Destroying Humor

Geeks like to think of themselves as wacky and zany people who nobody knows what crazy thing they’ll do next because they’re so chaotic and random! They’ll be the first to tell you that they have a great sense of humor and are always cracking up their friends and making the norms think they’re insane. Of course, this is all relative.

As we’ve discussed, most geeks seem to think humor consists solely of reciting things they saw on television or movies, regardless of context or audience. We’ve also seen how some geeks think that nothing’s funnier than the thought that someone who actually couldn’t care less would be appalled by whatever the geek is reading, which is why Johnny Ryan can pay his bills.

There is a third type of geek, however, and this is the one with absolutely no sense of humor whatsoever. Literally. Any attempt they make at humor is done as though they once heard the definition of the word recited to them over a walkie-talkie by someone reading it phonetically. In the best attempts one can sometimes discern the trace elements of humor in the sample, and in the worst attempts the recipient of the “joke” is merely baffled. Since so many geeks are little more than high-functioning autistics, it’s not surprising that some should have such a poor sense of humor. It is also surprising how many geeks who regularly trade in sarcasm can’t seem to recognize it when it’s aimed at them, unless it’s directly pointed out.

Unfortunately this will not stop them from not only making “jokes” but also “helping” others with their jokes. They will read something funny on a blog or website and then decide to improve it in the comments. There are several ways of doing this:

why-so-serious1) Restating the joke completely. It’s unclear why this would improve it, but you can bet that if you have a gag involving a fireman wearing red suspenders to keep his pants up, at least one geek will show up to suggest that he use the suspenders to assist in the keeping up of his pants.

2) Restating the joke with only one element slightly changed. In the example above, another geek will ask if the fireman’s blue suspenders also keep his pants up.

3) Making the joke go on longer (Type A). This is often seen in the case of a brief parody of something. The geek will come in and attempt to extend the conceit on longer (because, after, more is always better and nothing should ever end!). While they may stumble across an angle the original writer didn’t think of, they will inevitably make the entire affair run on to such an extent that the original writer will have every regret he wrote the thing in the first place.

4) Making the joke go on longer (Type B). This geek will see a list of ten things, described as a list of ten things, and then point out that the writer “forgot” items eleven and twelve.

5) Making the joke more “accurate” (Type A). This geek will fix the joke by correcting some trivial detail that the writer ignored on purpose, oblivious to the fact that while the correction may make the joke more “factually accurate”, it also ruins whatever was funny about it in the first place.

6) Making the joke more “accurate” (Type B). This geek completely missed out on the idea that what he read was a joke and will feel inclined to point out everything about the piece that is outright wrong or “highly unlikely”. While he might be amusing to others present, he himself has been betrayed by his utter lack of humor.

7) Relating the joke back to himself. This geek is unable to see how anything could be funny or interesting unless he’s involved, and therefore will use this opportunity to relate a tale about himself which may, if you’re especially lucky, even be remotely tangential to the topic at hand.

8) Offering suggestions. Even when the original writer asks his audience for other examples of whatever he is pointing out, this geek rises to the occasion by providing items that are not at all what was asked for, but are nevertheless “funny” because they’re a reference to something else.

9) Meme-ing it up. Whether it’s Chuck Norris, Lolcats, All Your Base, or something similar, this geek has never seen an Internet joke he doesn’t think is hilarious. For him, any joke can be improved by somehow shoehorning in whatever the flavor of the month is. This also applies to previous jokes by the same writer. Just because the original author is ready to move on to different things doesn’t mean his audience is!

Not only will none of these make the original joke any funnier, but they’ll also be joined by the other geeks who will be suggesting the addition of MST3K and Kids in the Hall references, turning the entire event into a dismal unfunny swamp. The nature of humor is to subvert expectations, but geeks always demand everything be exactly as they expect it to. Reading comments on humorous articles is a loser’s game, and even writing such articles is pretty much a task only for the brave or foolish.

It may not be as funny but dammit, they can’t let this ignorance of Buffy chronology go unchallenged, and that’s why geeks LOVE destroying humor.

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17 Responses

  1. I was going to attempt a response wherein I systematically did everything on the list. But then I realized I’d have to, you know, think and stuff. So I didn’t. But it would have been funny.

    Yeah. Heh heh.

  2. I for one am slapping my knee heartily at the mere thought of it, sardu!

  3. LOL You left out how sometimes they pretend to be trolls because they think thats funny

    Also, they actually point out things aren’t accurate sometimes

  4. This post would’ve been better if you referred to Torgo, the Master, and/or Eegah. I am very disappointed.

    Also, I have no idea what you were referring to with point #5. Have you ever even been around a geek?

  5. Today the United States House of Representatives voted to make tomorrow, 3/14, “Pi Day”.

    Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) voted against it, on classically humor-destroying grounds:

    “I cannot support Pi Day as just one day. It should go on forever. I voted “Nay.” It passed 391-10.”

    One can almost hear the “Um, actually … ” at the beginning.

  6. One particularly obnoxious bit is when the geek quotes the original bit of humor but *literally* rewrites it, putting different words in the mouth of the original poster, with the added response “Fixed your typo.”

    Man, if I could eradicate one thing from all the Internet, it’d probably be a toss-up between that and people who say “loose” when they mean “lose.”

  7. […] Sadly, this scalpel-fine dose of tough love is on a much slower schedule now, but what’s been posted already is nearly enough. […]

  8. its mostly human nature that does this. ive seen plenty of groupings of people of the non-geek sort that drive this same ugly car.

    but in following just that trend, a pattern is created. once in a rare while something is born (as you pointed out- unexpected) that really makes the whole process worth it; just for the purpose of setting up a better joke.

    mind you, i think MOST of what we do on a day to day basis is a joke that got run into the ground long ago. we just never thought it could possibly be funny because its so commonplace now.

  9. Thank you for these great GREAT article, from spain.

  10. “. . . since so many geeks are little more than high functioning autistics . . .”

    Ha ha! It’s funny because you made an incredibly offensive (not to mention stupid) crack about how being a geek is essentially the same thing as having a tragically debilitating developmental disease that harms millions of people…in an article about how bad geek humor is! HA HA HA! OMG THE METAHUMOR!

    Seriously, though, fuck that noise. I can understand your frustration with the uglier, more hypocritical aspects of geekdom, and I agree that geek humor can be unbearably horrible, but–irritating and cultish though they may sometimes be–geeks are human beings who deserve some modicum of respect, something that you seem to have forgotten amid your eagerness to mock them for the unforgivable crimes of liking antiheroes and being somewhat hypocritical about feminism.

  11. Actually Jeremiah.. you are the one who has it wrong.. he got it right. “High Functioning Autism” is pretty much real, and as it states.. its is a form of autism that doesn’t present developmental issues, and shows preservation of linguistic and cognitive development.

    i myself have Asperger’s Syndrome wich is high functioning autism… while we are in a ways socially inept we are by no means developmentally challenged (we tend to be from average to high IQ individuals)… learn yerself a bit before showing people how little you know.

    i, for one, as a high functioning autistic, am not offended =)

    as for the articles.. loving them xD

    and guilty on some instances.. then again.. this usually happens in a circle of fellow geeks so the infringement is pretty much rendered moot =P

  12. It’s pretty scary how the comments often reflect just how accurate these articles are. Behold, Jesus has an accuracy attack!

    Granted, I know “Jesus” is a fairly common name in some parts of the world, but given the “offensive humor” article, you gotta wonder.

    Anyway, thought I’d share a quote by A. M. Stewart, featured in Ken Burns’ The Civil War. I was struck at how it had shades of this article in it … and we’re talking about the mid-19th century here:

    “Almost every known trade, profession or calling has its representatives in our regiment. Tailors, carpenters, masons and plasterers, molders, and glass blowers, paddlers, and rollers, machinists, and architects, printers, bookbinders, and publishers, gentlemen of leisure, politicians, merchants, legislators, judges, lawyers, doctors, preachers.

    Some malicious fellow might ask the privilege of completing the catalogue by naming jailbirds, idlers, loafers, drunkards, and gamblers. But we beg his pardon, and refused the license.”

  13. @Trev-MUN: too little to late i noticed i didnt include a last name.. *i did now :D*

    my Name is Jesus Rivera… i hail from mexico where the name is.. well popular enough…

    though Jeremia’s assesment on autims being a ‘disease’, and a “tragically debilitating” one at that is wrong in so many levels and possibly a bit demeaning… and by no means was my post an attack on him… we Aspies can still sometimes come off.. a bit wrong, while high functioning autistics we still dont get a full grasp of social conventions.

    and yeah.. i would agree on the accuracy of the articles xD
    its a sad thing they’re not being made anymore =/

  14. I am STILL getting comment-notification emails from when someone writes a 6A-type novel on the comments board for your “Libertarianism” entry.

    Your blog is the tits. I wish you’d write more, you talented so-and-so.

  15. […] siis nörteille (olmeille) nauraminen, hyvällä ja itseironisella tavalla se on hauskaa. Myös opettavaista on se. Ja voi että nämä stereotypiat ovat […]

  16. This post is relevant because it explains the comments on all the other posts on this site. I feel your pain OP

    For geeks, the Internet is serious business.

  17. […] the arts in general but we’ll get to that later on when it matters. On the other hand, is a whole heap of uncomfortable stereotyping which reduces my identity as a person to traits that are not the same […]

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