagram

 Vanilla Ice was produced in small quantities for years, but it wasn't until the 90s that experimenters collaborated to produce a sample that could survive at room temperature for several months.

In which Randy accidentally leaves in the Wikipedia page he was using as reference.

I can appreciate the effort that he went through to try and make the joke. Vanilla Ice being Ice VI is kinda clever. It is really forced though. Randy had to make an entire chart of water phases to get to it, and on top of that, he had to invert the usual graph orientation, which makes it read weirdly.

I don't really get what he was going for with the "Vanilla Ice" → "David Bowie & Queen". Like, I get one sampled the other and DB&Q is on the bottom because they're "under pressure", but it really looks like he's saying that Vanilla Ice turns into David Bowie & Queen when pressure is added, which is obviously nonsense.

My friend from Arizona adds: "h a h a h a h a they used a musicians name that I'm familiar with so I recognize that ha h a  h     a".

It did teach me there's more than one kind of ice, though. That's probably a plus on some level.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1560 - Bubblegum

 I came here to chew bubblegum and say no more than eighteen words... and I'm all out of

It's really convenient how explainxkcd gathered a little collection of previous parodies of the "kick bubblegum and eat ass" line to compare this comic to. As of time of writing, all the examples listed are one line, just like the line they're parodying. Even when XKCD last parodied it (it's in #1110 so I can't link directly to it), Randy only added a one-word response from another speaker.

With this, the (already lame) joke is stretched out by a beat panel and a line that doesn't work.

The idea that the two parts of the line are related is kinda clever. It'd have been funny to see Duke Nukem say "I'm here to kick ass and chew bubblegum." and then blow a bubble which kills someone. Unfortunately, the two parts of the parodied line are combined instead, as if we're parodying the parody.

I guess we could say that XKCD tried to have They Live / Duke Nukem parodied, but it just ended up parodead!

Also, I don't know if I'm just jaded, but the "make friends" thing strikes me as very Children's Movie. I understand Beret is sometimes supposed to be the 'naive and childlike' archetype, but there's not being angsty and there's The Lorax Movie.