Jan 232004

Dave Barry, Jim Treacher, Ken Goldstein, and James Lileks are sometimes funny. This, for instance, is funny. Several other bloggers have been funny once or twice. On to business.

The droll Frank J puts me in mind of Max Beerbohm, except that Max won the prize for Latin verse at Oxford, distinguished himself as a caricaturist as well as a writer, died forty years ago, always dressed immaculately, never wrote about politics, and was funny. Of course it is possible that my own defective sense of humor is to blame, and that ringing endless changes on the three themes of Rumsfeld’s fierceness, Aquaman’s lameness, and Glenn Reynolds’ puppy-blending really is hilarious. Yeah. Credit where due, however, for this bit, in which he complains of readers who have the effrontery to point out errors in spelling and grammar on his site, which are obviously due to carelessness, because, you see, his SAT scores were well over the cutoff for a lifetime exemption from proofreading. Now that was funny.

Scrappleface has become the victim of his own gimmick. Imagine glum Scott Ott sitting down to the keyboard each morning, sighing as he forces himself to grind out yet another news parody item. Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto… Basically there’s only one job in the world for right-wing political humor, and it’s taken.

Those wacky foreigners and their crazy customs! Montesquieu did this number 200 years ago, and Persian Letters wasn’t funny either.

Hey, In Passing! Found humor is to humor what found art is to art.

Hey, Margaret Cho! If women shrieking profanely were funny, then Courtney Love would be funny. Come to think of it, Courtney Love might be funny, were it possible to laugh and grind one’s teeth at the same time.

Humor, unlike literary criticism or political rumination, pays extremely well. Actual funny-type humorists are in high demand and make actual money-type money. Sometimes they spend it on whiskey and cigars and grow old and gouty like Barry and P.J. O’Rourke; sometimes they spend it on smack and blow and grow pale and spectre-thin and die, like Lenny Bruce and Doug Kenney. Either way they stop being funny eventually; humor’s tough in the first place and impossible to sustain. Blog humorists, on the other hand, don’t gather enough from their own efforts to pay the cable bill. The conclusion will be left as an exercise for the reader.

(Update: Jim Treacher comments. Andrea Harris points out that Margaret Cho pays the cable bill and then some, which is true, and worrisome. Ilyka Damen comments. Frank J compares me serially to a jackass, George Meredith, and a muckadoo, complains that I neglected to cite his well-known hatred of monkeys, reassures us that he too can pay his cable bill, and does some other funny stuff I may have missed. Paul Dubuc chastens me in the comments for forgetting Agenda Bender, from my own blogroll no less. Yes, Agenda Bender is funny.)

  45 Responses to “Anti-Blogwatch: Humor Edition”

  1. Ouch!

    I’m glad I never aim for anything higher than being amusing.

    (I must admit, I found the InstaPuppy thing funny. The first time.)

  2. Conclusion: Blog readers are cheap-ass bastards! (Or, more plausibly, we suck.)

  3. "Sometimes they spend it on whiskey and cigars and grow old and gouty like Barry and P.J. O’Rourke; sometimes they spend it on smack and blow and grow pale and spectre-thin and die, like Lenny Bruce and Doug Kenney."

    That’s funny.

  4. This is the funniest thing I’ve ever read. Or… am I laughing at you?

  5. Lileks is actually best in the Bleats, which is still unpolished enough so that clichs of composition have not yet interposed themselves in the little insights
    (eg. “distinguished himself” “dressed immaculately” are clichs of composition).

    Think of Beerbohm as a poet rather than a humorist and the inclination to imitate will disappear.

  6. Wow, that’s some pretty illustrious company you have me with. I better hurry up and write something ha-ha funny on my site to greet all the new visitors.

    But I think you might be a little confused with regards to my future path choices: all that smack bloated Bruce up as opposed to spectra-thinning him, though I guess Kenney could have gotten so waif-like that he was actually blown off of that Hawaiian cliff.

    And just where the hell were you last night? I was being all funny and shit!

  7. Ron: I wasn’t aware of imitating Beerbohm, who never wrote in this style as far as I can recall, but if you say so. Thanks for pointing out "dressed immaculately," which is nearly as bad as "clichs of composition." However, the topic is everyone else’s deficiencies, not my own.

    Wing-Ding: It’s not that I really think you’re funny, I just owed you one. As for last night, the moment the word “blog” escaped my mouth I was turned away by the door-Nazi, who must have figured if I was associated with you the place would be better off without.

  8. “Clichs of composition” is my own, I think. What’s a better word for it? It means some short phrase that imitates elevated speech, lifted too many times from some original. “Who have the effrontery to point out” is another example.

    I thought you were imitating Beerbohm because of it, in the register sought. It doesn’t happen in Beerbohm though.

    Compare your “dressed immaculately” with Beerbohm:

    “He cared for his wardrobe and his toilet-table not as a means to making others admire him the more, but merely as a means through which he could intensify, a ritual in which to express and realize, his own idolatry.”

    Spot any clichs? No.

  9. I plead guilty to being inferior to Beerbohm. A better term for “cliché of composition” is “cliché.”

  10. The bare “clich” includes too much, and fails to suggest that it comes from polishing. If you just blurted something out, you’d get clichs, but not these. These go for the tone of educated speech with a pretense of precision.

    An example of a flat-out clich might be “ball’s in your court.”
    This is not a clich of composition.

  11. Mr. Hardin:
    Russian philologist Yuri Lotman wrote that every literal symbol contains in itself the memory of all preceding uses. In this sense, every stable word combination is a clich. Clichs of composition could actually enrich text – in two situations:
    – if used in a way to emphasize primary, root meaning of overquotation
    – if used to bring overquotation to it’s absurdity, which is much more entertaining.
    An excellent example of the latter is work of Daniil Kharms. He opined that any reuse of existing expression or text -quotation, translation or parody should be taken as an opportunity of complete departure from the field of it’s all previous meanings. (I imagine what could he have done with my last awkward phrase). From "Occasions", 1937:
    …Lev Tolstoy loved children very much. Sometimes, he’d wake up in the morning, catch some kid and would start caress his hair until he’d be called to breakfast.
    For the interested, look here

  12. Sorry, there are no permalink there, you’ll have to scroll down a bit, to the actual stories.

  13. Regrettably, havin’ not been named at all in this post, I am still the least recognized "funniest blogger in the blogosphere" in the opinion of my three daily readers. So there!

  14. First you make me anxious about being too serious, and now you make me anxious about trying to lighten up. I’m screwed.

  15. You guys are smart!

  16. I don’t understand what the problem is, if any. I’m seeing nothing but comedy in all of these comments. Or is that clich?

  17. I haven’t mentioned puppy blending in quite some time (that humor is mainly continued by others). Isn’t one of my main repeated attempts at humor my hatred of monkeys… or have you ever actually read any of IMAO?

  18. Nah. I just make shit up.

  19. Thrash and thrash alike.

    I love it when blog wars start up. Next he’ll have you destroyed in an upcoming post, and you’ll compare him to some talentless hack from the bowels of the 19th century and I’ll sit on the sides and

    laugh. I think you’re BOTH funny.

  20. Man, this cat just took apart my two favorite humor sites. IMAO and Scrappleface.

    I think that makes him the worlds unfunniest (is that a word?) people.

  21. Frank J’s humor is wasted on the likes of you. *Shakes head* May a thousand ninja monkeys show up at your door.

  22. A couple already have.

  23. Frank they just dont understand the essence of IMAO…let it pass frank..

  24. I take issue with your comments regarding Frank J’s website. His posts are possibly the funniest written words I have ever come across.

    There are no words to describe the sadness I feel, when at times (like this one) I discover how fundamentally different people are.

  25. Yes

  26. You have been warned. A blog war may be arising my friend. The Alliance doesn’t take kindly to smart asses.

  27. RIGHT. You, Mr. Ghodofthemachine, had better just WATCH OUT:

    You do not want to know me. I am the moving shadow glimpsed in the darkness. I am the footsteps you thought you heard behind you. I live the life of a ghost, but my attacks have substance. If you are a hippie or a Communist, then the barrel of my gun will be the last thing you see.

    For I am America’s vengeance incarnate.

    And I also like to write humor on a webpage.

    I am Frank J.

    Well, he is. I’m just copying it for your war records. There IS going to be a war. My blog (which is to Frank what Andorra is to teh United States) happens to be The Lite Fantastic, and I’m neutral-

    In the sense that the tanks are warming up and I’m loading the mortars-

    Thrash and thrash alike. Either you or Frank has but to say the word, and the Imao Alliance / God of the Machine War is ON.





  29. Somebody is going to get an ear bitten off.

  30. Cool idea muckadoo – What sort of traffic spikes have you seen? It’s an old idea, btw. You might have had a better spike if you would have called Glenn Reynolds a puppy blender. Oh, nevermind, that’s been done.

    The probelm with your tactic is the spike is temporary. Since your site sucks, there is no reason to come back.


  31. Come on people; let’s be nice.

    …wait a sec; I forgot – he insulted me! Let’s be mean!

    Blood! I demand blood!

  32. At least this gathered together other sites for me to visit who write funny posts.

    Lately Frank J keeps getting bogged down by work which is impeding his productivity. He needs to do something about that.

    I am very selfish and want Frank J to concentrate on writing funny things that I can read. I do not think that is too much to ask.

    Frank: Can’t you get a job in Government where you don’t have to really work and can write more?

  33. DUDE, like your site REALLY, and I mean REALLY BLOWS.

  34. IMAOnauts:

    Aaron’s got no religion, he dont need no friends
    Got all he want and he dont need to pretend
    Dont try to reach him, cause hed tear up your mind
    He’s seen the future and he’s left it behind

  35. Osbourne Iommi Butler Ward : heres a little rhyme of mine

    Aaron’s got no religion cause he can’t make a decision.
    He can’t handle the truth or see Frank J’s vision
    Aaron won’t tear up my mind, cause I’m not politicaly blind. So watch yourself punk or IMAO we’ll break your spine.

  36. After making my first and last visit to your site, I was set to take you on for ripping into two of my favorite blogs.

    But then — after reading the Twenty Random Facts to answer the question, "Who the hell does this guy think he is?" — I realized that you are the kind of person who is the last resource I would ever look to for commentary on humor.

    If it gives you satisfaction to trot out fifty-cent words to criticize someone’s efforts, you should be well satisfied.

  37. Oh dear, I haven’t read any of the mentioned sites. Off for a wander around the comedy blogosphere.

    (As I have yet to choose a favourite, I’m just going to stand on the sidelines enjoying the spectacle and cheering whichever monkey or machine seems to be winning.)

  38. You guys are grumpy!

  39. How could you neglect Agenda Bender? It’s funny, and I first read it through your blogroll.

  40. IMAO and ScrappleFace are not funny? HAH! Now THAT’S funny.

    Hey, I bet you’d LOVE BartCop.com though. Good stuff there.

  41. I wish I had a posse, too.

  42. Your sense of humor blows, and if I hadn’t taken my fiber today I’d fart in you general direction. . . but I’d shit myself! HA, but I might as well go for it, slinging the soiled undergarment at your already soiled visage. By the by, the sites you’ve posted made me pass out from boredom. Maybe you should read more on Frank J.’s site instead of falling into the category of a humorless youth with more hair than wit, and more faults that hairs?

  43. Your sense of humor blows, and if I hadn’t taken my fiber today I’d fart in you general direction. . . but I’d shit myself! HA, but I might as well go for it, slinging the soiled undergarment at your already soiled visage.

    Frank J., call off your Brownshorts!


  44. Hmm, how do you know Frank sent out anyone? Maybe they’ve acted on their own accord, and who is Godwin??

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