Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Week in Review and Stuff

Let's start with some awards, shall we? Why the fuck not? If all you care about is which commenters are awesome, awesomer, and awesomest, digest the following and have a lovely weekend. We're going to try to pump these out from now on, one per weekend:

Last Week's Swinging Dicks

In Third Place, winner of the mostly-empty can of Spot Shot I used to clean dog puke out of my rug: Same Sad Echo, with 5 Favorites in the last five days.

Here's my favorite Same Sad Echo joke from last week. It's just a perfect "Idiot" joke.

In a tie for Second Place, and co-winners of a collection of ancient Better Homes and Gardens magazines I discovered under my coffee table while cleaning dog puke out of my rug: RMJ=H and Madoffs Mets, with 6 Favorites each in the last five days.

This is my favorite RMJ=H joke from last week. This is a very simple idea, executed beautifully.

And here's my favorite Madoffs Mets joke from last week. That's a wonderfully sharp one-liner.

And in a tie for First Place, proud co-winners of the actual dog puke contained in a carefully maintained handful of paper towels: Raysism and SavetoFavorites, with 7 Favorites each in the last five days

This is my favorite Raysism joke from last week. It's not an "Idiot" joke because it effectively shifts the stupidity where it will have the greatest impact.

Here's my favorite SavetoFavorites joke from last week. Not one single +1! Not one! Unbelievable.

Also, these!

Here's your Monday Comment of the Day, from IronMikeGallego.

Here's your Tuesday Comment of the Day, from Rare Endangered Vuvuzela.

Here's your Wednesday Comment of the Day, from Eddie Murray Sparkles.

Here's your Thursday Comment of the Day, from Madoffs Mets.

And here's your Friday Comment of the Day, from All Over But The Sharting.

Congratulations, all you funny sons of bitches. Keep it coming.

The Unwelcome Lesson of the Week

So, it's 1926. Babe Ruth promises sick little Johnny Sylvester a homerun in Game 4 of the World Series. Johnny, stirred to action, summons the energy to attend the game, snagging a seat in the bleachers in center. The Babe steps to the plate and crushes one high and deep. The crowd rises, little Johnny among them, as the ball soars beyond the outfield wall. The Babe is nearing first as the ball finishes its descent into the stands, crashes into Johnny's forehead, knocks his eyes out, and kills him dead as can be.

That's a joke, and a terrible one. But let's pretend it's not so terrible. Let's pretend it was made by one of the funny commenters listed above.

The sequence above never actually took place. The Babe signed a ball and sent it to Johnny with a message that he'd hit him a homerun on Wednesday. The Babe did, in fact, hit a homerun in Game 4 of the 1926 World Series. Johnny Sylvester was lying in a hospital bed when it happened. Happily, no eyeballs were splayed.

The awful joke above is presented to you as an example of irony. One definition of irony is this: incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result. I like this definition because boy does it sound a lot like Kant's explanation that laughter arises "when a tense expectation is transformed into nothing". I like to think of jokes and humor along these lines: jokes are mechanical, they are an instrument, they have components, and those components have functions. The job of a joke is to produce laughter. Laughter is also mechanical, it happens when tension is created and then suddenly relieved. We don't laugh because we make an intellectual evaluation of the merits of a joke, we laugh because the joke drags it out of us. Mechanical.

Irony and tragedy are not mutually exclusive. One does not preclude the other. Romeo and Juliet is the simplest example: this play turns on irony, irony is its device. And it is a tragedy. Romeo tragically offs himself in one of the great moments of irony (and dramatic irony) in literary history.

In our stupid joke above, a boy dies horribly, and it is ironic. Had the joke been made by a better joker, it would also be funny. Death and irony and funny, all in the same ridiculous sequence.

Tragedy to humor by way of irony. Only a couple of very short leaps from one to the other. The similar mechanics of irony and humor give humor an avenue to tragedy.

And even if that weren't the case, hey, we all process things differently, from different distances to the event, with our own unique emotional makeup, and at our own pace. Even if we all agree that death is sad (we probably do, now that Hatey McLife has left our midst), we will not all process that sadness the same way. It is not for me to tell you that you are too sad about x horrible event, nor is it for you to tell me that I am not sad enough about it. Right?

I'll let you smart, funny people apply that as you will to today's awful news about Jovan Belcher and the shit-storm that arose when a few great commenters made excellent jokes too near that news. I happen to think there's no such thing as "too soon". I think the very notion of "too soon" implies that there's some kind of agreed-upon black-out period on death jokes, which is absurd and wrong. And I think we'd all agree that anyone who says we can never make jokes about tragedies or deaths is wrong and insane. And I think a person who takes what ought to be a personal desire to avoid jokes about a recently deceased person and imposes it on a bunch of other people is a sanctimonious fascist.

So, hey, cut that out!

Hey, thanks for reading. Enjoy your football tomorrow. Let's get back to pointing and laughing at the recently deceased on Monday.


  1. I knew what was coming before I even posted that joke. To be totally honest, I think I was spoiling for the "too soon" fight, just because it's such a baldly and blatantly fucking stupid thing that idiots fling around to make themselves feel morally superior. Especially when flung, as in today's case, at a joke that starts on the tragedy and pivots away from it to point the humor at something else altogether.

    I'm certainly willing to concede that some jokes can be in poor taste to such a degree that it overwhelms their humor and leaves you with a bad taste in your, uh, metaphorical mind-mouth or whatever. (I'll also happily concede that the joke of mine that caused so much ruckus today was hardly anything special.) But people get in such a reflexive hurry to find something to be superior to that they forget to stop and check whether the thing they're getting all bent out of shape about really is what they've decided to think it is. None of the jokes in that post (none of the ones I've seen, anyway) are made at the expense of the victims of this whole Jovan Belcher thing. And even if they were, they could still be good jokes, if they were funny enough.

    So, uh, I guess my point here is that TRT-X is a dillhole? Let's go with that.

    Thanks for the defense here. I like to think that the regular gang knows what's up.

  2. Again, no coincidence that this blog raises the bar for commenters. Please keep it up.


  3. Just saw this. Thanks for the kind words, and support of the commentariat. This was the best week in a long time, thanks in no small part to your work. I even saw a Uwe comment!

    Fortunately, I had real-world fun things to do all day (okay, I went to my kids' sporting events, but either way), so I missed the reaction to Sharting's and my and others' comments until late last night. I can't say anything better than what you just did, so I'll just shut up and say thanks, and +1.

  4. This is just great. I have nothing else to add.

    [stifles "I love you" in throat, swallows deeply, brushes eyes, turns back to football game, over aggressively opens beer]

  5. Shitehawk, words can't describe how much I enjoyed this post.

    Actually, there is one that cums to mind.

    Keep up the good work.

  6. Not to be that guy (note, by saying this I am granted full immunity to indeed, be that guy) but technically I was in fifth place last week. So I'm sending back the can of Spot Shot and requesting half a stick of previously chewed Fruit Stripe gum in its stead.

    /great post

  7. I can't tell you how honored I am to share this with Raysism, as my mother raised me to keep my mouth shut when I wanted to shout expletives.

    Thanks, Shitey.

  8. It's like I don't even know you anymore.

    1. Oh come now. We're close as ever.

      Nice pajamas, by the way.