"Have you heard the one about the brother who passed a cannibal in the woods?"
A friend and I were sitting around the other day with our millions of dollars and our highly satisfactory lives chatting about The Future, and how close we are. Turns out that, while we lack flying cars, cities on clouds, and robot servants who talk like stuttering Speak and Spells, we do have the Internet, and you have to admit that a vast worldwide network of nigh-instantaneous information is pretty damn cool. But where do we go from here? "It's all well and good," we surmised, "that we can play backgammon with someone across the globe or receive insider stock tips in our living rooms, but couldn't this same network also be used to convey humor as well?"
It can, my friends. Welcome to The Future.
But, how, you may ask, is it possible for a cold heartless data transfer scheme to successfully render the subtle nuances and genuine will of good spirit that is present in things such as jokes? It's not easy. There are rules, and you will have to know when to break them. In the words of The Gambler, "Don't fuck up." This is such a delicate craft that it's practically an artform. As such, I hereby unveil:
The New Revised Guide to Internet Funni
(or How To Ha Ha, a guide for the humorless and otherwise retarded)
Although I feel I must warn you: if you need this, it is likely you are already fucked beyond salvation. Let's have a big round of applause for documents that waste the valuable time of both author and audience. After all, isn't that what the internet is for? I'll answer that: yes, it is.
Jokes over the Internet, especially those based around sarcastic or deadpan deliveries, can be pretty tricky to understand. In real life (IRL, for you pasty monstertruckers), things like this are easier to grasp because of inflection or motion. In text-based environments, however, you need to draw on not only your own definitions of humor, but also a couple of assumptions about the forum in which you've deposited your sweet lily ass. If you have trouble getting jokes in the outside world, you're dead in the water. Please turn off your computer and come back when you have at least five things you chuckle to yourself and with others over. It's like a homework assignment. We'll wait.
All acquainted with funni now? Good. I was saying something about knowing who you consort with. Oftentimes, people may make ludicrous statments that will fire an impulse down your neck and require you to take vocal corrective measures. Restrain yourself and think: Is it possible they said that on purpose? Yes, dumbass, it is. This is the internet. On the whole, most of us are intelligent motherfuckers who are blacker than Shaft and know exactly what we're saying. This realization may save you from becoming a punchline. This is what will, eventually, stop us from laughing at you. This is what will earn you respect, adulation, and oral sex from your peers. That is why you're on the internet, isn't it?
The Golden Rule
Now that you have some feeble concept of humor, you should probably know the most basic law of the land. I'll even put it in the center of the screen in all bold caps so it is easy to spot, and you can refer to it throughout the course of your day:
IF YOU HAVE TO EXPLAIN IT, IT ISN'T FUNNY
Simple enough, right? This rule applies to every joke ever. Print this page out, cut out that rule, and hang it above your cubicle. Tattoo it on your dick. Tell two friends to tell two friends. We can stamp out Ruined Jokes (RJ) within our lifetime.
Why is explaining jokes so fatal? Much of humor relies on two aspects: wisdom and conspiracy. If someone doesn't have the prior knowledge to appreciate a quip, that's their fault; however, should you choose to bridge the gap (as it were), not only will the audience still not get the joke, but you'll end up looking like a fool. Not only that, but any explaination of a joke renders it unfunny for all eternity ever. This is scientific fact.
So what can you do when someone doesn't understand a joke? Mock them. Openly and derisively. Prove that you are still in control of the situation. Eventually they'll attempt to find out why your joke was funny, which will be, on the whole, a rewarding experience for them. Everybody funni, now they funni too.
Trolling for Dollars
One of the finest time-honored traditions of internet humor is the art of the troll. Back in the dark days before the World Wide Web, primitive nerds would inscribe ludicrous statements on cave walls and then, eventually, USENET, in hopes that someone would point out their fallacies and argue until they were blue in the face that there is no possible way to use emacs as a web browser, or something equally as trivial. This is the marvel of the internet: everything can be a joke, even things that bear no resemblance to humor whatsoever. Not Funny is the New Funni. Welcome to The Future.
Quite simply, a troll is a lie (i.e. "Jesus was a Communist.") that will trigger a flood of contrary responses (i.e. "Jesus was born two millennia before the advent of communism."). This is fun for a while, but soon gets inane, tiresome. A successful troll, however, will argue the point until they have convinced their quarry that Jesus, in fact, invented Communism. Victory may also be achieved when Godwin's Law is evoked. It's like a bonus round, of sorts.
If you want to do this right, you have to do your research. Troll in subjects you're familiar with. Pay attention to the old classics: alt.alien.vampire.flonk.flonk.flonk, alt.cesium, and especially the humbabba of all elitist troll squadrons, alt.religion.kibology. Kibo and gang have not only flustered most of USENET at one point in time, but have favorite targets, and even the good nature to pull pranks within the group. Remember, the eventual goal of a worthwhile troll is the conversion of a vociferous enemy into a willing student. If you don't feel up to this task, there are other forms of funni, and it's up to you to experiment and figure out what works best.
Please note that this subject is also amply covered in How To Be A Troll, not to mention the numerous books available at your local library.
The Monkeys Nearly Shit Themselves Laughing: Deadpan and Non-Sequitur
In Boston, there is a man who rides his bike through the crowded streets, doing nothing but shouting "HUP!" at regular intervals. You can hear him from blocks away in Harvard Square, the MIT campus, and even posh Newbury Street. I am of the opinion that this gentleman is an unwitting comic genius. Yes, it is possible that he has serious mental deficiencies, but he also serves the purpose of tilting the world just slightly, knocking rational perceptions on their asses and swiping their wallets. This, of course, is the essence of absurd humor.
It is difficult to generate the same levels of funni with straight-faced self-aware absurdism that genuine accidental humor does, but that shouldn't bar you from trying. Oftentimes, these are also the hardest jokes to get, too, because they operate on the principle that the funniest things in life have no punchline. As such, these are jokes without any presentation, and may, in fact, be presented as though the situations contained therein are completely normal. Thus is the crux.
Yes, there are parallels with trolling. The difference is this: a troll is meant to be funny only to those who are in on the joke, but deadpan can be enjoyed by anyone with a healthy sense of humor. I shit you negatory. Take the pinecone out of your peehole and laugh a little.
Getting Through Customs With Your Funni
Sometimes humor relies on upbringing or cultural relevance. This is something you have to keep in mind, especially in worldwide forums: people from other countries may not understand your sense of humor, and you may be lost to describe theirs. This is just the way of things and there's really no use getting a twist in your strokesock about it. The only thing worse than an inadequate sense of humor is the act of blatantly exposing said inadequacy by vocalizing your wild lack of comprehension instead of taking a moment out of your day to consider cultural differences. The phrase "your mother" may not shatter your spine with convulsions of laughter, but you, with your extensive collection of bootlegged behind-the-scenes episodes of Are You Being Served?, have no justification for complaint. Differences of opinion make this world beautiful. Deal.
But, man, you want to make the world laugh? That's going to be tough. It is quite possible that you may have to sit down and do some research, some informative polling. You may have to actually talk to people and get a feel for what flips their switch. Yes, this may require you to be social. Yes, this may require you to learn something. You may have to fuse dry witticisms into your blatant rock-out-with-your-cock-out style of laughmongering. You may have to combine ridiculous non-sequiturs with your incisive and provocative topical humor. You may just have to accept that there's no pleasing everybody, because if everybody laughed at everything, I wouldn't be writing this.
I am, by no means, a central authority on humor, but neither is anyone else. There are many things I don't find funny that cause other, lesser, human beings to wet themselves from giddiness; however, I do know that a lot of folks are simply unable to crack a smile every once and again, whereas I shit myself senseless over baseless vulgarity and provocative verbal jibes alike. I would hope this meager guide would enlighten at least one or two people, or at least serve as a spur of debate: how funny is Funni? And how did you get this far in life with such an obvious disadvantage? Have you ever enjoyed anything ever? I weep for the future.
Next week: E2 attacks your atrocious fashion sense.
(n.b.: it is possible this node may be softlinked to yours because someone felt you, somehow, impeccably illustrated the virtues described above.
congratulations, but please keep in mind it is also possible that a softlink to this node may be a subtle hint that you are up shit creek without a punchline.)