You Don’t Know Jack

Link to today’s strip.

My understanding of the slang word “jack” is that it means “nothing,” or perhaps “a small amount.”  Like the title of this entry, for example.  “You don’t know jack” means “You know nothing about this subject.”  “You get jack” means “You get nothing.”

Now, it’s been established that Batiuk has created his own world with its own idiots idioms.  The thing is, your own private slang only really works when there isn’t a real-world version.  He’s usually safe in this regard, as no human being has ever uttered things like “solo car date,” “vendo,” or “bio-dad,” but people use “jack” in the context I mentioned all the time.

Here, it seems to mean “money,” at least as far as I can fathom Pete’s meaning.  “Jack,” used here, is such a square-peg forced into a round-hole (forced with a hammer, while the peg is screaming) that I’m thinking it might get added to the Batiukionary.

Normally, in most strips with a *cough* joke like this, the drawing in panel three would be a slight variation of panel two, with the two halves of the *cough* joke implying a character’s single bit of dialogue in a single moment.  But I like to think that Pete said his dumb first line, then silently struggled to shoe-horn “jack” into his next sentence while everyone else ordered, paid, picked up their coffees and headed toward a table.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

22 responses to “You Don’t Know Jack

  1. Epicus Doomus

    So get Chester to spring some “jack” for a coffee machine, you whiny complaining piece of moping crap. I hope they remembered to lock the place up before the entire AK staff left for a coffee break, otherwise some random passer-by might steal their Flash treadmill or Pete’s “dollies”.

  2. spacemanspiff85

    “I just figured out why they call this place the Beanstalk . . . because that’s what the owner named it! Also, because creepy stalker types like me frequent it.”

  3. spacemanspiff85

    Also, in case anyone couldn’t tell this wasn’t an exceptionally weak storyline, Batiuk had to cram in a “coffee is expensive” gag to finish out this week.

  4. Unca Scrooge

    It is a forced gag but “jack” is a legitimate slang term for money, used for decades.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I also remember “jack” meaning money, but I thought it was just an obnoxious early 90s term.

      • Unca Scrooge

        Apparently it’s use as slang for money goes back to the 1600s. But it seems to me I’ve seen it used in detective novels from the 40s and definitely it was in use when I was growing up in the 60s.

        • I’m told the first editions of Alfred Bester’s _The Demolished Man_ used a twist on this. Part of _The Demolished Man_ was the use of typographical tricks, for example, using & to represent the letters ‘and’ in a name. So (like) someone named Wygand was rendered as Wyg& instead, or @kins for Atkins.

          One of the minor characters was named Jackson Beck [*], and apparently Bester tried writing that as $son, only to learn that nobody made the link from ‘$’ to ‘Jack’. They went to ‘Dollar’ instead, and ‘Dollarson’ just … is not anything near what’s mean. Sometimes you just write too cleverly and have to go with the simpler idea.

          [*] Yeah, the voice of Bluto in Popeye cartoons. Friend of Bester’s.

    • Interesting. I’d never heard it used that way; thanks for the education!

      • comicbookharriet

        Also, I very recently learned that my grandma forbid my mother to go on a ‘car date’ until she was sixteen. That was in the 60s. So we’ve established that Batiuk’s slang is perfectly plausible if these people are time travelers from 1962.

  5. William Thompson

    Leave it to Batiuk’s characters to insult a clerk over prices she didn’t set, and think they’ve been clever.

    • Professor Fate

      Well this is a common thread with Batiuk. His avatars are constantly harassing clerks and people behind the counter over things they have no control over . It adds a great deal to the general loathsomeness of his characters. If it was intentional i’d salute him for that but he thinks they are being amusing.

      • Charles

        Yeah, this isn’t the first time Mopey was rude to a cashier at a coffee shop either. There’s a fundamental thread that runs through all of Batiuk’s works that some people just aren’t worthy of respect and consideration, and clerks are always in that group. I’d like to think that it’s because he’s so detached from his creations that they aren’t real to him. It’d be a lot more troubling to find out that he treats every clerk or cashier he comes across with this level of contempt.

  6. Paul Jones

    Oh, goody. Obsolete slang used by an old man to insult cogs in the machine over something that they have no control over. It’s kinda obvious that Ed Crankshaft is his REAL avatar, ain’t it?

  7. Baristagirl wishes she had enough “jack” to get a chin implant. Last time I saw a mouth like that it had a hook in it!

  8. sgtsaunders

    Jack, schmack – none of today’s episode makes sense. Strained as it ever was.

  9. robertodobbs

    I suppose that someone might call a 20 a “Jackson” for the president on it, thought I have never heard that in my 4 decades alive. As others I wonder why they don’t just get a Mr. Coffee ($16.99) for the office.

    • Doc

      The Steely Dan song “Here at the Western World” from circa 1980 is when I first heard a $20 bill called a Jackson. ‘Lay down your Jackson and you will see…the sweetness you’ve been crying for…’. Gonna sound strange when it becomes a Tubman.

  10. Banana Jr. 6000

    Wow, it’s everything that sucks about Funky Winkerbean in one strip:

    1. Endless phony smirking (seven in one strip)
    2, …awkwardly juxtaposed with soul-crushing misery (Pete in panel two)
    3. Stupid character names (Ms. Swoon)
    4. Mediocrity being rewarded (getting to display their lame comic books at an art gallery)
    5. The main characters being rude to ordinary people
    6. Forced wordplay, to the point of raising serious discussion as to whether “jack” meaning “money” is something people actually say
    7. Thoroughly unlikeable characters (see 1 through 6)
    8. Poor staging (what, Pete told the barista the first part of the joke, and then walked away to tell the rest?)
    9. Subject matter that is only interesting to the author
    And finally, 10. All the characters reacting to this stupid, nonsensical, insulting joke like it’s the goddam Algonquin Round Table.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Wow, you nailed it! Today’s Mary Worth reached similar levels of stupidity with idiotic dialog and a desperate need for Karen Moy to display her knowledge of the French language. Bleh, total crap. Last week she was bragging about a crappy tourist pizzeria in Milan.