Died in a Blogging Accident has lived up to its name and died... in a blogging accident. That is to say it has concluded. You can still re-live the magic by clicking here to start at chapter 1. For genuine criticism of XKCD, please click the top link to the right (XKCD Isn't Funny).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Comic 939: Brick Joke

Or, Alt-Text: The Works of a Man Who Sucks at Movie Titles. A man who can't see a joke when it's right in front of his face, COMING FROM HIS OWN THOUGHTS.

Title: Arrow; alt-text: 'The Return of the Boomerang' would make a great movie title.

No, Randall. No, it wouldn't make a great movie title. BUT IT WOULD MAKE A GREAT FREAKING TITLE FOR THIS COMIC, YOU HACK! Look! You have this idea, and in the right context - THIS context - it would work for something! You have a TRIPLE meaning here and you just threw it into the alt-text! What's wrong with you?

1) The comic is about a returning boomerang.
2) The comic is a return to the boomerang comics.
3) "Return of the..." is a common title that you'd be parodying.


There's no avoiding it: This comic is awful. It's what Jon Levi would call a Brick Joke; way the heck back in Comic 475, a guy threw a boomerang and it never came back. Where did it go? Well, ladies and gentlemen, here it is. Isn't Randall smart?

Well, no, no he isn't. The original boomerang strips were so bad that they triggered one of Carl's angriest rants. This one is no better. I'm not even going to give him credit for keeping the word count down, because UNNECESSARY DIALOGUE SHOULD NOT BE AN ISSUE FOR A SEASONED CARTOONIST. The last strip put him in some serious debt that he's not going to be out of for a while anyway, so screw that.

So what's the joke here? Simple: There is no joke. There is a reference to an older strip, and referential humor is not humor at all. Remember how everyone was all "The cake is a lie!" when Portal came out? Remember how it wasn't funny? Remember why? It's because simply quoting or otherwise referencing something and not adding into it means you're doing jack in the way of humor. Randall's no stranger to doing jack in the way of humor (counting this post, we've reviewed 27 strips, and 11 of those have had the no joke tag), but somehow, that hasn't ceased ticking me off yet.

There's really not much more to say than that. A guy shoots an arrow and a boomerang comes back. He acts surprised. Why? Was he expecting an arrow to return instead? Did the arrow turn into a boomerang midway through its flight? Did it just drop out of the sky? WE'LL NEVER KNOW. All we know is that a guy shoots an arrow (not a joke) and catches a boomerang (not a joke). That makes it WORSE than the original boomerang strips, which were already all kinds of bad. At least there, the punchlines (something wacky returning, or nothing at all returning) were set up by a guy throwing a boomerang and expecting it back by the last panel. This doesn't even have a setup.

Look. Randall. Referencing old strips that weren't funny will not make you funny. It's a sign of laziness. It's a sign of a poor (non-existent?) sense of humor. It's a sign that you're a freaking hack.

Stop writing drawing posting this garbage.

P.S. Prolific commenter UndercoverCuddlefish notes on the other hate blog:

honestly what makes a brick joke entertaining is the sense of looking back and realizing that the comedian planned for the punchline well in advance

there is a sort of enjoyable release associated with being outwitted by the comedian as the punchline to the brick joke arrives mere moments after you completely forget about the setup

this shit is not even close to comparable

He goes on to make some more decent points, so take a look at the link. I should get him to write guest reviews.


  1. I lied at the unhyphenated xkcdsucks to make you feel better. The problem is that you're wrong about the title. If he used that as the title he would have spoiled the joke, and that would be dumb.

  2. Then the alt-text should have been, "It's too bad that I couldn't title this 'The Return of the Boomerang' without spoiling the punchline."

    All I'm saying is that some awareness from Randall would be nice.

  3. I usually agree with xkcd-sucks, but you're wrong on this. A brick joke /is/ a joke, and my first reaction to this comic was to break up in laughter. A boomerang thrown five hundred comics ago and then promptly forgotten returns, out of nowhere. I found it funny as closure to a joke I hadn't remembered was left open.

  4. I can't wait until he closes the parenthesis that he left open in that other comic, it's gonna be awesome.

  5. Something that is funny when high, under influence, or intoxicated is seldom funny when sober, anon 3:02...

  6. So if I encountered something that is naturally funny while affected by a recreational substance I would be unlikely to find amusement in it, anon 4:01?

  7. Narrowing down on the specifics of one part of a statement does not make a general and broad statement untrue, 4:13.

    If I would say that the Garfield comics I liked when I was young are seldom funny when I read them now. And you would say "there is this one Garfield comic that I find hilarious." Then it does not have any significance to my first statement.

    Tell me, what is funny about XKCD 939? Only when I am completely plastered, then perhaps 939 is "haha, boomerang" funny. But really, it would take incredibly large amounts of alcohol.

  8. I know there are multiple interpretations, anon 4:42. That's why I ask for clarification.

    You must find a massive number of things funny while affected by recreational substances if the truly funny things are reduced to such a tiny percentage, anon 4:01.

  9. Anon 4:13: What? No. That's not what he was saying. Of course you would.

    The problem with the joke is that yeah, there was never any sort of plan for this and it's not funny. This is the laziest kind of brick joke, "throwing something and having it show up later." It's not original. Even Earthworm Jim had this shit.

  10. Exactly! XKCD 939 is like a 4-year old's joke. Something so awesomely absurd happens all of a sudden that it just has to be funny.

    Funny for a 4 year old that is.


  12. There's no such thing as a cock weasel??

  13. Not an X fan, but...November 30, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    "A man who can't see a joke when it's right in front of his face"

    I am sorry to be the first one who tells you this, but the man did see the joke. How do I know that? BECAUSE HE IS THE ONE WHO PUT IT IN HIS WEBCOMIC!

    When you get to this level of hallucinatory perception, you can say whatever you friggin' want. Which is pretty much what you do here. The man simply thought of a joke and decided to put it in the alt-text, and you make a huge point of it not being in the title.