Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bad, Bad Jokes, and Many of Them

I want to talk about bad comments for a minute, because in all likelihood, the Duds section of the Daily Roundups will be going away soon. Frankly, I'm spending way too much time in a given week thinking about shuttledik and sacoplenty.

The way I see it, there are many different kinds of bad comments. A sampling could include the following:

  • BFDNBNF comments, in which the commenter makes no attempt at humor;
  • Rent-a-jokes, in which the commenter drops either a picture, or a video, or a line of dialogue or text from someone else's creation, in the hopes that other readers will, I don't know, share in the laugh;
  • What I like to call Dark Matter jokes, in which the commenter parses the content of a post to oblivion in the desperate hopes of assembling something recognizable from a hopeless recontextualization;
  • Tacky Gross-Out jokes, in which the commenter clumsily references porn, death, etc. in the hopes of shocking the reader into a laugh;
  • Roadkill Memes, in which a long-dead or otherwise tapped-out meme is resurrected in a wholly unoriginal way
Obviously, that's not a comprehensive list. And I'm not trying to suggest that all bad comments have to be fundamentally or structurally inappropriate; many a perfectly fine concept has landed with an echoing thud for being hastily constructed, poorly worded, grammatically butchered, or otherwise poorly finessed before the submit button is pressed. In short, a comment is more likely to be not-good than good.

Gross-out jokes are a good example of this probability, because care in the creation of the joke is so key to its success; a well-made, cleverly delivered gross-out joke will bring the house down, whereas a poorly constructed or heavy-handed one might actually draw jeers. The amount of grossness is not necessarily even a factor in determining whether or not the joke will succeed. A joke comparing Roseanne Barr's menstrual cycle to the yearly hatching of crabs on Christmas Island will not necessarily be judged by whether or not people get the reference; the same concept will be delivered very differently by Eddie Murray Sparkles versus, say, shuttledik. (However, in this case, it's helpful to note that no one anywhere could make a good joke from that setup.)

The nature of Deadspin commenting is that there's a running clock on every post, and you, the improv comic, have to try to get your thought down in comment form before the crowd's attention is diverted to the next post. Many a new or untalented commenter will take the raw thought that springs to mind upon reading the post and pop it down in a new thread, and this is where the vast majority of really bad comments come from, and also why you'll hear the word "lazy" more than any other when duds are criticized. Obscure or luke-warm jokes are forgiven, but lazy, sloppy, carelessly constructed jokes drive me absolutely crazy.

The ratio of good jokes to not-so-good jokes is heavily tilted in favor of not-so-good jokes, but that's okay, it's to be expected. The ratio of good jokes to bad jokes ought to be about even, with perhaps a slight tilt in favor of the bad. Lately, however, it seems like a few select unstarred commenters (I'm looking at you, priestinacloset1) are flooding the site with truly bad comments, comments that do not belong. I call these kids trolls because that's essentially what they're doing; there's no way they can think these comments are appropriate for Deadspin, and yet they drop them in nearly every single thread, every day. Frankly, they're out-hustling me. I can't keep up.

A return of the comment_ninja and/or FAILBOT would help tremendously, but in the meantime, I'm going to have to stick to truly egregious, uniquely horrible comments for the Duds portion of the daily roundups. Any number of infuriatingly lazy comments will have to go unaccounted for. My hope is that the average daily roundup will not have to include any duds, and might even include more favorites, as I expend less energy accumulating a daily list of excrement.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday Roundup

Some favorites and a few duds from Wednesday's commenting.

, in no particular order:

All Over But The Sharting got things going today with a wonderful long-form joke in the Stepped On Perfect Game post. Nobody on Deadspin does those long, meandering jokes as well as he does.

Gamboa Constrictor had a nice day, first bringing the house down in the otherwise terrible Bow Tie post with his outrageous dig at Jason Whitlock. Later, his politics one-liner was good for a laugh in the College Dunk Contest post.

Same Sad Echo had me chuckling with his simple-yet-hilarious peacemaking in the Jose Canseco post. That's a very straightforward joke, but it saves the payoff until the very last word, for maximum effect, and I love it.

Total Fucking Duds

(This list is getting longer and longer. It may be time to revisit whether it should exist at all; frankly, I'm running out of synonyms for "terrible".)

ToddReesingsTurfFacial has been clamoring for a spot on this list for weeks and weeks. Well, here it is, for his contribution to the Wake Up Deadspin post. Not only is that a terrible joke, it's also a chicken-shit way of backing out on the joke without rethinking or redacting it. He hasn't made a good comment in ages, but this is beneath even him.

The Entire Presidential Bracket Thread gets a mention here, for being one long, depressing example of the Deadspin commentariat at its absolute worst. Drew's piece was just fine, the comments are uniformly abysmal. I would link to it, but I'm afraid my blog would lite on fire immediately.

Unstarred disaster shuttledik really went above and beyond today, conspicuously befouling a number of otherwise fine comment threads throughout the day. First, his two part failure of a photoshop in the Boxing Photo post. Later, for utterly inexplicable reasons, he felt the need to resubmit the same bad photoshop job in the Cavs/Heat post. Not yet content with the ruin he'd wrought, he dropped this thing in the Scott Raab post. This guy has to be the worst active commenter on Deadspin.

In the Bow Tie thread, unstarred commenter Jake Locker's Locker was kind enough to drop in a movie clip referencing, you guessed it, bow ties. Thanks for that.

Unstarred commenter Paolo.Lex's Miami Heat/hooker joke (in the Timberwolves Tickets post) was just a random opportunity to go for a cheap shock laugh. I hate, hate, hate that kind of joke. Sometimes, getting a gasp is as good as getting a laugh, but the joke has to be based on something from the post or something in reality. This was neither.

Unstarred commenter Wolfsheim was bitch-slapped by fellow unstarred commenter Street_Justice for reciting, word for word, a line from a television show, in the Timberwolves Tickets post. I'm not normally for one commenter slapping down another one for a bad joke, but this didn't even rise to the level of being a joke; it was just a lazy recitation of someone else's humor.

And finally, otherwise solid unstarred commenter snoop-a-loop got really carried away with some sort of poorly conceived long-form internet fraud joke in the Jose Canseco post, and wound up having to apologize for it. He's normally a good commenter, and I suppose there's something to be said for having the nerve to try something so outrageous, but he really should have reconsidered before hitting submit.

I'll have a post later today about the future of the "Duds" section of this daily feature.

For now, hey, have a wonderful DUAN.

Profiles in Commenting: Hatey McLife

Or: From Hell's Heart, He Stabs At Thee

Commenter Profile Link: Hatey McLife
Commenter Style: One-liner-y, ice cold, savage, spartan

I want to talk some more about structure, about how the creator of a joke (or the teller of a story) leads the reader/listener, through timing and syntactical/grammatical choices, to the exact point where the punchline (in the case of a joke) or the meaning (in the case of a story) can be delivered with maximum impact - or, how the creator/teller doesn't do that.  I also want to talk about degree-of-difficulty, and self-discipline, and consistency in a persona.

I like to think about exactly when and how a joke delivers its laugh. Let's take a look at this comment from Bevraj of Choice in a recent thread.  As commenter SavetoFavorites notes among its many complimentary replies, it's a stripped-down, clockwork-perfect example of premise-setup-punchline humor.  The first two lines do their work of setting our expectations, and then the third line subverts them.  If you're like me, there was the tiniest little cognitive beat (maybe so brief that it couldn't have been measured) between the reading of the third line, and the laugh: in a fraction of an instant, your brain goes back and pulls up that first line again, along with the picture being captioned, and re-interprets "under the bridge guy" in a new context, and then you're laughing.

That's an example of a joke that fairly helpfully leads you along to the laugh: it walks you to the spot, makes sure you're facing the right direction, and then hits you with the funny. In that regard, it is also an example of the kind of joke that Hatey McLife does not make.

There are lots of one-liner specialists on Deadspin. Eddie Murray Sparkles and Steve U, the site's top two commenters these days, both deal primarily in one-liners. One-liners, in general, tend to be a more austere brand of joke, given the limits their form imposes on their creator's ability to carefully set things up. Many very good one-liner-type jokes have a distinct kind of timing, where you read (or hear) the line, and then there's a pause (like in Bevraj's comment from above, this pause can be very brief) while you sort of retroactively assemble the setup in your head, and then everything clicks into place and you laugh. That's very different from the way a joke with a more developed setup works, where you're primed to laugh as soon as the punchline hits.

Still, even among the one-liners, many of Hatey's comments - including a healthy number of his very best ones - qualify as extremely austere. If you think of a joke as a little mental vacation, then one like this one from AzureTexan, with its generous setup, fundamental silliness, and vivid imagery, is an all-expenses-paid trip to Disney World; this one from Hatey, on the other hand, is like being air-dropped onto the lower foothills of Mount Everest with nothing but a pair of cleats and a windbreaker. You will get to the laugh or you will not, but you will be alone in either case, and if you freeze to death along the way, Hatey will not care.

That's not a criticism, either - and this is where persona, and disciplined maintenance of a persona, come into play. Hatey's whole thing, from his handle to his avatar, to the blurb ("Hatey McLife was shat out of hell.") that was his ever-present status in the pre-redesign days when user pages had statuses, to the extreme stinginess with which he hands out promotions and +1s and so forth, to his general non-participation in that casual after-hours cocktail party that is DUAN, is of a piece with his persona as an ice-cold, razor-sharp, merciless machine pumping out ice-cold, razor-sharp, merciless jokes. The only times that persona breaks up at all are those rare occasions when one of his comments contains an obvious error in spelling, grammar, or syntax - and those occasions are noticeable, sharply dissonant, and a little bit disorienting: Hatey is not human and therefore should not make human mistakes.

That persona and its consistency help to make Hatey's acidic one-liners effective, in a way that they might not be if another commenter made them. This is something we'll get much more into whenever I get around to profiling MarkKelsosMigraine, David Hume, and others, but with Hatey as well, familiarity with a commenter's body of work impacts how you respond to new additions to it. MKM's once-in-a-blue-moon "olive oil voice and guinea charm" jokes, for example, pull off the seeming paradox of being funniest to those who are most familiar with them - it's easy to imagine that, to those who haven't seen them popping up here and there for such a long time, the warm and appreciative response they get every single time they appear might seem confounding. Hell, they might not seem funny at all - worse, they might seem like norbizness-y crap, a quote for its own sake.

That dynamic is at play with Hatey as well. His best comments are plenty funny all on their own, but part of what makes them work for those who are familiar with him is the high-wire he-did-it-again! response. That's just the nature of things: it also explains why, the more time you spend reading Deadspin comments, the more you want to punch norbizness in the face.

Depending on your perspective, you can see Hatey's approach as containing either an incredibly high degree-of-difficulty, or a shamefully low one. You can admire his ability to deliver biting humor in such tiny, economical packages; to relate the content of an article to some far-flung reference via a twist of language that transforms it into something ghoulish, or mean, or depraved, or shocking; to have continued doing this at a fairly consistently high level for years and years - or, you can see the austerity of his typical comment as a sign of laziness, a stubborn refusal to put care into packaging his jokes in a way that makes them as genuinely funny as they are challenging and dark; you can wish that he focused as much attention toward making you laugh as he seemingly does toward making you gasp "Jesus Christ!"

You can treasure Hatey or you can roll your eyes at him. You can also be sure that he doesn't give a fuck.

Commenter Rating (out of five stars): ««««

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Roundup

Some favorites and a few duds from Tuesday's commenting.

, in no particular order:

Unstarred commenter Rare Endangered Vuvuzela checked in for the second day in a row with a hilariously silly bit of clueless braggery in the Soccer Girl Video post. For his efforts, his comment was promoted.

In the Shawn Marion Finger post, don't_forget_where_you_came_from_cheese_mac cracked me up with an off-beat courtroom transcript. He's been terrific lately.

In the same post, Eddie Murray Sparkles put down an early Comment of the Year candidate with this typed response from Shawn Marion himself. This is the kind of thing he does that almost no one else can do; he thinks of these things, and then he has the talent to pull it off. Amazing job.

Also from the Shawn Marion Finger post, Steve U got to the concept of recontextualizing Shawn Marion's quote before anyone else, and did it better anyway. I laughed heartily at this.

Last but not least, unstarred commenter AlbertIngallsThugLife cracked me up with a joke referencing the climatic incongruity of hockey in Texas, in the Hockey Brawl post. Great job. For his efforts, his comment was promoted.

Total Fucking Duds

Terrible unstarred commenter and Deadspin troll priestinacloset1 befouled the Soccer Girl Video post with an incredibly lazy joke. To his credit, at least he attempted a joke this one time.

Also in the Soccer Girl Video post, unstarred commenter sir-pantsless was last in line to take the low-hanging fruit, overcooked it, and fell flat on his face. It's always better to read through the comments before leaving one, especially if you're going for the obvious joke.

Fucking norbizness. Really? That's the best you can do? A fucking Futurama quote? A completely unadorned, unedited Futurama quote? How in the hell has this guy not had his neck snapped by now?

I'm no longer sure it's okay to pick on shuttledik. This guy might be . . . umm . . . handicapped. There is no other way to explain this comment. There's just no way any person of normal intelligence could spend any amount of time reading Deadspin comments and think this comment is in any way appropriate.

That FavreFail promoted this comment, from unstarred commenter Big Jim Slade, is utterly beyond explanation. FF should have his star removed immediately. Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules? [norbizness'ed]

In the Purdue Basketball post, unstarred commenter SpiritusMundi had his ass handed to him by an irritated (and newly starred) Cyrus_the_virus for an inexcusably lazy comment.

And finally, from the High School Hockey post, starred commenter nightelfmohawk got carried away with the slashies, which is a rather conspicuous way of highlighting an otherwise forgettable, useless comment. Nothing irritates me more than a bad, lazy, non-joke comment from a starred commenter.

Along those lines, just a technical note: I don't necessarily weigh bad comments from unstarred commenters the same as bad comments from featured commenters. Them's the breaks. Starred commenters should not be leaving foul-smelling detritus in non-DUAN posts. A lame, lazy, clumsy, unfunny comment from a featured commenter is a blight on the site itself, and there's no hiding it.

Hey, happy DUANing.

Monday Roundup

Some favorites and a few duds from Monday's commenting:

, in no particular order:

OnTheTwelfthNightOfLloydChristmas had a terrific Brady Bunch reference/pun in the Bulging Dick post, which seemed to draw a handful of useless, stupid comments. Good job, there.

Unstarred commenter Rare Endangered Vuvuzela checked in with a clever, funny silver bullet joke in the Teen Wolf post. He had a couple promoted comments on Monday.

All Over But The Sharting earned a chuckle with a clever John Calipari/The Devil's Advocate comparison in the Scarface post. Later, I laughed at his taunting of Redskins fans in the Dead Soccer Fan post.

Eddie Murray Sparkles drew a guilty laugh with his insensitive shot at Frank Beamer in the Scarface post. Simple, but effective.

And finally, don't_forget_where_you_came_from_cheese_mac made me guffaw loudly when he referenced an abysmal failure of a comment by Billy Clyde Puckett, both in the Dead Soccer Fan post.

Total Fucking Duds (strap in, there are many)

Unstarred commenter Ram-Sacked was kind enough to point out that someone's name is different-sounding, in the Bruce Pearl Twitter post. Guh-hyuk.

I don't know what the hell norbizness was thinking with this turd in the Bruce Pearl Twitter post, but it sure as hell isn't funny. A joke that includes "e.g." anywhere in the text is doomed to fail.

A Pimp Named DaveR
earned a +1 from someone with severe brain damage for a DOA Civil War joke in the VCU Riots thread. What a clunky, lazy, hair-brained sack of crap that comment is.

Someone named Starburied whiffed badly with some overcooked word-salad in the VCU Riots thread. I extracted more meaning from Serene Branson's stroke-talk.

Unstarred commenter BROnaldinho proves my theory, that there is something lower than low-hanging fruit, and there are filthy mutant degenerates who happily feast upon it. We all got a little dumber reading your comment in the Sheryl Swoopes post, homes.

Confirmed moron sacoplenty also took the trampled, molded, fallen fruit with his hopeless contribution to the Bulging Dicks post. Who would laugh at that?

Not to be outdone, fellow Deadspin troll shuttledik earned a sad trombone and a frowny face for what I suppose is a self-reference, in the Bulging Dicks post.

Regular dud-contributor goolick33 left this . . . ummm . . . lyric (?) in the AK47 post (which easily drew the greatest number of absolutely terrible comments of any post I can remember).

Guns & Ammo commenter John Gardner obviously followed the wrong link to the AK47 post, and thought it would be a good idea to enlighten us all with his expert-level knowledge of the the retail availability of semi-automatic weapons. Thanks! [brofist]

Unstarred commenter A Duck With a Lisp dropped the ol' rent-a-joke in the AK47 post. Where o where is the goddamn ninja?

Unstarred commenter Radon Zeppelin took a single line from Scarface, added the name "Shaka", hit "Submit", then sat back from his computer with a satisfied smile. That an anvil did not come crashing through the ceiling at that exact moment is a fucking travesty.

I was just not a fan of lauren_jo's contribution to the Scarface post. It sucks. It's pre-teen humor. She has a star, presumably she can do better.

And now, for the worst comment of the day, and the impetus of cheese_mac's hilarious joke in the same thread (see above): Billy Clyde Puckett's preemptive buzz-kill, first in line in the Dead Soccer Fan post. That's not a contribution. Did it head off any number of predictably lame comments? Sure. But that's not how it works; be funny, do not be not funny. The last thing in the world Deadspin commenting needs is some Debbie Downer fuckface preempting bad jokes by predicting them at the start of a post. Thankfully, other commenters delivered a not-too-abusive hip-check, although a pretty goddamn funny smackdown was almost immediately redacted by Rare Endangered Vuvuzela.

All in all, it wasn't a bad day in Deadspin commenting. A couple of posts drew an abnormal number of really bad comments, but at least activity was up, and there were some good jokes to be found in almost every post.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday Roundup

Some favorites and a few duds from today's commenting.

, in no particular order:

All Over But The Sharting had a killer day, checking in first with this hilarious glimpse inside the Knicks' playbook in the Derrick Rose Alley-Oop post. Later, his dissolving Tiger Woods comparison was good for a laugh, in the Tiger Woods Sex-Life post. And finally, this contribution to the MMA post was his funniest of the day.

SavetoFavorites cracked me up with a very silly contribution to the NFL Rules Changes post. What can I say, I'm a sucker for silliness.

Also in the MMA post, Steve U's dig at Arkansas delivered a delicious payoff.

Total Fucking Duds

Unstarred commenter Derrick Rose ACT Score 1 thought his name would be sufficient for a laugh in a Derrick Rose post. Boy was he wrong.

Unstarred commenter shuttledik continued to stink up the joint, first leaving an inexplicable one-word comment in the Derrick Rose Alley-Oop post, and later dropping just as lazy and worthless a comment in the Dave McKenna Update post. Truly, this guy sucks. Where the hell is the ninja, for crying out loud?

Unstarred commenter Paolo.Lex double-posted (courtesy of Nibbles) some piece-of-crap commentary on the toughness of NBA players. Back to, dummy.

Unstarred commenter wizard_alien paid a hefty price for leaving a lazy, meaningless Blake Griffin reference in the Chinese Dunk Contest post, drawing ridicule from a selection of grumpy commenters. It was a terrible comment.

In the same post, unstarred commenter stunk out the joint with a bogus rent-a-joke. He's not usually a terrible commenter, he can do better than this crap.

What in God's name was Jobu81 thinking with this flaccid piece of shit in the Tiger Woods Sex-Life post? That's a conspicuously dreadful comment from a starred commenter.

And finally, unstarred commenter sigma982 tempted me many times today, finally breaking through with this lame-brained dud in the Australian Bros post, made worse by whatever the hell that is after the ellipses.

Lots of activity on Tuesday's posts, which was nice to see. Unfortunately, there were quite a lot of horrid comments, but that's just how it goes. Especially dismal comments, like that of wizard_alien, actually can have some value, in that they both cause a stir among the commenters and give more established commenters an opportunity to give direct and indirect feedback to newer ones.

Happy DUAN!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Roundup

Some favorites and a few duds from today's commenting.

, in no particular order.

Sheed's Bald Spot brought the funny with grim tidings of a future post-apocalyptic wasteland in the Bully Update post.

All Over But The Sharting cracked me up with a nice America's Funniest Home Videos joke in the Bike Race post.

Total Fucking Duds

In the Wake Up Deadspin post, inexplicably-starred commenter lauren_jo misfired with some nonsense about the Texas/Arizona game. BFDNBNF.

Unstarred commenter Lady Pha Pha violated the same edict with some crap about spelling UNC's name correctly. Hey, this ain't, knucklehead. The Wake Up Deadspin post seemed to inspire a lot of bad commenting.

I don't know what the hell nightelfmohawk was thinking with this rambling, incoherent bullshit in the Wake Up Deadspin post, but the fact that it was promoted is deeply troubling. EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that nightelfmohawk is, in fact, a starred commenter. In other news, my head just exploded.

Phintastic missed terribly with this incredibly lazy attempt at a joke in the Blake Griffin Dunk/Technical post. I guess you take the good with the bad from Phintastic, but he was in full-on grind mode today.

And finally, unstarred commenter packman_jon delivered the Terrible Comment of the Day with this rotten deuce of a reply to Landycakeboss's joke in the Bike Race post. What the hell is that? I don't understand; did a piano fall through the ceiling and flatten him immediately after he finished typing the word "expactations"? God, I hope so.

As you can probably tell, I did not enjoy the comments from today's post. The commentariat seemed flat from start to finish, and any number of otherwise solid commenters threw up puzzling, awkward, low-hanging-fruit-style jokes throughout the day.

And now, DUAN!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday Roundup

Some favorites and a few duds from today's (yesterday's, again) commenting.

, in no particular order:

Hatey McLife checked in twice today, first with this sharp one-liner in the Wake Up Deadspin post, and again with a clever, chuckle-worthy joke in the Bully Video Update post.

For whatever reason, I laughed heartily at Tyreeeeeli's delicious quip in the Buzzer Beater post, especially when imagining it on screen.

In the same post, Steve U's use of the term "semistates" was good for a chuckle. This is right in his wheelhouse.

Body by Bacardi delivered a wonderfully silly lamentation in the FIFA Replay post. This kind of comment really does it for me; silly, unpretentious, loaded with personality.

All Over But The Sharting brought the funny with his contribution to the Bully Video Update post, using the staccato format of a section of content for a clever joke. Sharting's comments are so distinctive, I often wonder if I could identify them blind.

Deadspin icon MarkKelsosMigraine graced the comments today with a silly, perfectly distinctive contribution to the Fab Five post. I would pay money to bring him back to regular commenting.

And finally, Eddie Murray Sparkles returns with another clever little pun, this time in the UC Davis post. The danger with EMS is that these terrific one-liners will be diminished by the ease with which he produces them.

Total Fucking Duds

Unstarred commenter shuttledik continues to stink up the joint, first befouling the Nets Fan post with a godawful photo/comment, then coming right back moments later with an inexplicable . . . ummm . . . poem(?) in the NBA Ref post.

Also from the NBA Ref post, this flaming disaster from unstarred commenter Shake Harder, Boy. Be funny, do not be unfunny.

A Pimp Named DaveR brought further ruin to his reputation with this twisted, smoking, gore-soaked traffic accident in the NBA Ref post. What the fuck is that?

The less said about this (in the Buzzer Beater post, from unstarred commenter all oiled up), the better.

I'm not sure unstarred commenter pootnah understands how this whole "commenting" thing works. "Who's with me in having something funny to say? AMIRITE?" There are jokes to be made in the Bully Update post; suggesting that you find something to be funny will not do.

Another day, another putrid comment from unstarred commenter billikenmetz, this time an indefensibly horrid attempt at a pun in the U.S. Soccer Team Video post.

I have no idea what Sandy Magic Johnson was thinking when he cut this thing loose in Drew's Funbag post, but it's terrible. Uniquely terrible.

Also in the Funbag, an incredibly lazy comment from unstarred commenter Step Aside, Son. There's no way he thought that was funny when he posted it.

H is for Akeem dropped this lame, colorless, predictable, paint-by-numbers, dead fish of a comment in the Fran Dunphy Radio Interview post. Let's not devalue the commenting star, folks.

Speaking of devalued stars and dead-on-arrival jokes, scoop.and.slam left this rotten-crotch-smelling equivalent-of-vomit in the Montreal Fans post. Really, s&s? The impetus for this joke was the specificity of the word "shots"? That's a fucking disgrace.

Lots of posts on Tuesday, lots of comments, lots of good, lots of bad. I left any number of flat roadkill jokes stinking where they lay. In fact, I left a fair number of solid comments alone, as well. It was nice to have 3 new names in the Favorites today, including Mad Bastards All favorite MarkKelsosMigraine.

Hey, have a wonderful night.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monday Roundup

Some favorites and a few duds from today's (yesterday's) commenting.

in no particular order.

From the Tim Lincecum post, dont-forget-where-you-came-from-cheese-mac cracked me up with his Peter Pan reference. I will never look at Tim Lincecum the same again.

Also from the Tim Lincecum post, Fendi Hotdogbun drew a hearty laugh with his hysterical one-liner on Lincecum's facial hair.

Unstarred commenter (and regular Mad Bastards All punching bag) sacoplenty earned a chuckle with his renaming of a favorite McDonald's item in Drew's Bracket Rant post. For his hard work, the comment was promoted.

SavetoFavorites' over-the-top satirization of Bob Knight's public persona in the Bob Knight Sleeping post was a risky comment, but I thought it was terrific.

EddieSuttons SouthernComfort and Steve U shared a brilliant back-and-forth following ESSC's summarization of Glenn Beck's NCAA bracketology. The original comment was great, Steve U's riff was even better, and ESSC's final iteration was a beautiful finish.

And finally, Eddie Murray Sparkles checks back in with a characteristically elegant, creative, clever reworking of a famous line from My Fair Lady. Another excellent job there.

Total Fucking Duds

I don't know what Len Bias Cocaine Surplus was going for with his comment in Drew's Bracket Rant post, but there's an edit button for this exact kind of comment. He can do better.

In the same post, unstarred commenter Billy Clyde Puckett brought absolutely nothing of value with his obnoxious mockery. Be funny, do not be unfunny. And keep this kind of crap to yourself.

A Pimp Named DaveR
, who is an otherwise solid commenter, missed badly with a poorly constructed, clumsy, awkward Star Trek reference in the WNBA post.

Unstarred shuttledik cut loose a putrid stinker in the same post. Is there supposed to be a joke in there?

In the Soccer Back-Pass post, billickenmetz, an unstarred commenter, dropped a shallow, meaningless reference to a town nobody on Earth cares about. Why in the world anyone would think that thing is worth a promotion is beyond me.

Message to unstarred commenter Orton hears a boo: please, for the love of God, find the edit button immediately. That comment (from the Bob Knight post) is so bad, it's almost hilarious. Almost.

From the Landon Donovan post, SuramaAte . . . be funny, do not be unfunny. For crying out loud.

I feel prepared to declare that jeetjet has no sense of humor whatsoever. That joke wouldn't draw a laugh in a 3rd grade classroom.

Tuesday's Roundup will be up shortly. We've had some technical difficulties here at Mad Bastards All, but we're getting it sorted out. Look for Wednesday's Roundup either tonight or tomorrow morning.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Roundup

Some favorites and a few duds from today's commenting.

, in no particular order:

♥ Always Winning got in a great Kyle Orton-is-homeless joke in the NFL Pro Daze post.  He's been killing lately.

Steve U's joyous paraphrasing of a memorable Kevin Harlan exclamation might be the comment of the day, on a day he had several memorable comments.

It's not particularly great, but on a weak day for commenting, I enjoyed this extremely silly bit of wordplay by All Over But The Sharting in the Wake Up Deadspin post.

Total Fucking Duds

In a post that produced a lot of duds, unstarred commenter sacoplenty produced a so-bad-it's-almost-good turkey of a riff on the title of the Bleacher Report's misguided natural disasters slideshow. It practically begs for the sad trombone.

But even that flat tire couldn't compare to Lady Pha Pha's unintentionally hilarious contribution to that same thread.  This comment could not possibly have been more off-target.  There were some funny comments in that Bleacher Report thread, but it also brought out some of the worst comments the site has seen all week.  I'd highlight a few others, but it's too depressing.

Starred commenter BlylevenTheDude stank up the joint with this smelly turd of a comment in the Lakers-Heat post.  Using a phrase as bland as "Kobe wanted this one" to make yet another Kobe-as-rapist joke is just the lowest of low-hanging fruit, but on top of that, this particular Kobe-as-rapist joke isn't even clever.  And on top of that, the Lakers lost the game in question, and Kobe Bryant played poorly, making the Kobe-not-taking-"no"-for-an-answer joke doubly inappropriate.  It's just an extremely lazy comment, overall.  BlylevenTheDude isn't a particularly excellent commenter, but he's certainly capable of better than this.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that, although he's typically a perfectly solid commenter, Armen Tamzarian had a groan-inducing comment today.  This contribution to the Big East anthem post is a rent-a-joke: the punchline is, "I've seen Boogie Nights!"  In all fairness, there were quite a few rent-a-jokes today, and I chose this one to point out that sometimes, even non-norbizness starred commenters are guilty of them too.

Today, all in all, was a pretty mediocre day among the commentariat.  I think Fridays are often comparably weaker than other weekdays.

And now for DUAN.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday Roundup

Some favorites and a few duds from today's commenting.

, in no particular order:

Vodkanaut was on fire, first making me chuckle with his sly dig at Teddy Dupay in the Car Dunk post. Later, in the Brandon Meriweather Update post, his meandering monologue on doubt was good for a laugh. He wasn't finished, later earning some applause for a hilarious twist on fatherly wisdom in the NFL Lockout post. Vodkanaut is usually most active in DUAN, but his unique, inebriated, atonal silliness is a welcome change of pace in daytime commenting.

Gamboa Constrictor
dropped another perfect one-liner in the Car Dunk post, to the delight of Francophobes everywhere.

President Camacho
slayed me with a hysterical observation from the photo atop the NFL Lockout post. Excellent job.

In the Appalachian Trail post, All Over But The Sharting earned applause for a wonderfully depressing dig at the filmmaker. Careful structure is a key component of Sharting's joyful contributions.

In the same post, Always Winning checked in with an outrageous Jason Whitlock joke. I laughed out loud at this one.

And again, from the Appalachian Trail post, Eddie Murray Sparkles drew a laugh with a hilariously gross Gallagher joke. I love it when the more clever, cerebral commenters go for the simple laugh, and this was a great one.

Last but not least, Steve U showed pictures can be used for a great joke, with his literal representation in the UVA Choke Job post.

Total Fucking Duds

I don't want to pile on the guy, but norbizness had a dreadful day. First, there was his inexplicable contribution to the original Brandon Meriweather post. Then came his equally mind-boggling rent-a-joke in the Harvard/Princeton post. And later, he dropped this deuce in the Montreal Hockey post. This is perhaps the laziest carpet-bomb-style commenting by a starred commenter I can remember.

FriendsOfScottSisson got in on the act, laying this foul egg in the Buzzer Beater post. I suppose there's a joke in there, but I'm sure it's not his.

From the same post, billikenmetz thought (incorrectly) that recycling someone else's joke would be a good idea. This is not making jokes. This is like going to open mic night at the local improv, then wheeling out a television showing episodes of Family Guy and sitting down on the floor next to it.

At least attempted to make a joke, but it fell flat and I hated it. I'm usually reluctant to punish someone who actually tried to make an original joke, but I feel like the John Amaechi/gay jokes are tired. If you're going back to one of these memes, you really need to bring something fresh, and this just didn't measure up.

And finally, from the so-bad-it's-actually-funny file, Von Kaiser's absolutely dead-on-arrival disasterpiece. Somehow, VK managed to overcook a joke that has fewer than 10 words. "[A]s in horny"? Really? WAIT, STAY A WHILE AND REVEAL YOUR BRILLIANCE FOR SUBTLETY TO US, O HUMOROUS ONE.

Today was a terrific day for Deadspin commenters. It started slowly, but towards the end of the afternoon, great comments were flying left and right. I left out any number of very solid, very funny, very original comments.

One more note; henceforth, I'm really going to try to deviate away from just picking on those comments that use pictures or videos in a lazy, throwaway manner. Frankly, I think I've made my point on that topic. Plenty of pancake-flat puns and references are tossed up throughout the day, it's high time I give them the comeuppance they so richly deserve.

Happy DUANing, y'all.

Profiles in Commenting: norbizness

Or: "This Reminds Me Of A Joke Someone Else Made" Is Not A Fucking Joke, You Fucking Hack

Commenter Profile Link: norbizness
Commenter Style: Jpeg-y, Simpson-y, unoriginal-y

Launching this blog, it was - and still is - our intention to focus most of our energies on drawing attention to what's good in the world of Deadspin commenting. It's my studied opinion that, taken collectively, on the average day, the Deadspin comment sections are the funniest place on the entire internet, whether you care about sports or not. These past couple of weeks haven't necessarily provided the best argument for that, as many of the site's funniest, most original, and most ingenious commenters have been out of the picture, but still.

Take for example this comment by Eddie Murray Sparkles that earned a mention in our Tuesday Roundup. I'm hoping that by unpacking it a little bit I won't suck all the humor out of it, but I want to draw attention to the fact that this simple, brief one-liner contains two distinct references, working in opposite directions: the surface statement "we are all out of accounting jokes" references the previous day's bonanza of accounting-related puns; "OD'd" and "Ledger" reference our knowledge of the unfortunate demise of Heath Ledger. Think about what these references do, blended together in this specific way: the first reference flows in one direction, and the other one flows directly against it.

The sentence makes one joke structurally, using the setup of a story about an accounting professor to surprise us with the silly ledger/Ledger bit - but it also contains a second setup/punchline structure that isn't delivered by the accounting pun, but rather by the mental process the reader will go through in reading that pun: the fact of one single sentence saying both "there are no more accounting jokes" and "yes there are," with the same words. On top of that, it also delivers the surprise of commuting our expectation of accounting jokes about the George Washington University professor who is the subject of the article all the way to the idea that the accounting jokes themselves are the joke. And, if you really want to keep unpacking, you can laugh at the idea that we're so far down the rabbit-hole of accounting references that they have become irresistible: that even in trying to say that we are out of accounting jokes, we can't help but make accounting jokes.

Ladies and gentlemen, this one-liner is a dizzying masterwork of comedy.

The reason I've gone into such lengths to unpack and map out the humor of an Eddie Murray Sparkles comment in a profile of another commenter altogether is because I want you to have that comment, and its masterful use of references to subjects outside of the topic of the post being commented on, in mind when you click on this link to a comment made by norbizness in the overnight post about Brandon Meriweather's involvement in a shooting at a party in Florida. I want you to read the post in question, then read norbizness's comment, and see if you can tell me what the actual joke is.

As far as I can tell, here is the joke:

"Neil Diamond has a song with the words 'Blue Jeans' in it. Also, I am familiar with a character from The Simpsons. Here is a video!"

Are you laughing yet?

I wouldn't single this comment out for derision if it weren't painfully representative of norbizness's ouvre, which is to post a screen-cap or embedded video from some outside pop-culture source (most commonly The Simpsons), and contribute no actual humor of his own. By my extremely unscientific measurements (basically, a not-particularly-charitable estimate), I'd say that maybe a full half of all of his comments essentially boil down to, "I have watched The Simpsons." And that's just not funny.

Look. A lot of jokes can be boiled down to very bare-bones statements that, on their own, aren't particularly funny. In fact, this is true of many very good comments. Take, for example, this one, by Same Sad Echo. It's hardly the funniest joke in the world, but it's good for a chuckle, and it doesn't take more than a glance to see that, unpacked, the statement here is, "Like Vince Naimoli, Dan Snyder is also an asshole." Turning that into something that works as a joke is where craft comes in: a little bit of incongruity, some care and specificity, and you've got something that is not only funny, but also incisive (in how it gently reminds us that, like Naimoli, Snyder's destiny is to be remembered first and foremost for being a big asshole, no matter what else he does).

And it's there - in the use of craft and care to create actual jokes, ones that actually say something - that norbizness so often fails. My partner-in-crime, Mr. Shitehawk, uses one term and one concept that I want to mention here: the term is "rent-a-joke," which is the lazy practice of deploying a pop-culture reference without adding any original humor to it (incidentally, Seth MacFarlane has made himself a gazillionaire media monstrosity out of exactly this sort of thing); the concept is that of grinding, which is when a commenter seems to prioritize churning out at least one comment for each and every post over making people laugh. I bring these up because the typical norbizness comment fits the following profile: it is likely one of the earliest comments on any given post, and it is depressingly likely to be a rent-a-joke. Those two things aren't unrelated. Here's a guy who isn't putting any effort into turning pop-culture associations into well-crafted jokes, because he's racing to get his comments out before anyone else steals the low-hanging fruit.

How can I so confidently make that diagnosis? How do I know that norbizness isn't trying his hardest, and isn't, like, retarded? Here's how: when he calms down, waits a few goddamn minutes, and gives the image-bombing a rest, he's capable of mildly-but-genuinely humorous comments like this one. You'll notice, if you look at the entire thread of that Don King post, that his contribution appears a shocking 22 minutes after the article appeared on Deadspin, and nearer to the middle of the overall thread than to the beginning. Is it particularly laff-tastic? Certainly not. Heck, it may not even rise to the level of actual funniness. But it's humorous, in that it at least shows that he's capable of conveying humor.

And it's precisely comments like that one - there aren't many of them, but they occur often enough to demonstrate that they're not total flukes - that caused me to write this resoundingly negative profile. There are plenty of commenters - some very regular ones, although most are unstarred - who don't seem to understand at all that there's a difference between saying "Here is proof that I have watched a particular movie/read a particular news item/memorized a dismaying number of episodes of a television show that lost its vitality over a decade ago" on the one hand, and making an actual joke on the other. Many of them have never produced a single comment that was not an utter failure. Those people will never be profiled in this blog, because for all I know, they are just simple, stupid people who are trying their damnedest. Norbizness is not one of them. He is a lazy hack, content an unforgivably large percentage of the time to let the work of other, funnier people provide literally all the content of his contributions.

Commenter Rating (out of five stars): X

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday Roundup

Some favorites and a few duds from today's commenting.

Favorites, in no particular order:

In the Harvard/Princeton post, fat-leaveher drew a laugh with his cleverly worded conundrum.

Steve U killed me with his hilarious recontextualization of the Royals' mascot's name in the Hot Dog Law Suit post. He can always be counted on for razor-sharp one-liners. Later, he flexed his legalese muscles with a terrific addition to the MMA Pot post.

Delonte, Interrupted received some deserved applause for a terrific music reference in the Devil Rays post.

Gamboa Constrictor had a hell of a day, causing me to guffaw loudly with his silly pun in the Belgian Keeper post. Gamboa also took advantage of a grapefruit in his wheelhouse with an elegant self-reference in the MMA Pot post.

Total Fucking Duds

Unstarred commenter goolick33's Colin Cowherd reference in the OSU Scandal post was just a waste of time and space. Did we really need the picture? Are there a lot of Colin Cowherds running around?

Unstarred 16oz. Beer struggled today. Mightily. From what I can tell, his contribution to the Blake Griffin post is an unedited copy of a movie poster without any comment at all. Seriously, what the hell was the point of that? Later, in the Hot Dog Law Suit post, he contributed another unedited picture with . . . hell, is it worth a recap? This is terribly lazy commenting.

Also from the Hot Dog Law Suit post (which seemed to draw an awful lot of bad comments), unstarred commenter Shot_From_The_Musket contributed an ugly, awkward, unfunny porn reference. I'm all for tasteless porn jokes, if they're thoughtfully delivered.

Another from the Hot Dog Law Suit post, another unstarred commenter, another picture, another train-wreck. This time it was A Duck With a Lisp, referencing the Simpsons, to a resounding echo. I'm sure he can do better than that.

And finally, it's MelrosesMullet, killing and burying the Emmitt Smith meme once and for all with this barren offering, made worse by a glaring failure of italics. Emmitt Smith jokes can be hilarious, but it has to be about more than just Emmitt misunderstanding something; the misunderstanding itself has to be funny, or you've got yourself a turd.

I cut my goddamn fingers to ribbons this afternoon, and typing this with bandages all over my middle and ring fingers on my left hand has been difficult.

Here's to a raucous, joyous DUAN!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Roundup

Some favorites and a few duds from today's commenting.

in no particular order:

Eddie Murray Sparkles made regular readers and commenters laugh with a clever accounting humor/Heath Ledger joke all-in-one in this morning's Accounting Professor Ejection Video post. He's just so damn clever, he is.

All Over But the Sharting's dig at Evander Holyfield was good for a chuckle in the Fight of the Century Photo post. Trademark silliness with characteristic craftsmanship.

In the same post, Dandy Koufax jumped on the name Frasier, and somehow had me giggling at the words "comical misunderstanding". Terrific job.

For whatever reason, Hatey McLife's characteristically dark take on the dangers of time-travel cracked me up (although, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that it's true).

Total Fucking Duds

had no business dropping this lame rent-a-joke in the Accounting Professor Ejection Video post. This is a common routine for norbizness, throwing up pictures or videos without adding any original humor. He's a funny guy, he can do a whole lot better than this.

Another awful rent-a-joke, this time from BirdLaw, in the Tom Brady post. Seriously, get your own jokes, people. This is just lazy, unoriginal grinding by an otherwise solid commenter.

Unstarred commenter sacoplenty did himself no favors with this absolute turd in the Sepp Blatter post. It's doubly bad for being the last comment in the post, and therefore the first one seen when scrolling the comments section.

Cyrus_the_virus is generally a pretty good unstarred commenter, but his stink-bomb in the Yankee Stadium post is just terrible. I have no idea what he was going for there, but he can't possibly have thought that thing was worth a promotion.

The Muhammed Ali Sculpture post seemed to draw a lot of limp comments, but Tressels_Sweater_Vest's Kill Bill comment deserves special mention for having no redeeming characteristics whatsoever. This kind of thing will not and should not ever be promoted.

In the same post, Tyler Bray's Back Tattoo dropped a clumsy throwaway clunker referencing Roger Clemens and steroids. This isn't just low-hanging fruit; it's a dented can of expired Dole fruit cocktail in syrup, oozing botulism, dropped into a sewer by a hobo and avoided even by the rats and roaches. Surely, he can do better.

Today was not an especially bad day in Deadspin commenting, but the fact is, in any given day the duds will likely far outnumber the favorites. Also, I wrapped this thing up before 6pm EST, so there are probably a few good fresh ones out there, and at least another couple stinkers.

And now, DUAN!