Notes about humor

January 13, 2014 permalink

Charles Addams Mother Goose

Maria Popova posts a wonderful selection of cartoons from Charles Addam’s lesser-known book of Mother Goose rhymes from 1967. Such good stuff, and fun to imagine the crossovers between the classic grim nursery rhymes and his own macabre sense of humor, juxtaposed with his mid-century New York City skylines and deadpan-faced characters.

September 15, 2012 permalink

Shaw and Lee: the Beau Brummels

Some comedy for your Saturday: Shaw and Lee, AKA The Beau Brummels. We saw this Vitaphone short on TCM last week, and were mesmerized by the duo’s Andy Kaufman-esque deadpan delivery of bad jokes and Vaudeville songs (stick with it for at least a couple of minutes!). Strangely modern, or in any case I gather from digging around that this was considered a bizarre, unique act at the time.

Always eat when you are hungry.
Always drink when you are dry.
Go to bed when you’re sleepy.
But don’t forget to breathe or else you’ll die.

November 27, 2011 permalink

Total Recall Commentary Track

I’ve been telling people for years that the Total Recall DVD commentary track is one of the most entertaining bits of meta-entertainment out there, with Paul Verhoeven waxing nostalgic about his directorial artistry while Arnold chuckles through literal recaps of his favorite violent scenes. Now you can enjoy Arnold’s rambling half of the conversation, condensed into a tidy YouTube package!

See also: Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Milius on Conan The Barbarian, a similar collection edited down from that movie’s commentary track, another true gem.

(Via Kottke)

November 11, 2011 permalink

Zippy Meets Family Circus

Life is a circus, Zippy! It can be a circus of pain or a circus of delight!

As the Bil Keane RIP notices started flooding across the net yesterday, my friend Julien reminded me of the bizarre phenomenon of Zippy the Pinhead making a crossover appearance in Family Circus back in 1994 (go look at it, it’s weird!). It wasn’t a single-panel affair: that out-of-context Family Circus strip was a followup to a week in which Bil Keane literally drew his characters into the surreal world of Zippy as a sort of exchange project. From a speech by Zippy artist Bill Griffith:

Here’s an example of something that kind of blew my mind, and a number of readers. I did a number of comic strips in 1994 in which the idea was that Zippy and Griffy were going to, at least Zippy, enter, literally, the world of The Family Circus, a single panel comic. Into the strip a few days I thought, “What the hell, I’ll call Bill Keene. I’ll get his phone number, and I’ll see if he wants to literally jam this strip with me.” I figured the chances were zero, but why not? I called him up; he was incredibly friendly. He lives in Phoenix, where Zippy is published in the local paper. Loves the strip; reads it every day. Y’know, at the end of the phone call I thought, “He’s my blood brother. We’re like the two surreal comic strip artists.”

Behind the sticky-sweet facade of everyone’s favorite round newspaper comic, it’s good to know there was an artist of subversive humor and warmth for his fellow cartoonists, appreciative of both parody and collaboration.

August 14, 2011 permalink

Logically boring

From Lewis Carroll’s Symbolic Logic, which aimed to make logic understandable via quirky syllogisms and illustrated tables:

  1. No interesting poems are unpopular among people of real taste;
  2. No modern poetry is free from affectation;
  3. All your poems are on the subject of soap-bubbles;
  4. No affected poetry is popular among people of real taste;
  5. No ancient poem is on the subject of soap-bubbles.

Conclusion: all your poems are uninteresting.

July 20, 2011 permalink

Wario Monetization Robot

I wanted something nice to have at the office that tell us every time someone make a purchase on our game. Every time we make a buck Wario rings the bell and flash his greedy green eyes. If we made a lot then Wario shoot smoke from his ears!

Wario would approve.

January 16, 2011 permalink

Tom Lehrer Ronald Searle

Awesome thing that I didn’t realize I had on my bookshelf: the Tom Lehrer sheet music songbook I’ve had since I was a kid was illustrated by cartoonist Ronald Searle. I must have been unfamiliar with Searle the last time I looked through this book — his scratchy style complements Lehrer’s acerbic wit nicely.

The whole book, “Too Many Songs By Tom Lehrer with not enough drawings by Ronald Searle”, is available for perusal on Scribd, in case you’re the sort that enjoys songs about masochism, the periodic table, bull fighting, nuclear annihilation, and Ivy League snobbery…

December 24, 2010 permalink

Jack Black in Gullivers Travels Review

To grumble further would be, as the saying goes, akin to pointing my Water toward the Wind. I note that Mr. Black has, in other endeavors, proved himself a Mocker after my own heart, but I can hardly begrudge him the greater emolument that issues from cavorting in the mildly naughty manner of an overgrown tot. I can further suppose that a Child of average Wit or even moderate Dullness — a boy of Nine, let us say, who can be coaxed away from the Wii of a Christmas afternoon — might pass a pleasant interval chuckling at the absurd incongruities that arise when something very large is placed beside something very small.

October 20, 2010 permalink

Physicist’s Goodnight Moon

What happens when a physicist considers the passage of time in Goodnight Moon? Chad Orzel, physics professor and blogger, attempts to measure it using the illustrated passing of the moon versus the wall clocks:

These two methods clearly do not agree with one another, which means one of two things: either I’m terribly over-analyzing the content of the illustrations of a beloved children’s book, or the bunny’s bedroom is moving at extremely high velocity relative to the earth, so that relativistic time dilation makes the six-minute rise of the moon appear to take an hour and ten minutes. Calculating the necessary velocity is left as an exercise for the interested reader.

(Photo credit: Chad Orzel)

March 6, 2010 permalink

Uncle Fester Laughing in Theater

The New York Times has up a nice review of the new Charles Addams exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York:

The city street is dark and deserted. The buildings are empty. There are no witnesses. A lone man carrying a briefcase, after a long day at the office perhaps, approaches a subway staircase. Out of the subterranean gloom, a giant human hand protrudes, its index finger beckoning the office worker, inviting him into the depths. His eyes are wide with astonishment, his face showing the hint of a grin, as if the bizarre, illicit invitation were not entirely unwelcome.  […]

Above is my personal favorite Addams cartoon, perhaps one of my favorite cartoons of all time. His drawings are often cited as finding their humor and inspiration in the macabre — I think their lasting appeal comes more from his ability to find joy in laughing at and rejecting the bleakness of modern life.

November 29, 2009 permalink

Pellet Gunn by Tim Beckhardt

A dog, a cyclops, and others kill some time with the help of wormholes and hobbyist self-modification. Made in 2008.

Pellet Gunn by Tim Beckhardt. Not 100% sure that I get the full story, but it’s great in a non sequitur, underground comix sort of way. His line work and hand-filled blacks are nicely composed, and the animation is fun. Extra points for the Philip Guston painting in the background.

September 22, 2009 permalink

Cho Chabudai Gaeshi — Flip the Table

Taito’s new Cho Chabudai Gaeshi, a game based on a literal interpretation of the Japanese idiom “flip the table” (chabudai gaeshi). It gladdens my heart to see new weird games being made for the arcade. At least it’s easier to relate to than Boong-Ga Boong-Ga.

As one commenter on Kotaku notes, “If they localized this in the US it’d have to be called ‘F*ck This’”

(Via Offworld)

July 1, 2009 permalink

From pathos to bathos

The Three Stooges attempted pathos in Cash and Carry (1937). The Stooges arrive at their home, a dilapidated shack in the city dump, only to find a little boy they don’t know doing his homework at the kitchen table. The Stooges do not react with great sentiment to this child. Larry pipes up, “Come on, beat it.” But, then, they realize that the boy is wearing a leg brace and needs the support of a crutch to stand and walk. The boy tells the Stooges that his mom and dad are gone and he’s being raised by his big sister. Moe, normally gruff and scowling, smiles sympathetically and softens his voice. He has never acted more tenderly to another individual. But the other two Stooges do not show much concern. […] Seconds after meeting the crippled orphan boy, Curly accidentally hits Moe in the head with a pipe and it’s back to their usual comedy business. A pathos comedy was, in the end, no more significant to the Stooges than a haunted house comedy.

From Why You Want to Bring Me Down?, a great comparison of the use (and perhaps more often, misuse) of pathos in comedies, from Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd to Adam Sandler and Robin Williams.

June 30, 2009 permalink

Animatronic Luxo Jr.

An animatronic version of Pixar’s Luxo Jr. has appeared outside Disney’s studios in Hollywood, performing a couple of different shows depending on the time of day. That’s some fluid movement there! Even in robotic form, the character exudes more pathos than most animated film characters do in their respective movies. (Via Boing Boing Gadgets, which has the other Luxo performance video handy for watching)