Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday Roundup

Favorites and duds from Thursday's commenting.

Favorites
, in no particular order:

All Over But The Sharting cracked me up with this effort in the Wake Up Deadspin post, proving that there's still plenty of juice in the "Jason Whitlock is fat" meme. Later, in the Dirk Tattoo post, this dig at Jim Gray showcases All Over But The Sharting's gift for patient, effective set-up. There are a million ways to short this joke ("Similarly, a Jim Gray homage tattoo features Lebron James's balls on your forehead", etc.), but a good joke-maker takes the time to build a set-up that allows that punchline to hit with maximum oomph. Nice job.

I really enjoyed this offering from Bernie Carbomb in the Unusual Red Card post, and was surprised it didn't get any attention. It's a different angle to the joke, it's an excellent pun, it has character and a nicely weighted punchline, and it got an honest-to-God chuckle out of me. Have a +1.

This is an excellent comment from unstarred commenter cobra.la.la.la.la.la.la in the Broken Trophy post. The recontextualization is hilarious, and he also had the good sense of humor to throw in a pretty damn funny end title for the memoir there at the end. There's a lesson here: take the extra minute or two and fully flesh out your joke before you submit it. Obviously, cobra.la.la.la.la.la.la could have stopped at making Trophy With a Broken Stick a working title for Heather Mills's memoirs and it would have been a worthy comment, but that little extra touch makes it all the funnier. Nice job.

Here's a giant, mostly terrific thread featuring AzureTexan, Steve_U, Eddie Murray Sparkles, Bevraj of Choice, All Over But The Sharting, Same Sad Echo, OnTheTwelfthNightOfLloydChristmas, MattinglysSideburns, Nine Bill Muellers, and unstarred commenters WhoWantsaWanstacheRide, Red Ned, and MaxErnstMankini in the O.J. Confession post. There are some seriously hysterical contributions in this thread. +1s all around.

This is just pure funny from DJ Jazzy Jeff Weaver in the Great-Grandmother post. It's also a startlingly clear example of premise-setup-punchline joke-making, albeit in the form of dialogue. Excellent job. Later, in the Kyrie Irving post, DJ Jazzy Jeff Weaver was good enough to demonstrate that there is, in fact, still juice to be squeezed from the "Brett Favre has a small penis" meme. One of my favorite all-time DUAN threads was 160-some comments long and ran the full gamut of roadkill memes, but the fact is, a good joke-maker can find an angle to humor in all the old, boring standbys. Today was a great example of that.

In the Great Grandmother post, sweatingmullets earned a round of +1s for spotting an excellent reference and packaging it confidently. On the rare occassions when sweatingmullets ventures outside of DUAN, he demonstrates some serious game.

Theodore Donald Kerabatsos dropped what I thought was the funniest comment of the day in the Phille Phanatic post. There's no part of this joke that isn't hilarious, but the specific use of expert language at the end really sends this joke over the top. I'm still laughing about this one.

Steve_U's Bein' Green joke in the Phillie Phanatic post really killed me. For whatever reason, it's these jokes that reference things from my childhood that I just can't get enough of. I think there's some broader uniformity to that sentiment, though: we all seem to respond with particular joy to jokes that skew or otherwise subtly darken subjects that seem inherently innocent. Turning Kermit the Frog's sweetly melancholy song into a genuine reference to pain or injury is just really fucking funny. Later, in the Nyjer Morgan post, this danger-of-taking-things-literally joke earned another round of applause. That's awesome.

And finally, here's (of all things) another Heather Mills joke, this time from Fendi Hotdogbun in the Nyjer Morgan post. Terrific. He took a unique angle on this one and courageously let the audience do some of the work. Robert Altman would be proud.

Total Fucking Duds

Unstarred commenter bofie stopped well short of submitting anything of value at all with this comment in the Softball Email post. I'm hesitant to say "this thing isn't even worth a discussion", but the simple fact is this: if you pay any attention at all to what goes on in Deadspin's comments section, you can't possibly think this kind of thing is appropriate. It doesn't at all rise to the level of being a joke. Maybe, maybe in a room full of friends you could deliver this line with a look on your face and a tone of voice and wild, crazy jazz hands and get a response. Crafting sophisticated jokes with language in writing takes a hell of a lot more effort and intelligence and nuance. This stuff will not do.

Unstarred commenter VanExelfor3 disappointed with this comment in the Softball Email post. It's not a bad idea at all, but the problem is, Steve_U had already made a nearly identical joke down thread, one that had been met with deserved praise. It's frustrating because Steve_U deserves that anyone reading the post will see his well-made joke fresh and enjoy it and appreciate his clever commenting. I can sometimes forgive a commenter stepping all over another commenter's work if they genuinely think they have a significantly better, more original take on the same or a similar angle, but obviously that's not what happened here. VanExelfor3 got lazy, probably didn't check to see if his comment had already been made, and then never scrolled down thread to even read the other comments. In fact, he submitted another comment in that same post only moments later, and still hadn't traveled down thread to see what other comments were made. It's just courtesy - someone gets there first and nails it, you leave it alone or redact.

This comment was also disappointing, from J. Henry Waugh in the Great-Grandmother post. Yes, that scene in The Big Lebowski is funny. Copying the line, while changing two whole letters, falls pretty well short of being original humor. It's not even really relevant, is it? Copied lines of dialogue and lyrics and unadorned photos or videos make me a little crazy. This joke boils down to nothing but "I have seen The Big Lebowski, and it is funny."

And finally, just what the hell's going on with this thing, from unstarred commenter MaxErnstMankini in the Great-Grandmother post? Truly, I have no idea what the hell's going on there. I click the link and I get the same photo. That's just an astonishingly long way from funny. As I mentioned above, unadorned photos almost never amount to a good comment.

You know, I've meant to say for a while now that the commentariat is looking really fucking formidable these days. Months ago, I was pretty down on Deadspin's commenting: things had gone the way of quotes from The Simpsons and half-assed puns and ubiquitous Brett Favre dick jokes. Shortly after the redesign, we published a piece about the apparent exodus of the most inspired commenters around and the general sorry state of affairs. I'm so, so glad that early dread turned out to be unnecessary. These past few weeks, it's been downright difficult to keep up with all the terrific commenting going on in virtually every thread literally every day. Even the gray guys seem to be making genuine efforts toward sophisticated joke-making, and I see half a dozen or more perfectly solid gray comments a day go unpromoted.

So, to all you magnificent mad-man (and women): bravo. Truly. I first came to Deadspin because of the magnetic, seemingly-impossible genius of the best of the commentariat, and I think we've got a present crop of commenters who will make that same impression on new readers every day. Keep it up, you wonderful sons of bitches.

And go do DUAN.

10 comments:

  1. As usual, great work MBA. In appreciation of your efforts, here's a +1 for you.

    -cobra.la.la

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  2. +1. No thanks to me, the commenting was quite strong today, and has just been at a ridiculously high level the last few weeks. This site is obviously a huge part of that.

    I think there were two major turning points that brought the commentariat out of its post-redesign slump.

    (1) Uwe's very brief retirement. When he did it, he made that empassioned speech in DUAN that fired up a lot of people. I know it did me. Most importantly, it fired him up, and he's been dropping pure gold ever since.

    (2) When Gamboa introduced everyone who wasn't compulsively self-Googling their screenname every night to this site.

    Those guys are my commenters of the year right now. They do great work, obviously, but their larger contributions to the site are really immeasurable.

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  3. Good points Mike. He funny thing is, I still feel like I post to try and live up to Spud and Weed and ArkansasFred. Funny how perspective works.

    -MKM

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  4. DJ Jazzy Jeff WeaverJune 24, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    I was a bit on the fence about posting the Favre joke. Glad it didn't land with a thud. In retrospect, I wish I had been more subtle with it -- something to the effect of that phrase being overheard outside the Jets' massage room.

    @IMG -- Could I get link to Uwe's speech? I missed that.

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  5. @MKM

    Just to be clear, I definitely wasn't trying to compare their comment quality to anyone in particular, past or present, (I honestly think there are about 15-20 guys playing at an obscenely high level right now and any of them is a deserving COTY in my book); just to say that they were the guys who I think made the two biggest contribution to getting people pumped up to comment again, whether directly or indirectly.

    @DJJJW

    I'm digging around for Uwe's speech. It was a few days after the one cited here:

    http://madbastardsall.blogspot.com/2011/04/exodus-duly-noted.html

    He basically lays out all the reasons he loves DS, but can't do it anymore. It's just a random DUAN comment, so it's a bit of a needle in a haystack, but it generated a huge response and commenting seemed to pick up right away. I'll post it if I find it.

    Interestingly, while digging around and looking, I learned that Uwe's favorite Mr. Show sketch is the Pre-Taped Call-In Show, which is objectively the wrong answer. Everyone knows it's Taint. Or Delicious, Delicious Chickens. Oooh ooh, or the one where the played the GloboChem Corporate Retreat. That one is awesome.

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  6. Thanks, IMG. But I'm pretty sure the main reason my 30-second retirement helped is because people came flooding back when they thought there was a chance they wouldn't have to look at my stupid comments anymore. But I agree 100% that knowing this site was out there made me start trying harder with my comments.

    Also, DJ Jazzy Jeff Weaver, my speech is actually linked within this very site. I'm just too lazy to find it myself.

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  7. I may have said that was one of my favorite sketches, but my absolute favorite is Van Hammersly. Which is the only correct answer.

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  8. It's really interesting to read about what was going on in March and April here. For most of 2010, I was a fairly decent unstarred commenter under a different name (before getting my head chopped off for some lazy comment that I can't even remember now), and then did some OK stuff through early 2011.

    Then when the redesign hit, I got really frustrated, and just stopped checking the site for two months -- which now that I read through all of this, are the same two months when everyone else dropped off.

    At some point in early May, I realized that the blog view made things better, and I sensed that the comments were now more in line with my sense of humor. Honestly, I know we've lost some of the greats, but the comments now are so much stronger than they were before.

    This blog is a huge part of the revival -- thanks for all the work.

    -- Raysism

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  9. Theodore Donald KerabatsosJune 24, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    Same thing here, Ray. The redesign really chapped my ass and I mostly gave up on the site for three or four months. I came back reluctantly after realizing that they'd fixed some of the dumb "features" that they'd implemented.

    It's good to see the commenting back to a high level. And I agree that this blog has something to do with it. Commenters aren't just gunning for +1's anymore... we want the coveted MBA mentions, too.

    God, the DS commentariat is a needy fucking bunch, myself included.

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  10. Wow, I thought I was missing out during my several months of hardly posting at all after the redesign... apparently not. Whew.

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