Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Roundup

Favorites and duds from today's commenting.

Favorites, in no particular order:

Here's a funny, silly one-liner from Lionel Osbourne in the Puck-In-The-Crate Competition post. I like this joke - it just kind of lays itself out there without any special (or obvious, anyway) structure. We use the word "breezy" from time to time to describe jokes that have a certain simple, uncomplicated style. Unbelievably, appearing relaxed, informal, and cheerily brisk actually is a definition of the word, and to bring that characteristic to your one-liner, you want to work on translating that definition, piece by piece, into practical terms: go for a plain, conversational tone, and pare it down as much as possible into something short and efficient. What's the easiest, most natural way I can make this joke? Some people have a genuine knack for it, and I've always felt like Lionel Osbourne is one of them. It's a style that almost always plays well when coupled with a solid angle.

Here's a very good Manti Te'o joke from Bevraj of Choice in the Airballed Free Throw post. This joke predictably earned a huge number of +1s, and that's okay. Get those Manti Te'o jokes in now while the audience is swollen with tourists and the angles haven't yet been picked clean and sucked dry. This stuff is still fresh and still very, very funny. Also, and I say this to everyone here: I really think you should be dismissing trash talk and heckling. There's an argument to be made that good commenters don't need that shit and shouldn't have to put up with it. More importantly, if you give a shit about exerting control over the comments as we once could with the approval system, use the dismiss button to discourage this crap. If heckling shows up prominently among the 26 replies of the most popular comment in a post, every idiot tourist and uninitiated newbie is going to assume that's just something that happens on Deadspin, and then everyone will be dealing with it all the time. This is already happening, but I swear to God if every Deadspin commenter deleted all trash talk immediately after reading it, it would all be gone within a month. Also, later, this hilarious joke in the Sandusky Homeowners Insurance post is so much better than its five +1s would seem to indicate. I suppose many commenters skip right past these posts. Great joke.

Here's a terrific screenplay joke from RMJ=H in the Eagles/Browns Cat Fight post. The name Banner would not be enough to make a Hulk joke in this post without layering on silly details like this. This is almost exactly the whole difference between the great Deadspin joke-makers and the horde of randos, that ability to sense how much and what kind of setup a particular angle will need in order to go from an idea to a complete joke. All the time we see jokes based around this kind of, well, flimsy reference - a name or circumstance or even a single word that reminds someone of something else. 90% of these jokes are made by burners and idiots and amount to this reminds me of that, and we all groan when we see them. It's not enough to say this thing is like that thing, and this joke is an example of just how much more can be done with a reference. He didn't stop there, and he didn't even stop with a line from one of the Hulk movies or having his character execute an action or recite something recognizable to Hulk fans. This joke makes use of the reference as a vehicle for the author's own totally original creation, and that's the whole idea.

Ah, the cognitive delay. Here's a pitch-perfect one-liner from DougExeter, also in the Eagles/Browns Cat Fight post. Your average set-up/knockdown joke has the whole setup, premise, punchline thing going on, where a premise is presented as part of a carefully constructed setup that primes the listener/reader/viewer for the fall, the punchline, that moment when the air is let out of the balloon. Some of my favorite jokes incorporate, as part of the setup, that extra step when the final assembly of all the component parts requires that glance back at the source. You read the post from start to finish and retain, for the most part, the post's meaning, the general idea. Then you read the joke, and in this case, the joke deals in specifics. So you gathered the meaning from the post but can't quite apply it to the joke, and theres a moment when you reference the post for the specifics, for the key that will decode the joke. In the best cases, that moment is just a flash and does not require a full rereading of the post, just the briefest hurried mental shuffling through the details that stuck in the background of the meaning you gathered moments earlier. The whole thing slides into place, and the laugh is yanked out of you. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to leave the reference out, to rely upon the reader to complete the assembly by incorporating language from outside your joke. Good shit. And later, here's a real Idiot joke in the Manti Te'o' Photo post. Very funny. I love this stuff.

Here's a hilarious dig at Darryl Strawberry from Eddie Murray Sparkles in the (excellent) Crazy Half-Inning post. This joke earned the coveted Idiot +1. I think that's appropriate, because the joke does seem to derive some of its humor from the observation that, yes, it's a goofy idea. I also think it's a pretty damn funny shot at Darryl Strawberry. The joke is not about how goofy it is, it's about Darryl Strawberry at rock bottom. In other words, Idiot jokes need not derive all their humor from pointing inward at their own goofiness, but that is usually a characteristic. I laughed at the idea of Darryl Strawberry "scoring" a Nutella cardboard house at Costco, at the specificity of the joke, and at the creative (and, yeah, goofy) use of the phrase "box score". Going for the Idiot thing is tricky, because you don't want to undercut your joke by winking too obviously at its inherent goofiness. On the other hand, sometimes your joke's angle is silly and out there, so you incorporate a tone or presentation that highlights that characteristic, and everyone laughs and calls you an idiot and it's great.

And here's a characteristically bizarre and wonderful dialogue joke from SavetoFavorites, also in the Crazy Half-Inning post. Dialogue jokes are great, and they've become almost as common a joke type on Deadspin as the one-liner, and I still happen to think SavetoFavorites is the very best at making them. You can use a dialogue joke to tease out a thin angle, or you can use it to express a vague idea or a funny mood, or you can even use it to position a knockout reference, and in almost all of those cases, the reason you'd go there is for the opportunity to impart personality (sometimes literally). The commenters who feel comfortable with silliness and tend to lean towards the less obvious angles generally tend to do well with this kind of presentation, and SavetoFavorites is the silliest of all geese and seems to conjure his bizarre angles out of thin air.

Have a look at this mostly funny pyramid in the I Know A Liar post, featuring DougExeter, SavetoFavorites, Steve U, TomSpanks12, and others. There are one or two brutal entries in there among the funny ones.

Oh, this is so fucking funny, from Raysism in the I Know A Liar post. All parts of this joke are funny. The stat is funny for likely being bullshit. Raysism's really silly way of poking fun at the tricky names in the Manti Te'o story is funny. Even (and especially) the super-straightforward delivery is funny. It's a great joke, very simple and totally ridiculous. Awesome job. And later, here's a clever wordplay joke in the Flattened Coach post. So, here's how this joke goes: Raysism watches the video and thinks up basketball terms that would seem to apply. Charge seems appropriate enough, but it would clearly not be enough on its own: dur hur Jackson was also called for a charge or dur hur Jackson should have been called for a charge, etc. That's the joke every burner would make. How to work the charge in there? Look for an alternate meaning, and then find a way to present the alternate meaning in such a way that you have actually obscured the basketball term. And so when we say that a wordplay joke is clever, we're not just talking about the pun, we're talking about how the pun is positioned, how the dual meanings are obscured until the last possible moment. Puns are cute, but a pun is elevated by the reveal, and this is a great fucking reveal. The charge/charge thing is almost the smallest part of this joke. It's all about the presentation. Also, I predict we are mere hours away from all the juice being gone from this kind of joke, in the Vince Young post. It worked this time, but I do not think it will work by Monday. Still, I did laugh. And finally, this is definitely the best Samoa/Samoa joke to surface in the Manti Te'o story, from the Ronaiah Tuisasopo post. This is a terrific joke, one of the day's very best.

This got almost no love, from Same Sad Echo in the Flattened Coach post, but it is hysterical. It's very much like a Far Side cartoon, and I love it. And I know I've covered this before, but I absolutely love the little non-dialogue parts of dialogue jokes, like [averts eyes]. Not only do they give the joke a visual, they also give the author a fun and productive way of imparting timing on the joke. Same Sad Echo could have gone with something like 11 Players: [avert eyes], but by using three (or however many) names, he controls how quickly you progress through the joke, and that's something to consider once you remember that virtually all spoken jokes rely heavily upon the actual literal timing and rhythm of their delivery. When you can find little tricks that allow you to impart timing and rhythm into your written jokes, you've given them yet another avenue to humor.

I needed a moment with this joke from The Amazing Sneijderman in the Flattened Coach post, but I got there eventually. Again, the guts to leave the reference outside the actual joke, to let it float out there and let the reader work their way to it via their own intuition. I love it. In this case, the reference might be just a bit unavailable to the casual reader, but that's okay. The payoff for those who have access is probably worth sacrificing the experience of casual readers. Maybe the "ball don't lie" thing could be positioned a little bit more explicitly, maybe not, but there's definitely something gratifying about figuring it out with little evidence, and anyone could forgive The Amazing Sneijderman for preserving that dynamic instead of opening up the joke a bit.

Nothing made me laugh quite as much as this outrageous lyrical joke from Steve U in the Baltimore PD Hype Video post, and so it is your Comment of the Day. First of all, it's hilarious. Second of all, the balls-to-the-walls-iness of it is thrilling. And it somehow genuinely captures the awkwardness of the hype video, which is perhaps its best characteristic. It's amazing how much mileage you can get out of a simple word choice, like shuffle instead of step. Shuffle can be understood to indicate uncertainty, and even if that's not what Steve U had in mind, that's what is accomplished, and it really adds a lot to the joke. I like a daring joke - even bad ones are unlikely to end up in the Duds out of respect for their author's ambition. I also like to think I am laughing along with the author, and it's hard to imagine Steve U not laughing his ass off as he imagined this thing up and put it together. Great joke. And here's a fairly ingenious dig in the Vince Young post. So sad and so, so good. This could have also been the Comment of the Day. Wonderful.

And finally, here's a funny and yucky quote from Madoffs Mets in the . . . umm, the Manti Te'o post from 3:45pm today (there are so fucking many). I like the simple presentation, presenting only the quote and keeping it as direct as possible. It's a bold, funny, and easily understood idea, so let the idea do the work. It takes confidence, because you don't want to leave your joke short of the mark, but that's a pretty decent rule of thumb, one we've covered before: the stronger and more directly related your joke idea, the less you want to clutter it up with setup and presentation. Good job.

Total Fucking Duds

This is today's lone dud, from some dingus called ChrisBlank in the Ronaiah Tuisosopo post, and it's here because it's boring and uninspired and I really don't care at all that a bunch of bonehead randos yucked it up. BOOOOOOOOO! Boring boring boring.

Okay! That's it! Have a great weekend, and keep an eye out for a Week in Review thinger either tomorrow or Sunday. We're back at it next week.

Thanks for reading. How about a Friday DUAN?


  1. Bev,

    I think what Shitehawk is saying is that you should have dismissed my 'piggyback' attempt in your Airballed Free-Throw post.

    Love, cobra.

  2. Holy Mary Mother of God, that was inspired. +1

  3. This must have taken an afternoon to write. This place is like the old deadspin.

  4. Get out of my head!

    Seriously, that is freaky how you know how we think through jokes. I couldn't have described how I came to my charging/coach joke any better, and I wrote the fucking thing.