XKCD Isn't Funny - #1544 - Margaret

Otherwise known as Margaret the Destroyer, I will bring pain to the the Great One. Then again, maybe I won't.

I like to think that instead of Margaret being a character from a children's book (which I haven't read), Randy's portraying the Antichrist, Margaret Thatcher. Like, after she was done killing the British workers and also the Irish, she decided to be direct and go kill God.


Anyway, this is totally just an Art As Framework (aka "could be a tweet") comic spread out over four panels.  It's a decent joke and I think most people would recognize the opening lines, but the art really fails to add anything. Props to Randy for trying though, even if it failed. Dramatic zoom-ins just don't work with stick figures (see: #631). The dramatic silhouette kinda works, but even that comes off more like a parody of distant silhouette shots than an honest attempt at drama (albeit ironic drama).

This joke would work better if the joke was that stick figures can't do dramatic facial expressions. Instead of the speech being an originally non-threatening thing that's made threatening, it'd be the reverse, intentionally milking the inability of a completely blank face to show emotion.

This review was written at 3 AM.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1543 - Team Effort

Given the role they play in every process in my body, really, they deserve this award more than me. Just gotta figure out how to give it to them. Maybe I can cut it into pieces to make it easier to swallow ...

Praise Allah for ending the streak of 'could be a tweet' comics. I was totally foolish enough to think it continued it, but nope! The speech is too long to fit in twitter's 140 character limit, and he'd have to begin it with "*receiving my Oscar*" or something to that effect.

However! The art still isn't as good as it could and should be. There should definitely be a panel where she's being lowered onto the stage or whatever (I don't watch The Oscars). It'd bring us more into the The Oscars mindset, which would result in more humor when the joke hits.

I could be a jerk and say like "and let's be honest here, that joke needs all the help it can get", but it's not actually that bad. The ending "real team effort" line makes me think that Randy knows that it's essentially a "hey, science!" thing, and it brings out the absurdity of someone thanking their bacteria. It's still not a great joke (I'm aware that my saying that is even more subjective than usual) though.

I also like the use of the word "writhing". It's a really nice image.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1542 - Scheduling Conflict

Neither a spokesperson for the organization nor the current world champion could be reached for comment.

Maybe I should do like CinemaSins and just ring a bell every time the same problem happens. Like "Ding! Could be a tweet. Ding! Unoriginal joke."

And this totally is one of the worst examples of both. Like if I was a reviewer that did a lot of swearing and angry, this would be a review to give Mark Reads Twilight a run for its money.

The comic is five words. Don't let the "NSCC 2015" under the headline fool you! That might as well be those scribbles meant to represent text, it has no impact on the (unoriginal, goddamn boring) joke. Even if it was a tweet, it'd be sub-par.

The joke is a worse version of that old joke "The procrastination club's first meeting keeps getting postponed", which, although old, is funny because it has a self referentialness to it. The procrastination club's meeting is being postponed because they are putting it off, or procrastinating. With this comic, we do not know why the national scheduling conflict championships have been canceled. We can assume it's because there were scheduling conflicts, but we don't know that. It could have been because it's a stupid thing to hold a championships for. If that was the reason listed in the comic, that would have been funnier, because it would have subverted the reader's expectation that it was canceled because of scheduling conflicts. Changing the kind of championships that's canceled doesn't change the joke; "Kickboxing Championships Canceled" has the exact same impact on the reader.

I understand that people have bad days, days where they're just not "on". I wouldn't expect anyone to have constant A-game. Even Mike Oldfield, the greatest person who will ever exist, once played a wrong note*. But this comic is just crap. It's clear just from looking at it that very, very little thought and effort went into it, and I find that disappointing.

*On The Orchestral Hergest Ridge, during his classical guitar solo, but that was only because he'd had a day full of interviews and could only do one take and had never played classical guitar or been conducted before.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1541 - Voice

Anyway, we should totally go watch a video story or put some food in our normal mouths!

He totally got the idea for this (perhaps subconsciously, but still) from the first Animorphs book, where Tom, being controlled by a Yeerk, asks Jake to come to The Sharing and Tom manages to make his face all scared for a second to try and get Jake not to go. Man, The Animorphs was awesome. I should read through it again sometime.

I don't find this funny. I think it's like, interesting, but it doesn't really feel like a joke to me. It's more like Randy's just presenting an idea than using that idea to make a joke. What's the punchline supposed to be? Or, failing that, what's the climax?

If I was XKCD's editor, I might have added in a second bit where we zoom in on Ponytail's head. We'd find out that an alien isn't possessing Ponytail, it's Ponytail that's keeping an alien trapped in her head! Dun-dun-duuun! Which, as it turns out, was also done in Animorphs, by the [SPOILER], so I guess we all lose at the originality game today.

If it seems like that review ended abruptly, it's because I couldn't think of anything else to say.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1540 - Hemingway

Instead of bobcat, package contained chair.

More like "HemingGAY" if you ask me!!!
-me, if I was Mark Prindle

I really like the idea behind this. For one, it makes fun of "For Sale: Baby's Shoes, Never Worn", which is well known, short, and therefore ideal for this type of comic. For another, it makes fun of "For Sale: Baby's Shoes, Never Worn" which I've never really thought was as good as everyone (read: my awful 7th grade English teacher) made it out to be. Like, it might as well be "A Baby Died", which is half as long as "FSBSNW" and therefore twice as good.

But I'm not here to discuss six word stories, I'm here to discuss Christian alt rock band Switchfoot!

Well, after listening to every song they've ever recorded, let me tell you... they suck!

Now, with that out of the way, allow me to get a little off topic and talk about the latest XKCD comic: Hemingway.

It's nice that there's a variety of jokes in here, if you don't get one (looking at you, third one from the bottom) you can just move down to the next. However, the recurring 'Hemingway didn't actually write the story' is annoying and doesn't build like a recurring joke should. It's like Randy wants to show off that he knows more than us. Plus, it's weird to see Hemingway's name in the last line after being told three times that he didn't write it.

The text-only format is annoying too, I can imagine this working really well if every line had a single panel commentary of sorts. Like for "For Sale: Baby's Shoes, Just Hatched", there could be an uncomfortable guy holding shoes, drippy with egg fluid, saying "We don't know what laid them.". And for "This Weird Trick Covers Baby Feet!", there could be every Buzzfeed employee being brutally murdered because that's what they all deserve. I could swear that XKCD has even used this multiple caption/panel format before, but I'm drawing a blank. It's possible I'm thinking of Bug Martini.

That said, I did enjoy this comic, definitely way more than every other text-only comic we've seen.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1539 - Planning

[10 years later] Man, why are people so comfortable handing Google and Facebook control over our nuclear weapons?

Huh, that's weird. Randy's agreeing that Google and Facebook have too much control over our lives? I really didn't see that one coming. I could have sworn he was pro-internet pretty much across the board. But no, ShortHair doesn't actually rebut Ponytail at all, the argument is more that we should just accept it.

More familiar is the really annoying way ShortHair responds to Ponytail's sentence with a paragraph. Imagine if people in real life talked like that as much as they do in XKCD, every other conversation would turn into a full on debate. Horrible! It'd be like tumblr in the real world, except without the porn and children's cartoons and porn of children's cartoons.

As usual with these kinds of comics, the best possible result is "agreement chuckles", which are to actual laughter what half a shoe is to a full steak meal. (The worst possible result is, of course, this blog)

In other news, Questionable Content has been pretty lame recently, and The Webcomics Review has been doing a great job of a running commentary. Check it out! It's good!


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1538 - Lyrics

That's a really bad way to represent hard-to-understand lyrics. Since the text is edited and cut up, it looks more like Randy's trying to show manipulated vocals, like in the beginning of Radiohead's "Everything In Its Right Place" or Skrillex's "With You, Friends (Long Drive)". Instead of editing the text like that, he should have written the words as mostly gibberish, and placed the music notes over as well as around them.

Also if you can relate to this comic you are a total pleb. REAL music fans can instantly understand entire albums full of the most horribly slurred lyrics ever, even if there's three vocal tracks going at once and they're all in different languages.

I kid of course, but it's kinda odd to hear someone imply that they can never understand song lyrics. Like, I could totally get someone having no idea what Michael Stipe is saying in "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)", but like, all songs? Seriously? Is that radio tuned to a station in Germany?


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1547 - Types

colors.rgb("blue") yields "#0000FF". colors.rgb("yellowish blue") yields NaN. colors.sort() yields "rainbow"

I've got nothing. This joke is so far beyond me, it's making colorful metaphors about how beyond me it is.

I do not know programming. Anyone who does, as always, should feel free to comment and tell me why I'm an idiot (in this specific instance, not just in general).

Some uneducated thoughts:
It's text only, which is lame, but I think drawing this all out into panels would actually be a worse choice, dragging it out and defusing the joke. Also it's not short enough to be a tweet so it gets a pass on that as well.
This is one of the few cases of Randy not using setup that I completely understand. Who on Earth would want to learn even coding just so they can get a single XKCD comic?
It feels like there's a progressive escalation of the awfulness of the fake programming language, which I feel like I appreciate.

Essentially, this appears to be a fairly well done comic that I do not get at all and have no interest in getting.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1536 - The Martian

First post written on an iPhone, let's do this.

It's always been weird to me to see characters (used in a loose sense here) like Beret, or in this case, White Hat, appearing outside of their traditional roles. I keep trying to read this as White Hat in his straw man self, like how you read text in a higher voice if it's a caption under a picture of Mickey Mouse. But nope, it really does seem like he's just supposed to be Person B in a dialogue and nothing else. >shrug emoticon goes here<

I wonder if being mentioned in XKCD will turn out to have given The Martian notably higher box office numbers than it would have had otherwise.

It's nice that Randy's being self deprecating, but it's mostly ruined by how the joke just kinda flounders for two extra lines. Instead of the punch line being the end, the dialogue continues on as if nothing's happened. It's like Randy's just trying to write a conversation that happens to have a funny bit in it, rather than making the funny part the focal point.

In conclusion, I graduated high school.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1535 - Words For Pets

Seventh year: Perfectly coherent words, but in the pet's language, not mine.

For some reason I'm vaguely surprised by the implication that Randy has a pet.

Now, aside from my usual thing about how graphs are the most logical and direct way to get an idea across and are therefore not generally suited for telling jokes:
This is obviously supposed to be a semi-relatable comic, but I don't know anyone at all who does this. I've had my cat for at least five years now, and I still call her by her name or just "You". Same thing with my friend Jamie and her cat (and her parents and their cats and her brother's dog), my cousin Morgan and her cat, and


What if Randy was actually talking about a BDSM type pet? Wouldn't that be so fucked? Imagine Randall Munroe, creator of XKCD, in a leather suit and holding a whip, and having someone on all fours in front of him. And then he's all like "Now... majajaaduffad... it is time for your punishment.", because it's like humiliating for him to not remember the person's name or whatever?


Also, it looks kinda weird for the oval to suddenly go to the side in the last iteration. I'd have had the red bubble sliding horizontally rather than vertically, so that the graph didn't need to be re-centered.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1534 - Beer

Mmmm, this is such a positive experience! I feel no social pressure to enjoy it at all!

Jesus Christ, imagine if you invited someone to a party and they actually acted like this. I bet Randy's the type of person who tries to talk about the social ramifications of the pizza he's eating, too.

But, interestingly enough, there's actually a scientific explanation for why people think different things taste good: You're going to have a predisposition for things that your mother ate while she was pregnant with you. So if your mom ate a lot of potatoes, you might like vodka more. So, no, Randy, we do not all taste things the same way. Many people, I am told, enjoy the taste of beer. Not me, though, I'm an appletini guy.

And even if everyone did actually secretly hate the taste of beer, I think that beer has a slightly better sell than the taste; namely, that it gets you drunk.

I find it really telling that Randy's projecting a part of his worldview onto everyone else, that seems like a really self-centered way to think. It's kinda funny that Hair is supposed to be kind of a douchebag type person, when in making this comic, Randy's done a way more douchebaggy thing.


XKCD Is Funny - #1533 - Antique Factory

WARNING: This item was aged by the same inexorable passage of time that also processes nuts.

Yo, what's up with the weird cropping on this comic? Look, the outside borders are noticeably clipped compared to the between-panel borders.

That being said, I actually think this is hilarious, like this actually got a laugh out of me. I don't think that's ever happened with a Beret comic before. The setup is to-the-point, the punchline isn't over-labored, and the art adds naturally to the joke.

I really like how Beret isn't over-the-top at all. He's actually downright understated! He's not supernaturally evil for no reason, he's not 'random', he's just going to his bizarre job the way a normal person would go to their job at JobCo.

The comic even leaves out that that "XKCD speak" I've complained about before, where everything reads like a Wikipedia article. I do think that the setup is probably a little too to-the-point, though. Beret just saying "antique factory" the way someone would say "Starbucks" just doesn't gel right with me. "antique factory" isn't the name of a store, there should totally be an "An" at the front of that.

I'm sure someone's pointed this out before me, but I just noticed that Beret's hat makes his head look like an acorn.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1532 - New Horizons

Last-minute course change: Let's see if we can hit Steve's house.

I like how this comic is kinda like the same joke as #809, but better. Instead of the joke being "what if someone fucked up... and then they had to redo the calculations!", it's "what if someone fucked up and wasted billions of government dollars?". Unfortunately, the comic doesn't really empathize that, awkwardly leaving the comic at something closer to just "what if someone fucked up?". There should at least be a mention of how much money it took to get these images.

The reveal also seems kinda slow to me. I think Randy focused a little too much on drawing it semi-realistically and slow paced, instead of focusing on making the reader suddenly realize "that's not pluto!" in one or two panels.

I will say, though, it was a really nice touch having the chick say "take that, Dawn team" in panel 1. But, it was a really bad touch to have their heads shaped like that, the guy looks like his face is straight-up melting.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1531 - The BDLPSWDKS Effect

This well-known effect has of course been replicated in countless experiments.

"The Budlup swa-dicks effect". Christ, what an unwieldy title. Makes ""...not something intended to make you feel good."" seem downright reasonable.

Now, I get the joke is that all those words have reasonable meanings if you put "effect" after each of them, like The Doppler Effect is something something perception of light something something was on The Big Bang Theory once. And I get that Randy is combining them all to make something that would never actually be experienced.

Je comprends. Je aussi prend que Randy est une imbecile. Mon aĆ©roglisseur est plein d'anguilles.

On top of having the "art as framework that has no real effect on the joke" thing going on, this is one of the least accessible jokes I think I've ever seen. How many people can really claim to get this? And worst of all, it doesn't even seem to be worth getting. The effects pile on top of each other in an over-the-top mess, much like a poorly-produced shoegaze album. This reads more like a weird 'match column A to column B' thing, match the names to the parts of the effect that they correspond to, see how many you can get.

Also, that does not look like a firetruck. Which is weird, because none of the effects specify a firetruck anywhere in explainxkcd's description of them.