Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursday Roundup

Some favorites and very few duds from Thursday's commenting.

Favorites, in no particular order:

Our boy Gamboa Constrictor got things started this morning with a humdinger in the Wake Up Deadspin post, a clever reworking of a reference to a recent Deadspin item, earning high praise from his peers.

Steve U got in on the act in the same post with another hilarious dig at Tony LaRussa's apparent alcoholism. Honestly, I could read well-made Larussa-as-a-drunk jokes all day.

Recent MBA punching bag ToddReesingsTurfFacial received some deserved applause for a well-crafted, confidently delivered language joke in the Gloria James post. It's nice to see him tone down the shtick and offer a grown-up-sounding comment. Good job.

I chuckled aloud at David Hume's dig at Albert Pujols in the Gloria James post. Simple, straightforward, deadpan, terrific.

Vodkanaut delivered a characteristically silly, off-beat, out-of-left-field movie reference in the Backflip Penalty Kick post, and I loved it. One liners are great, but frankly, if the Deadspin comments section were all one-liners, it wouldn't be nearly as interesting. The long-form jokes reveal a sophistication in the commentariat that makes it all the more impressive. Great job here.

Also in the Backflip Penalty Kick post, SponsoredbyV8 checked in with a beautifully simple one-word joke with a subtle punchline. This joke didn't get nearly the attention it deserved.

Hatey McLife's vicious one-liner in the Fried Food post was good for a guilty laugh. The slightest mistake in delivery here would have made this comment ugly and obnoxious, but that's why Hatey's Hatey.

All Over But The Sharting's clever two-part comment in the Masters Photo post was good for . . . well, two separate chuckles. The first part was good enough, and then it looks like he had another moment of inspiration, and was able to expand upon the original joke. Nice job.

EddieSutton's SouthernComfort delivered another wonderfully elegant joke, also in the Masters Photo post, and earned a round of applause for his efforts. That's a perfect comment.

Also in the Masters Photo post, unstarred commenter snoop-a-loop delivered a hilarious contribution in the same vein as ESSC's, earning a promotion and some positive feedback. The commentariat really showed up for this post today.

Deadspin veteran Karlifornia slayed me with his vulgar A League of Their Own reference, in the Softball Mea Culpa post. Once upon a time, Karlifornia was a Commenter of the Year runner up, but he's been mostly out of action for a long while now.

And finally, reigning champ Eddie Murray Sparkles cracked me up big-time with his observation of the photo from the Ray Allen Interview post. I laughed and laughed at this.

Total Fucking Duds:

ToddReesingsTurfFacial had a rare two-fer today, showing up in both the Favorites and the Duds. His comment in the Masters Photo post was sufficiently lame and uninspired to earn a gray-job from the powers-that-be. It's one thing for an unstarred doofus to offer a totally lifeless low-hanging-fruit movie reference, but featured commenters really ought to know better. And furthermore, shifting gears and including your back-up joke in the same comment is just clumsy and desperate. This is the problem with grinding; you can't pump out 1-3 comments per post without fairly often just throwing up the first thought that comes to mind and hitting submit. If the unedited, unrefined thought isn't funny enough all by itself, it will be a bad comment. This was a bad comment.

In the Softball Mea Culpa post, Phintastic had nothing to offer beyond a clumsily reworked and utterly irrelevant movie quote from Pulp Fiction. I don't have anything against a reworked quote or lyric or title; in fact, I am a huge sucker for that kind of joke. But there is no tie-in or relevance to this comment, other than that the guy's name is Paul. Again, as with Phin's bad comment from . . . the other day, that's just way too flimsy a pretext for the joke. The name Paul is not funny or interesting or uncommon enough to justify it's use as the centerpiece of a comment, and I find it very hard to believe even Phintastic would disagree. In Pulp Fiction, the line "my name's Paul, and this shit's between y'all" is used by a glorified extra to get out of a sticky conversation. The way Phintastic reworked it, it doesn't even make sense: "his name's Paul, and this is between us all" implies that we, the readers, are somehow involved. If he'd made it a quote from Paul, it still wouldn't be funny at all, but it would at least make sense.

I suppose there's a bit of a paradox I should address regarding grinding and lazy commenting and the need to finesse one's comments before submitting them. Namely, that even a funny idea needs to be carefully constructed in order to make a good comment from it, and how that may work opposite the abilities or available time and energy of many or most commenters. For example, say you're an unstarred commenter, and you open a post, read it, and have a glimmer of inspiration. The clock is ticking. The idea seems potentially funny to you, but you can't seem to work it into a tight, elegant package. I know there's a joke here, you think. Iteration after iteration passes, but none seem to really maximize the humor of the idea. Before too long, the post is sliding down the timeline, and the window to make the comment and have anyone read it, ever, is closing. Furthermore, while you were struggling with this idea in this post, 2 or 3 new posts have come up, and now you're well behind the crowd's attention span. Following this pattern, it's possible you may never be able to get one of your good ideas down when it matters, if at all. What to do?

If you're Phintastic or ToddReesingsTurfFacial or norbizness, you say "to hell with that" and stop finessing your comments altogether, favoring the opportunity to lay down a high volume of comments over the need to finesse each individual comment to its best possible version. You are now a grinder. This is bad. Most readers just start to ignore your comments, and the only people who ever respond to them or enjoy them are newbies or other grinders.

This standard sometimes seems unfair even to me, especially when applied to someone like Phintastic; he's put in his time, he's been around the block, maybe he's earned the right to not worry so much about whether his jokes are perfected. Why should he be disallowed from engaging in the fun of a good thread because he doesn't have time to reformat what he thinks is an already-funny concept? The real problem with grinding, as I see it, is that it lowers the standard for other commenters, and soon you've got an entire sub-set throwing up unadorned movie quotes and jpegs and sloppy, low-hanging-fruit puns, and not even attempting to submit true whoppers. It seems like that's where we are nowadays, but with the comment_ninja and FAILBOT coming back to life, perhaps we'll see a reversal of this trend.

Okay, enough of that. Jesus, I really got carried away there. Goooooooo DUAN!

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