Who’s on First (Trombone)?

I mentioned yesterday how Mort Winkerbean’s mental acuity has vastly improved since he’s been in the home. But lately it’s Batiuk’s mind that’s got me worried: is it mere laziness or encroaching senility that produces what passes for jokes around here these days? This must be a repurposed Scapegoat marching band gag. Dinkle’s disparaged his musical proficiency before, so I gather Mort hasn’t the chops to handle first trombone. But…”a third trombonist” joining the band? Mort’s the only trombonist, regardless of which part he’s playing. Would another trombonist automatically promoted to first chair, bumping Mort to third?



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

19 responses to “Who’s on First (Trombone)?

  1. Rusty Shackleford

    What is with Batty’s obsession with old people? He has Crankshaft which is nothing but old people, yet he still feels the need to feature them in FW.

    Is he just trying to pander to the typical newspaper reader? But do they even find this crap to be funny?

  2. SpacemanSpiff85

    Also, everyone knows the proper term is “tromboner”.

  3. Epicus Doomus

    That was my first thought too, that this is a recycled marching band gag, as it makes no sense whatsoever here. Talk about lazy and hacky, he can’t even be bothered to re-use an old gag that fits the situation better. Batiuk clearly just gave up while finishing out the 2015 strips, as December has been a real pile of garbage even by his low standards.

  4. I can see the skeleton of a joke here, something about how Morte is so terrible that a non-existent musician is better than he is…but it’s so poorly constructed that if you think about it for more than 23 seconds, the joke vanishes and the whole thing makes no sense.

  5. Okay, so the third panel should really be “No, Morte–if we get two more trombonists, you can play the third trombonists’ part!”

  6. Epicus Doomus

    BC: On the other hand, though, Morty is nothing less than a medical miracle. Isn’t it amazing how Westviewians overlook completely remarkable transformations? A few years ago Funky took his father to the food court at the mall (seriously) for Father’s Day and Morty was basically comatose. Then he started smoking cigarettes and now, all of a sudden, he’s learned the trombone AND how to set up awful punchlines. Yet no one seems particularly impressed. Cory is another good example of this phenomenon. Darin’s nose too.

  7. Rusty

    Why isn’t Dinkle living there too? He’s clearly a peer of these old coots.

  8. billytheskink

    So this is basically the same joke I like to tell about my time in the middle school band, that I was first chair trombone… until we got a second trombone player, just told in the most awkward way possible. I think that’s what is happening here anyways.

  9. Well, some things never change, even though Tom Batiuk likes to think otherwise. Over the course of 40 years, we’ve gone from young people being snarkily abused by a condescending band directior, to old people being snarkily abused by the same condescending band director.

  10. Do even band directors find Dinkle funny. I wouldn’t if I were them so it amazes me that we still have this old idiot being tactless, insensitive and grandiose.

  11. Rusty Shackleford


    I think band directors liked the marching band jokes with Dinkle. Our band room in high school was decorated with some FW characters. Dinkle was painted on the director’s office door. But this was back in the 80s when FW was funny, now it is all just about 80 year olds and people who look eighty.

  12. I honestly do not get the gag, even after re-reading it just now.


    So basically Dinkle is saying Mort is a terrible trombone player. That’s what I am taking from this. I guess it’s comforting to know Dinkle treats the elderly as badly as the youthful.

  14. ComicBookHarriet

    @ Epicus,
    A quick Google search confirms that nicotine can improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients. Way to go Batty! Showing the positive effects of addictive substances! I’m handing out Pall Malls at the nursing home the next time I go.

  15. Professor Fate

    Is it possible that Mort Winkerbean was just pretending to be completely out of it because he didn’t like spending time with his son?

  16. Double Sided Scooby Snack

    Oh HO! You see, it’s simple! Pa Bean plays second trombone because he’s the second best trombone player in the band — and all the OTHER trombone players in the band are tied for first! But there are ZERO other trombone players! Do you “get” it??? But… but… okay, now this is the funny part, okay… He can get off the 2nd trombone part if TWO other trombonists join the band.. BUT… BUT… Now hold onto everything now… There’s no guarantee that would move him up to the FIRST part! In fact… IN FACT… there’s this wry little hint that he might be moved OFF the 2nd part to the THIRD part! Then he’d be even “worse” off than he is now, playing 2nd trombone! Oh HO! Oh HO! Oh HO!

    Do you see how funny this is if you only take 5 or 6 minutes to think about it?? Whew… Now that’s called “writing!”

  17. I wonder if we’re witnessing something here.

    He killed off a character and got a Pulitzer nomination. So, he then had gay characters want to go to a prom…no nomination. He then married his favorite character to a black woman…not only no nomination, but no nothing.

    So maybe he thought, “I guess I could try telling jokes again.” But it’s been so long since he’s told any jokes that he has completely forgotten how to do it. So he slurries up something like today’s offering, think it’s funny, and unaware that the joke is so badly told that it nullifies itself.

  18. Epicus Doomus

    BC: Yep, that’s my theory too. And furthermore, his jokes used to be satirical, as FW was a satirical look at a “typical” suburban high school. But he gave all that up in exchange for “realism” so now when he tries satire it falls even flatter than it ordinarily would. And that’s pretty damn flat, I must say.

  19. You’d think Harry Dinkle would have better things to do than make mean-spirited jokes at old people. You’d think that, if you didn’t know this strip very well at all.