XKCD Isn't Funny - #1745 - Record Scratch & #1746 - Making Friends

Do people actually wonder what a record scratch sound was? I don't even mean "Do people not know what records are?", I mean that by now a record scratch doesn't really mean 'the needle slipped on the record player', it's just the sound effect for a freeze frame. It's like when someone falls off a cliff in a cartoon and a slide whistle plays. It is, as TV Tropes would say, a Stock Sound Effect

This comic doesn't indicate it, but it was directly inspired by a twitter meme. That's why the comic is set up so weird: it's set up like a tweet: caption then image. 

What the comic SHOULD have done is have at least one panel of the guy being approached by the mob, and then a record scratch (with the sound effect in between the panels). Imagine it in your head, isn't that so much better? The way Randy did it, it feels out of order, it's a little bit confusing. 

Also, nitpick: music is still recorded on vinyl discs by hipsters some people, and vinyl sales are still a sizable part of the market. It's not a completely archaic technology as the caption kinda implies. 

So if they're having this conversation, they're friends, right? It doesn't seem to me like a conversation that two people would have as just acquaintances. So wouldn't that mean that Ponytail has already experienced Bald's attempts at friend-making? I don't think this is me being pedantic, I think this is a logical question to ask given the series of events we're presented with.

The fix for the weird paradox isn't even hard, just call attention to it and make that part of the joke. Cyanide & Happiness's "Sad Ending" short gives a good example of how to do it. If a work points out one of its flaws, that flaw is not a flaw that can be held against that work. (The way that the work points out the flaw can be, but let's not get into that now) It's like how you can't criticize Harry Potter for having magic, since that's the premise. They say "In a world where magic is real..." I don't say "Ha! Magic isn't real, your series sucks!", I have to say "Several scenes lose tension due to the lack of clearly defined rules for how magic works, etc."

THAT SAID, I do actually kinda enjoy the described scenario here, even if it is a little silly. It's cute! Just think about people slowly creeping towards a guy with a broken leg, when suddenly - "No one is sure why Uranus has a sideways rotation!" And all the predators halt for a second, and go "Hmm. This guy isn't so bad after all."

If only we had that visually presented to us. Oh well.

[page break]

Yo I'm writing this after watching Love Actually so forgive me if this is a bit sappy, but I wanted to say Happy Holidays to everyone reading this. Your comments honestly do perk me up and I sincerely hope that my Christmas gift to all of you will be a balancing out of my work and my college and my podcast and my music and this blog so I can give you regular updates across the board. 

Also, to the first reader of this post - your present is an iTunes gift card! The code is XVHV685WN9KV7JXP. (Hopefully this time it'll be usable in all countries)

I love you all.

- Greg


XKCD Isn't Funny #1742 - Will It Work? & #1743 - Coffee

I'm gonna have to trust this chart since the farthest I've ever gone down it is the package manager. I am a simple man, and I stick to what I know.

Yo, by the way (real quick) I don't know if this is a well known thing, but I remembered myself figuring it out in fifth grade and being really proud of myself and then my teacher fuckin SHIT on it! So like, the difference between 2^2 and 1^2 is three, (3^2)-(2^2)=5, and 4²-3²=7, and the difference between a square and the next highest square keeps increasing by two. And people get a lot of money when they discover new primes, right? Therefore I can use my thing to keep discovering new squares and become crazy rich, right? Someone hook me up with the email of whoever's in charge of giving out money to maths peoples.

Speaking of math! Back in my science class, I learned how to do graphs and this ain't no good. You gotta have little dashes that show where you are on the scale, even if you're not doing number specific things.

It also feels pretentious to say "code" instead of "program". (It is possible that I am just misunderstanding a difference in terminology) It's like those pretentious guys I've been told exist that say "film" instead of "movie" or "lobster" instead of "instant ramen". Some of us weren't born with a silver screensaver in our mouth, Randy!

There's probably a good joke somewhere in the idea of this comic, but a narrative structure would probably bring it out best. Maybe a guy's scrolling through snapchat or whatever the young kids are into these days, and he sees a code that only needs minimal tweaks, and then he's frustrated when those minimal tweaks turn out to take up years of his life. And that would even be kinda relatable; plenty of people have spent way too long working on something meaningless. The way this comic is presented, it's only relatable to coder people.

I haven't yet experienced this phenomenon, but I've been told (read: heard on a podcast) that there are these people you run into that really make a big deal out of not being able to cook. Like "Oh yeah, I burn water, I can't make cereal", like it's something to be proud of. The "I don't know how to adult" joke has kinda worn thin by this point. I'm all for understanding that we're all fallible humans and we're all just trying our best and all that, I'm less for celebrating not knowing stuff and wallowing in ignorance.

That's me reading too much into the context and whatnot, though. How does the joke stand up outside me whining about what the kids are doing these days? As it turns out, not too bad! Total is usually worth a chuckle,  and it is kinda neat in a gross-out way to see the chick horribly misinterpret the concepts involved in making coffee.

However, there are two huge Missed Opportunities in this comic. For one, it'd be way better if we saw them reading from a wikihow article or a cookbook or something. "Step 1: Poor the coffee grounds" and they just poor it out on to the floor. Ha!

The second M.O. (Mike Oldfield) is that we don't see the guests. This whole comic gains an extra dimension of sitcom hilarity if we have their guests are just in the other room, hearing these not-coffee-making sounds. Extra bonus points if we get to see the coffee actually being served, which makes the concept that people are going to drink this stuff more real and therefore more horrible and therefore more funny.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1740 - Rosetta & #1741 - Work

So the chick is all incredulous right in front of him, and he still believes her when she goes with it? It's also not clear that the other chick is whispering to her in the last panel, so it looks like he's just being willfully delusional.

Also, I am 100% not sold on this being a space center. I've never been in one, but I've been in a government type place once, and that shit had three television screens, on top of twenty-something computers. This isn't a dorm room, with a pair of laptops and a pair of desks, it's like NASA or some shit.

I like this comic, but I think it's kinda funny that the scene from his life he chose to show was just "plain drawer-less table with single lamp and cup of water". It might have come off a bit better if there had just been close-ups on individual objects. Or he could have gone the other way, and had a more zoomed-out shot of a room, with one caption per item.

This comic does retread #277 a bit, but it's okay because 1) it's been like eight years c'mon and 2) it's a notable improvement, no preachy author-inserts to be found. And it's just a cool thing to note, y'know? Isn't that the beauty of humanity, our ability to put passion into the corporate, to create meaning from meaninglessness, to argue emotionally about tiny, insignificant things?

I'd also like to point out that this comic also reflects the process that brings you this blog. Every individual word must be agreed upon and triple-proofread by me and all five of my consultnats.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1738 - Moon Shapes & #1739 - Fixing Problems

I'd like to point out that #4 depends on the viewing angle. Imagine you're laying down in a field, looking up. You see the moon like it's #3, but if you rotate your body around, you can see it like it's #4.

Also, #5 is still possible, right? It's just improbable, it should at least get a half checkmark.

It kinda annoys me that Randy decided to caption this "Interpreting the shape of the moon in art". Art doesn't have to be realistic, man! The fact that The Starry Night isn't astronomically accurate doesn't devalue it, it enhances it. The comic should have been captioned "A guide to drawing the moon realistically" or something like that.

#8 brings up an interesting thought: How much human habitation would it take for the light they generate to become visible from Earth? 'Cause the light we generate in cities is visible from near space, right? So it's like vica versa. Also how bright are nuclear explosions from space, realistically?

Anyway this comic isn't a joke, but it isn't really informational either. Like, doesn't everyone pretty much already know this? 90% of the time someone draws moon #6, it's just stylization. This comic really just comes off like Randy complaining that other people don't have the same standards that he does. NEXT!

This is just like that other comic, except without everything that made it good. With that comic, we saw the development of those problems, we felt his exasperation at the exponential disaster that was his computers, and then we got some decent art stuff at the end. This is just a tweet with art slapped on to call it a comic. The recursive phrase suddenly ending out midway is even a regular twitter joke thing (although I'm unable to find any examples at the moment). 


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1736 - Manhatten Project & #1737 - Datacenter Scale

Work's been pretty busy for me, it being December and all, so when my shift ended I headed over to McDonald's. And for whatever reason it took FOREVER to go through the drive-thru. After like, five minutes, I started singing "99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall" and I got to forty-something before I finally got to the window to get my order. But here's the thing: when he handed me my bag, the guy was like "Careful, the fries are hot", which means that all the food was cooked fresh Just For Me. And when I got home it was the best McDonald's I've had since I was a kid. Anyway that's my excuse for being so slow with my updates lately.

This comic is pretty decent! I will openly admit that I chuckled the first time I read it. It has a really good flow; starting with the second panel, the non-dialogue 'montage' panels keep moving things forward (even if they are a little bit silly if you look at them), and then the last panel just brings things STOP, so we get shaken up through the pacing as well as through the narrative. It gives the joke a little extra 'ommph'. Missed opportunity, though: Having all the panels lead the reader's eye rightward through leading lines and such, and then we get a THIRD kind of upset in the flat end of the final panel.

I'm not really sure if the first panel is meant to be just XKCD's typical minimalist no-context starting panels (see the second comic reviewed in this review for example) or if it - and by extension the rest of the comic - are supposed to be making fun of people who say this. Are there people that say we need a Manhattan project to stop cancer? I wish XKCDs didn't have to be interpreted as much as they do, although I am totally bringing it on myself by looking this deep into the abyss.

Also, it's kinda funny that Randy would use such a generic 'TV science' type scene in panel when he's made fun of it in the past.

To quote Hamlet: "Words, words, words". The 'show don't tell' rule probably does get thrown around too much, but it has a point. A guy getting hit in the face with a pie is funnier than reading the sentence "A guy got hit in the face with a pie". This comic is acceptable, but if it was put in a more 'comic' format, it would actually be funny-funny, instead of just conceptually funny. 

That said, I like that there's a quasi- satirical point being made here. (That's a satirical point that's quasi, not a point that's quasi satirical.) Randy is, in his own way, sticking it to the corporations, who are so high up in their ivory towers that human workers are mere pawns to discard, and long-term stability is sacrificed for tiny immediate power grabs. 

Side nitpick thing, but where is this happening? Is this a datacenter CEO conference of some kind? Why is Longhair explaining her business to them if they're all in the business? It doesn't make any sense!


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1734 - Reductionism & #1735 - Fashion Police And Grammar Police

I actually kinda like this one. If we put aside the text only 'could be a tweet' -ness of it, I can get behind it. Since the joke is taking reductionist ideas to their (il)logical conclusion, the joke is self-explanatory enough that you don't need to have knowledge of reductionism going in.

Points are deducted for that SUPER lame explanation of "R", though. At least specify that it's a consonant.

See, the difference is that if someone has really terrible spelling/grammar, I can't understand them.

This comic also has a weird tonal disconnect. It starts off with "judgemental and smug" etc, but then suddenly goes into "appreciate that they way you are interpreted is your responsibility" and "understand...". Then it's "vindictive about... proxies for race", but THEN it swings back to "fun to cheer on". See how they don't really form a united statement?

What I think happened is that Randy started off on one side of the fence, but then thought "hang on, I'm on to something!" and tried to make a short version of a thesis paper on the subject. (Honesty time: I would totally read the full version)

If Randy had picked either "they're both bad" or "they're both good", then that could have been a coherent argument in joke form and I would be able to judge that. As it is, this comic fails to make a concrete statement. Even if it was on one side, the bullet point structure is too direct, almost confrontational, to be comedy without alterations.

I will grant that the original observation is still interesting. However, the real interesting discussion is in how the two groups share root origins or are unconciously operating the same function in different ways. This is the hypothesis, we need the data analysis and conclusion.


Questionable Content - #3350 - A Dream Deferred & #3351 - Requiem For A Dream


I'm absolutely reading too much into these comics, but I feel like there's something very profound here. Pintsize has built up this identity as a sexual pervert, his whole shtick is shock value. We aren't shown the actual asking process that lead to these events, but do you think Pintsize expected May to agree? Now that he gets what he asked for, he finds out it isn't what he wanted. His identity was built around something that he did not actually feel. You can even go back and look at #2332 and do a whole rereading of the QC archives where Pintsize curated this identity out of boredom or spite while he was Marten's only friend. His giving free money to Faye in #430 is motivated by an unconscious but enormous gratitude for someone else to talk to.

Just to restate - he is canonically Marten's only friend for TWO YEARS. That is 730 days! I like my friends and suitemates and etc, but I can't think of anyone I would want to hang out with daily for two whole years without anyone else ever being involved. Like, after a while you run out of House reruns to watch and you've told each other all the puns you know. And Marten sucks! First thing he does when he comes home is complain about his job, and he doesn't even know what HIS CLOSEST FRIEND does when he's not around. Pintsize has to put up with this lame asshole for 17,520 hours!

This idea also fits perfectly with the interpretation of the comic that says Marten's mom is a The Wall-esque overbearing and controlling figure that made him grow up into such a loser. Eventually all the pieces will come together and it will turn out that Jeph accidentally wrote a modern Shakespearean tragedy.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1732 - Earth Temperature Timeline & #1733 - Solar Spectrum

[After setting your car on fire] Listen, your car's temperature has changed before.

Oh, so that's what he was going for with that ice levels comic a while back.

My main problem with this comic as an infographic is that it seems kinda disconnected from itself. Most of the things listed (pottery, writing, Shakespeare), while important to human history, have approximately zero effect on the climate. I understand that it's not Randy's fault that human history is like that - Earth lives on a whole different scale from us - but it still gives us a lot of information that isn't really related to the point he's trying to make. I will say that it's neat to scroll manually through all that history, it's like that solar system distance thing.

I'll also say that, terrible Pokemon joke aside, this comic does a pretty good job of explaining the difference between 'typical' climate change and what people usually mean when they say the phrase "climate change". Speaking as someone that used to have this exact problem (thanks for NOTHING, Michael Crichton!), I think this comic might have converted me to its side.


I, the little guy, am not the person that needs to be convinced. I could work my whole life to destroy as much environment, and I wouldn't fuck things up as much as the big companies do in a day. I don't mean to get all preachy and stuff, but y'know that whole ozone layer thing? They told me in middle school it closed up, but it's still there! We all agree that chlorofluorocarbons caused the big ozone hole (or at least, that's what my astronomy textbook says) but the end goal for phasing them out is still set to 2030! I know that we can't shut everything down overnight, but we've known since the eighties! (According to my astronomy textbook!)

And those big corporation peeps aren't reading XKCD, they're snorting coke off of expensive strippers, since they're all rich and corrupt and rich. So while this comic has nothing but good intentions, it has not succeeded unless it inspires people to go out and do something. It's like that one Chumbawamba song says: "If our music makes you happy or content, it has failed. If our music entertains, but doesn't inspire, it has failed. The music's not a threat. Action the music inspires can be a threat." (that's from the excellent Revolution EP, if you were wondering)

My astronomy class actually explained this to me so I get the joke! And it is a joke, even if it's one that only smart college-educated people like me can understand. 

For you DUMB HICKS, there are like, these spectrum thingies, and the black lines tell you which elements there are in the thing its a spectrum of, BUT THERE AREN'T SUNGLASSES IN THE REAL SUN. It actually lends itself pretty well to this joke, since it puts the sunglasses in the last place that the reader reads (in a traditional western left-to-right style).

This comic would be EXTRA not-bad if "those giant sunglasses" if it was phrased "silicon (for those giant sunglasses" because like, silicon makes glass (and plastic, maybe??) so it'd be scientifically accurate too. That's a nitpick, though, and if we put aside accessibility, I give this one a passing grade.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1730 - Starshade & #1731 - Wrong

Is "Starshade" an intentional Gregor The Overlander reference? 'Cuz that'd actually be pretty cool, especially because "Gregor" is basically my name and it'd therefore almost be a me reference!

Pranks aren't funny if they're nice. Well, that's not true, there can be nice pranks like painting a dome like R2D2 or whatever, but pranks can't be purely beneficial to the recipient. That's a surprise gift, not a prank.

The kinda-funny idea slightly to the left of the core of this comic is that these two people are able to set up the massive space thingy without NASA knowing until its in place. None of the process or action by which this feat is achieved is shown in the comic, and that's just a shame. It still wouldn't be as funny as if they were actually screwing with NASA, but it'd be funnier than just hearing vague descriptions of things happening off-screen.

This one could have been funny if the guy was wrong about something else. Like, can you really blame him for not knowing something about quantum physics? That shit's confusing as hell!

See, for a guy being wrong to be funny, we have to know how he's wrong. So I will give credit where credit might be due and I will admit that if I knew what they heck "particles" were, maybe I would enjoy this. However, I think we can all agree that this joke would be more accessible if he was wrong about something like the digestive process or whatever.

Now, onto the elephant of the room: This comic is almost certainly about the phenomenon known to us poor peoples of 2016 as "mansplaining" which is when a man corrects a woman because of sexism, or something like that. I'm a man so I might be wrong about that but that gives women a chance to womansplain me back and the genders will be equal again so yay!

Randy, as has been established, is a feminist-y type of person. I'm not going to get into the politics since honestly who cares about my poorly-informed opinions? I'll leave the gender debates to my 15-year-old self. I bring the mansplaining thing up because it means that Randy is trying to make a point, and this point is being made very poorly. All we see is a guy deny that he's wrong and then be wrong in a different way, no lesson is taught or learned, the bad guy is not brought down through a pie in the face or a verbal knockout, we just see things As They Are (in Randy's perception).

I've been reading The Naked Jape for the past few days, and there's a chapter that discusses the different theories about why jokes are funny. I won't get into it for space reasons, but basically there are four theories, none of which cover all types of jokes but together they cover pretty much everything. The one thing that all the theories agree on is that for a joke to work, reality has to be at least a little bit altered. That's not to say that all altered reality is funny, just to say that for a joke to be made, reality has to have been altered; all thumbs are fingers but not all rectangles are squares. That's also not to say that real life can't be funny, just that standard real life isn't funny; a guy picking up groceries is not funny on its own, he has to be picking up KY jelly and fruit or have forgotten his pants or whatever.

So, with the previous paragraph in mind, reconsider the comic. If this is just reality As Is, then what's the joke? There isn't one. And we already talked about how there's no point being made, so what's the appeal of this comic? There isn't one.

I want to close on a quick disclaimer. I may have political views, but I do my best to set them aside for this blog. I'm not criticizing Randy for putting forth a feminist statement, I'm criticizing him for putting forth a badly made feminist statement.


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!


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.



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? 


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1704 - Gnome Ann & #1705 - Pokémon Go

My first thing is totally a me-only problem, but I can't help but read things like they're spelled in my head. "Jalapeno" will always be "Ja-la-pen-o" when it's written down. So it took me two readings more than it should have because I kept on reading "Gnome" with the G pronounced. But, like I said, that's just me being an idiot.

This comic is like one of those "word replacements" ones he does sometimes, but with skin. It's actually got images and stuff!

I wish we got a little more understanding of who Gnome Ann is, though. I don't need a full character backstory, but I think it would have been pretty cool to have some explanation for why she has these amazing powers, or some narrative structure to tie the comic together.

Maybe panel 4 could be the first panel, the idea being that she gets her other awesomeness from just being really smart. And then she puts the marriage asunder, makes the wicked flee, she makes time and tide wait for her, and THEN she's grown enough to kill the bad guy. The Star Trek opening bit could be an epilogue thingy.

The comic, as it is, isn't outright bad so much as not actively good. It's kinda neat to see the reinterpretations of famous sayings, but nothing really gets developed enough for me to engage.

This comic, on the other hand, don't make no sense. The person is walking along without their phone, then pulls it out when they see the Pokemon? They wouldn't do that, they'd understand that because they're not seeing the pokemon through their phone, it's not part of the game. Maaaybe they'd try and scan it to see if it activated anything in-game, but they wouldn't be confused because people aren't that stupid.

If the guy had been walking while looking through his phone, that'd be fine. Suddenly a thing you're used to seeing on screen appears on screen but it doesn't work because it's not actually, sure, I can dig it. But that's not what's shown. That's what should be shown, but it isn't.

In conclusion, this comic can pokemon GO AWAY!! hahahhHA!


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1703 - Juno

I wish I'd seen Juno so I could be like "This comic is even worse than Juno!" (I heard it was bad)

This comic couldn't be a tweet (at least without editing), but it's definitely set up like one. The first two panels are just a substitution for the link the the article he'd be riffing on.

The joke itself is perfect for twitter, snarky, short, doesn't make much sense if you think about it. Why would she say that during a press conference? The whole point of a press conference is to not look like an idiot!

This comic should have taken place during the landing. We see the dramatic countdown to landing, the cheers, and then someone checks in. "Hey, we landed on Saturn?" Slowly, the celebration fades. On the display, we see Jupiter's rings up close. Sheepishly, one of the scientists asks "...Saturn?" It'd be a much more dynamic presentation of the same concept. The comic as is has a very static presentation, the visuals are Star Wars Prequel boring, just three people standing doing nothing.

That wouldn't be so bad if the joke was funny, but it's so Twitter throwaway. There should have at least been another joke in the announcement panel to make it seem less like he's just trying to be an alternative news source.


Questionable Content Isn't Funny - #3275 - The Revenant & #3277 - Vengeance

As I'm writing this, it is my birthday, and Jeph Jacques was kind enough to give me the present of a comic that NEEDED to be reviewed by me, even though Jeph Jacques more like Jerk Jacques for blocking me on twitter.

These comics both take place shortly after an intense emotional experience in which Faye almost relapses into alcoholism. This is Serious, and is presented as so in the first two panels of #3277 and the comic preceding #3275. But then things suddenly go off the rails and the humor gets cartoony. 

I want to make it clear: Humor is great as a coping mechanism for the self and for others. One time after a friend told me about their history of self-harm, I made this dumb joke about a person I saw out the window, and it cut the tension and we were able to relax a little. But we didn't suddenly burst into a pun-off, the mood was still down. My friend didn't even Laugh laugh, he did a kind of exhale and he smiled a little. 

Now, I can believe that a person can genuinely make jokes in times of emotional crises - I'm a guy who made jokes about the redness of my throat while I was throwing up bleach - but I can't believe that another person is just going to jump right in and add on to the jokes. Martin is supposed to be Faye's best (?) friend, he should still be concerned about her enough to impair his humor.

With the second comic, I don't know if it's reasonable for the illegal robot fighting place to have a furnace, but I do know that it's not reasonable to reforge glass after smashing it. The reveals in panels 1, 2, & 4 are all sweet on their own, but put together they just become over the top. I understand that the steadily escalating thing is a standard joke format, but it's one that works best in settings without consequences. Squidward can get away with trying to run Spongebob over with a steamroller, Hal would go to jail if he did that to Dewey

If Bubbles was making a joke, like she was trying to reassure Faye using humor, this comic would be okay. As it is, nothing we see gives us any indication that she's being anything but serious. This is a weird course of action for someone as serious as Bubbles. 


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1702 - Home itch Remedies

This comic should have just ended in the second panel. Cut out the fourth line of dialogue, too. The funniest (and truest) part of the comic is "I just want sympathy".

Maybe it's just because I live in the northeast where everyone just hates things all day, but are weird home remedies actually a widespread phenomenon? I can't think of a single example I've seen in my life, at least not for bug bites. Hiccups, sure, because it's always fun to get your friends to hurt themselves, but not bug bites.

I think Randy thinks that any exaggeration is inherently funny. It can't just be "rub a mixture of honey and syrup on it" it has to be this impossibly elaborate thing. Just like every good lie has a little bit of truth, every good joke still reflects reality. This exaggeration goes too far out of the bounds of normalcy and becomes meaninglessly absurd.


XKCD Isn't Funny - #1700 - New Bug & #1701 - Speed And Danger

I swear I can almost see the thought process that went into this. Randy was working on some code thing and he encountered a bug. Suddenly, inspiration strikes, and he begins writing comic #1700. But the only way he could think to make it funny was to exaggerate the wackiness of the bug he had. And then he didn't exaggerate it enough. Wacky would be "I keep intercepting private CIA communications" or "the screen turns green if I use the microwave". it's not "server crashes user password URL". BOR-ing.

Speaking of boring computer junk, I'm really surprised that computer crashes weren't put on the list. I don't know if it was an intentional avoidance of a cliche or if Randy just didn't think of it but either way I feel this comic is weaker for it.

This comic, as is, is pointless. It's definitely not funny. What the fuck is the joke? That faster crashes are more dangers than slower crashes? Yeah, I think most people who know what vehicles are know that, so it can't be educational either. Computers would at least add another dimension to the comic. 

Another thing this comic is missing is "normal cars". Also maybe "Mario Karts". This graph is so threadbare compared to the graphs I have come to expect from XKCD.