XKCD Isn't Funny #1580 - Travel Ghost (also QC#3079)

And a different ghost has replaced me in the bedroom.

I like this one, probably more than I should. Maybe it's because I always expect the worst when White Hat shows up, but thankfully he doesn't say a word. The transition between the ghost being digital and physical is maybe a little too abrupt, like there could have been another panel where Original Dad (OD) and Ghost are both driving by someone who says "Hey" and it's not clear who it's meant for. 

I also think Randy missed out on a great opportunity for a second punchline where OD tries deleting the app, and then maybe it could be like "No, OD. You are the app" and then the final panel is the phone on the ground doing that spinny thing that things that are dropped do sometimes.

Well, since this review's kinda short (and also so I could try out something new on you guys), here's a Questionable Content.

(titles considered for this thing if it becomes regular: "Questionable Content Isn't Funny", "QC Isn't Funny", "QC Is Questionable", "JJ Meets GG". Which do YOU think is best???)

Faye's therapy must not be helping much if she wants to physically harm someone for making a joke. It wasn't even an offensive joke, it was just "Hey I put something in your milk haha no i didn't actually", no one was physically affected, much less harmed. Pintsize has done way worse in the past, why is this the one where Claire brings out the big guns?

And said guns are way too big. Like, think about it. This is literally the equivalent of threatening to give an epileptic person a seizure and then lobotomizing them when they pass out. It's especially fucked up after you consider all the stuff Jeph's previously written about human-AI bonds and the AI's having actual sentience, etc.

I get that this comic was meant to show that Claire's secretly hardcore for whatever reason, but it goes way too far. I'm now unable to read her as anything but some kind of psychopath. Even if there was no real muscle behind the threat, that doesn't make it okay. Going back to the epilepsy comparison (y'know, the one the comic gives us), if you went up to an epileptic person with a flashlight and were like "What'll happen if I swing this in front of your face really fast?", you don't get let off the hook if you took the batteries out first. It's still actually traumatic to the other person (assuming I'm not totally wrong about how epilepsy works).

I want to make it clear I don't dislike this because it's dark, I dislike it because it's dark without a reason to laugh at it. Maybe if Pintsize hadn't been humanized so much by this point, it would work. But as is, this comic is literally just a depiction of someone essentially being threatened with death and then begging to just be tortured instead. It's not even a funny kind of torture, like being beaten to death with a spoon.

Also, her face in the fifth panel totally makes it look like she's getting off on this. I bet she tortured squirrels in her backyard when she was a kid, too.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1579 - Tech Loops

 And when I think about it, a lot of "things I want to do" are just learning about and discussing new tools for tinkering with the chain.

I get that Randy probably intended for this to be confusingly organized, but he actually succeeded too well. It goes beyond being a convincing depiction of the nonsensical way he's organized his computer system and the comic just becomes hard to understand.

Most people in the Western world, which is where the majority of XKCD's audience lives, tend to read left to right and top to bottom. This means that most readers would read a contextless "supports" first, and like me, not realize it's meant to be a key. I learned it in seventh grade: you always label your keys when making a chart or graph or etc, just like you always label your axes. Also, the key shouldn't be in the top left, it should be available but nonintrusive in the top right, where the punchline is hanging out for some reason. The "Things I..." box should be moved to the bottom right, since it's meant to be the last thing the reader sees.

After the reader actually starts on the flowchart proper, they'll start at either "tool" or "updater", naturally pick the rightmost arrow on the latter, and end up at the dead end of "repository" a few arrows later. It's very counter-intuitively designed.

And when I'm done reading this I'm kinda just like "Okay, well, stop being shit at computers then." Maybe it's more relatable if you're a more techy person. Either way, it's a pretty lame joke made even worse by the presentation.

I mainly just feel bad for the people at explainxkcd that had to transcribe this.

XKCD Isn't Funny - #Bill Gates - XKCD Marks the Spot

"It's funny that XKCD did a thing for Polio Day because XKCD is also a disease.", I tweeted, shortly before realizing that I should review the thing and I'd just wasted a perfectly good opening line.

You'd think that Randy would see the opportunity to get a comic published on Bill Gates' blog as a chance to expand his audience. This isn't something throwaway, this is essentially a commission. So I really question why Randy didn't put more effort into this.

One of the main things wrong with this comic is the lack of context. Who are these people? Why is this being presented to them? Why is the presentation so short? None of these questions are actually answered, we're left to guess. Maybe the guy is supposed to be Donald Trump since he keeps saying stupid things and has bad hair.

Another thing is that the stupid character we're presumably meant to laugh at isn't stupid in any kind of realistic way. He's almost acting like a bad political cartoon's depiction of millennials, with the way he only seems to understand exciting new technologies. And then on top of that he just keeps going even after being corrected multiple times. Half the panels are redundant. No one who'd passed 9th grade would do this! If someone did, I'd commend Randy on his exemplary satire of them. But 'they' don't exist.

Art-wise, the polio arrow things look kinda neat, but everything else is pretty dire. Panels one and three in particular, they look scribbled. As if those three people behind the desk didn't seem stupid enough, what with their silence and not doing anything. And in panel four, the line for they guy's body goes over the panel border! These are amateur mistakes! On Bill Gates' blog.

Less unforgivable but still bad: the idiot guy would have to stand up for panel six to be composed the way it is, but he's sitting back down in panel nine. This would seem to represent an increase in intensity or passion, but no other verbal or physical cues are given from him or the presenter chick to indicate that.

This is a comic that I just think Randy didn't think through or even work very hard on. Maybe he got tired after doing the diagrams for panels two and seven. I'm frankly amazed that Bill Gates didn't ask for something better.

Also the line about smallpox is wrong, the government keeps some in a vial in a coffee can in the White House refrigerator so that they can kill us all if we start a large-scale rebellion.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1578 - Squirrelphone

After a while, the squirrel starts making that beeping noise and doesn't stop until it hops back up onto the stump.

Before we start today, I'd like to thank everyone that's ever posted a correction to something I'm wrong about, whether it was an error of grammar or logic or factual accuracy. I only just now realized how nice a compliment that is, that someone would not just read what I have to say, but also help me improve. You probably know that I'm not going through the easiest time in my life right now, and I just wanted to say that you're the best audience I could ask for. Thank you.

"xkilnkivhgdcvjkubol" - my cat.

My reaction to this comic is kinda summed up by the last panel. I don't get why this is supposed to be funny. It's almost like what Making XKCD Slightly Worse would do to a comic about using squirrels for phones: "What'd you expect if you pick up a squirrel and hold it to your ear, ya dingus?" But it's not as funny when Randy's making Reality Ensue on something he made happen. When someone gets hit in the face with a pie, they aren't the one throwing it. You can't spray your own pants and then be embarrassed that you look like you wet your pants. That'd be almost like reading a webcomic you tend not to enjoy and then complaining that it's not good.

If this is supposed to be a parody of like, bananaphones, it's not clear enough. The setup should include some people picking up bananas, and then this guy desperately tries to fit in by grabbing the nearest thing, which ends up being a rabid squirrel.

In conclusion, here's a video of 10th grade me playing my friend's keyboard. 


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1577 - Advent

 The few dozen doors that have little Christmas trees on them are a nice touch.

I'd like to see what it would look like if Stickman Jones didn't have that slight white aura around him. I don't want to criticize it even though it looks bad because I can totally imagine the comic looking even worse without it.

I do appreciate that Jones is there, though. Without him, this comic would have naturally had the reader as the assumed receiver of the gift, and it would have come off like one of those annoying "you are wasting your life" things. I'm the guy behind XKCD Isn't Funny, I know I'm wasting my life, I don't need to be told!

And while I also appreciate the effort I presume went into drawing the calendar, why is the calendar all we see? Why isn't there a bow on top and someone presenting it really happily? It doesn't look like it's a gift, is what I'm saying. It looks like this is just something he's owned and is contemplating before he opens the next flap thingy.

Another thing that would have added to the joke: A single flap visibly undone, and a piece of stale chocolate in Stickman Jones' hand. Just picture the scene: He now knows exactly how long he's got to live, and all he has with him to console himself is a sub-butterfinger slab of processed cocoa and vegetable fat.

This comic is technically Could-Be-A-Tweet (coming eventually to a TVTropes page near you!*), but I'm feeling the need for the art on this one. It could just be the way the caption's phrased, but wouldn't it be a bit confusing to just have "Unsettling gift: Life Expectancy Advent Calendar"? It could still definitely be fleshed out into a multi-panel comic, but that doesn't feel necessary to me here.

I'm also glad that Randy didn't make it into an infinite birthday cake or something like that, with a candle for every day of life. Because that would have meant that there would have been infinite birthday wishes, and I really hate SJWs (Stickman Jones Wishes).

*if my audience becomes big enough to influence such things.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1576 - I Could Care Less

 I literally could care less.

Wow that's a lot of words. I didn't sign up for this! I'm down for unfunny attempts at deep observations, but if I wanted long unfunny attempts at deep observations, I'd be reviewing Subnormality! Or possibly Least I Could Do.

I want to make it clear that I'm not just criticizing this comic for having the Wall Of Text thing going on, I'm criticizing it for not really being a comic. It's an essay disguised as a comic. And in my opinion, that results in a poorly delivered message and an unfunny comic.

Randy probably could have taken the preachiness and shortened the monologue and made this into a less smug, actually funny observation. That's a probably, I don't know how, but it probably could have been done by someone with some comedy talent in them.

This could also have been a somewhat interesting blog post. I don't know how much I'd have agreed with it, but it'd have made me look at something in a way I hadn't before, which is never a bad thing. (This is assuming the smugness is toned down at least a little) Unfortunately, either because he thought it would be more marketable or more palatable or more interesting in this format, he made it into a smug, unfunny, I might go so far as to say pretentious, comic. ("Everything else is pointless" is heavy phrase, I'd have saved it for something about like, overpopulation or something.)

It's also kinda hypocritical, isn't it? He's made so many jokes about taking turns of phrase literally, are they now all cancelled out by this one? On top of that, like, the dictionary is a thing. I used to think "acrimonious" meant "friendly", and that was my understanding of it, but that was demonstrably wrong and I needed to be corrected on that so I could let go of my hope of The Clash ever getting back toegether.

In conclusion, I could care less about this comic, but I could also care a lot more about it.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1575 - Footprints

 "There's one set of foot-p's cause I was totes carrying you, bro!" said Jesus seconds before I punched him.

I'm torn on this one. One half of me says that a graph is the best way to tell this joke, because the joke is specifically in reference to alterations in a number, and it would get tedious to have every panel captioned with "Sets of footprints: [X]". The other half of me says that no, that way would be totally fine, and we're missing a great visual gag seeing your Lord being carried by some schlub.

I consulted my good friend, Lightning, and he says, yes, the graph/text thing is straightforward and easy to understand. He also points out that the "Jesus disappeared..." gag wouldn't work since the reader would see the same panel five times and get bored.

My favorite part of the comic is the end: "Went home", which brings to mind the image of Jesus and Friend having gone on this epic adventure thing. Like Lamb, only good.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1574 - Trouble for Science

I was so pleasantly surprised when I first read this comic. I thought to myself "Oh, a science comic that doesn't require you to know much actual deep science for you to get the joke, cool!". And then I got halfway through my review before checking explainxkcd and finding out that the first four are true things that have happened.

The way I was reading this comic, the headlines start realistic before getting progressively more absurd, making the reader go back and realize they're all lies. Now that I know the actual meaning behind the comic, I feel like it was supposed to be a "What next?" type of punchline. Like Randy's a standup comic all of a sudden*, and he's saying "So what's the deal with these things in the scientific community? Antibodies don't work, rat testing doesn't work... what's next, Bunsen burners cooling things down?"

The problem is, nothing differentiates the last headline from the others besides the heightened level of absurdity. Without anything to distinguish why that absurdity is there, the reader is left assuming that all other headlines are similarly absurd.

My suggested fix is that we go to the two people walking thing that Randy does occasionally. The setup is something like "Did you hear...", "Yeah, and..." etc, and the punchline is "I bet next year we'll find out Bunsen burners make things colder.". It wouldn't be a great comic, but I'd have nothing of substance to complain about, and any day I can't complain about a comic is a good day for Randy.

*Obligatory joke: I knew he could do comedy, I just didn't know he could stand up.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1573 - Cyberintelligence

We had gathered that raw information, but had yet to put it all together.

First off, how does one pronounce "FY2015"?

Mainly though, where did Randy get the idea that people don't say "cyber"? I see that like every time I go on Omegle! In addition, there's this (credit to Robert Mason for bringing that to my attention via retweets). I could kinda see it if he's saying that people don't use it in the technical sense, but even then a quick google search reveals a decent amount of NERDS saying it.

The idea of someone sinking eight billion dollars into something and not realizing that one of their base assumptions is flawed is kinda funny, but none of the money was actually wasted, they're still going to give results, it's not like they have to admit that cyberintelligence doesn't exist, nothing is actually lost. If Mel Brook's quote "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall down an open sewer and die." (and it is), then what's the death here? Nothing. It's not like that one study that tried to find a correlation between autism and vaccines for like four years before concluding there isn't one. (I really wish I could link you but I can't find it)

The joke is just #1258 in a Halloween costume. It's just an observation of something being less prevalent, and it doesn't actually do anything with that observation, although it at least pretends to, kinda.

In conclusion, could "XKCD Isn't Funny" be abbreviated to "XIF"?


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1572 - xkcd Survey

Introducing not a joke and not an interesting not joke either.

I really feel like this is the kind of thing that should be regulated to What If?. Like, end one column with this, mention it in a blog post or a tweet, and it'll already be spreading because people love sharing XKCDs, and then have the next What If? be about the data. But instead, a perfectly good comic space is wasted forever (unless Randy changes this comic to show the data in which case I'll re-review it but it still won't be a joke).

I just don't get the point of this. Like, it's not a joke, it's not artistic, it's not even one of those kinda interesting ideas he has from time to time. It's not even informational, all of the questions are 'quirky' and don't actually give any interesting demographic information. I'd be genuinely interested if there were questions like "how did you find XKCD?", "how long have you been reading", "what is your favorite comic", etc, but instead we get "do you know your astrological sign (y/n)", "type 'cat'", and "When you first saw The Dress, what color was it?" (seriously, Randy, even the people that cared about that last one don't remember that by now). There are "How many older/younger/twin siblings do you have?", "How old are you?", and I guess a few others, but they're like five questions out of fifty so it doesn't count.

In conclusion, my answers to the questions as currently given by explainxkcd:
Yes; No but I might someday; What dress?; lobster; Yes, occasionally; No; cat, dog, fish, bear, bird; Pleasent; Run in high heels, Ice skate, Cut vegetables with a knife, Swim; Recieve; No; Warmer; a t-shirt, a hoodie, and a necklace; No; 23; 9; No; No; 0, 1, 0; Yes; Angelina Jolie; No; No; Yes; sdfa; 2; No; Yes; Vanilla; 23; No; No; Yes; 18; White; iPhone; fries and a baconburger with cheese; No, Yes, Yes, No, No, No, Yes, No, No, No, No, Yes, No, No, Yes, No, Yes, Yes, No, No; no; Yes; No; Neutral; Yes; Beer, Tomatoes; Caffinated soda, Fruit juice, Milk, Water; like, if, you've, ever, jumped; No; 4; Sub, Hamburger, Open-faced sandwich; Cat person; No; No.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1571 - Car Model Names

CLIMAX is good, but SEXCLIMAX is even better.

It's like a better version of the Planet Names comic. I can really appreciate the math that went into this too*. I was all set to complain about it just being a graph joke, and then he used the information in the graph joke to make a series of mini-punchlines. My favorite is the 2chainz/3chainz! I do feel it ends kinda weak with "Cervixxx" which strikes me as the "ew sex" thing Randy does occasionally. Additionally, the more gibberishy ones tend to fall flat since obviously you can stack the deck if you know which letters lead to which outcome. Overall, though, pretty enjoyable!

*Assuming the math is accurate. I'd appreciate an actual explanation of how the numbers were reached.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1570 - Engineer Syllogism

I totally had to look up what syllogism meant, but that's totally a personal failing on my end.

This comic is thirteen letters too long to be used as a tweet, but it's still one of the most "could be a tweet" comics XKCD's put out. Look how text-driven it is, to the point where it lists out the segments of the joke. It might as well be labeling panels one through three with a big caption saying "SETUP" and panel four with one saying "PUNCHLINE". It's so dry. I understand that keeping it as a syllogism requires the different statements to be numerically labelled, but why does it have to be a syllogism? It just subtracts from the humor the joke could have had without adding anything.

The punchline is also actually impossible. He hasn't even finished deciding to enter the stock market, and he's already lost all of his money to it. Is exaggeration for comic effect a thing? Sure, but there's a limit. Like, it could have been funny if he got a few more words in and had his hands on the keyboard with little "type type" sound effects, but when he clearly hasn't actually started it's a lot less fun to see him get cut off.

In conclusion, it's more like an engineer sylloJISM!