The Audience is Wide

Link to today’s strip.

For a man who has such great pride in his writing ability, Tom Batiuk shows remarkably little evidence of having any.

The fact that we’re on our fourth day of this non-story gives a very good picture of Batiuk’s “writing” process.

First, set up a situation. A church needs a new organist. It’s a fine premise, it would be possible to tell an interesting story with that situation. Except for the next step.

Second, find something in the premise that’s incredibly trivial and inconsequential, and stretch the Hell out of it. You should be able to get an entire week out of this; if you put in the effort, you can get two or even three weeks.

Third, go for an ending where you get to reward your hero characters with little or no effort.

As mentioned, finding an new organist could make an interesting story. You could have several characters try out for the position–one person who has always wanted the job, another who is qualified but hasn’t been a member of the church for years, perhaps a relative who thinks the position should be his, etc. Drama is certainly a possibility, as well as some interesting character work.

But not in Funky Winkerbean.

Heck, if you hired Tom Batiuk to write a “Fast and Furious” movie, the characters would spend two hours looking for their car keys. Then at the end, they’d be handed their car keys by an unintroduced character, and they’d spend the rest of the movie admiring themselves, their abilities, and their struggles to get those car keys.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

30 responses to “The Audience is Wide

  1. William Thompson

    And that Fast & Furious movie would end with the characters gathering around their antiquated car, singing “Yes We’ll Gather At The Flivver” while an organ played in the background.

  2. Mr. A

    Link currently goes to Wednesday’s strip, not Thursday’s.

    • Should work now…not that there’s any difference…
      When the strip is so soul-drainingly boring, it’s easy to make mistakes.

      • Epicus Doomus

        FW board game idea: each player gets a year’s worth of laminated daily strips and they race to see who can put them in the correct order first. I think it’d be way, way harder than it sounds.

  3. spacemanspiff85

    I’d go so far as to say Batiuk’s Fast & Furious wouldn’t actually show any cars. Just like this strip never shows Starbuck Jones or anything else possibly remotely interesting.

    • Epicus Doomus

      They’d be talking about cars and things tangentially related to cars but you’re right, you’d never actually see any driving. Then suddenly everyone would be talking about the big scheme they just pulled off, probably while eating pizza.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        The entire movie would take place in that garage they hang out in. Except the garage would be mostly empty.

        If Batiuk wrote Lord of the Rings we would go straight from one book of Frodo and Gandalf sitting in Bag End, to another book of everyone sitting at the council of Elrond, to the last book of everyone sitting around at Minas Tirith talking about what went down.

        Batiuk writes like a Greek Tragedian, all action happens off stage and is described.

  4. Mr. A

    Here’s a thought, Lillian: why don’t you propose a plan of action yourself? It would be less frustrating than your current game of “tactfully tell the idiots that they’re being idiots and then wait for them to stumble into the right idea”.

  5. Epicus Doomus

    Having the characters take days on end to express a simple thought…one of BatYam’s favorite word balloon-filling gimmicks. He can’t just have Dinkle arrive on the scene this week, as absolutely everything MUST take six full days to unfold…no exceptions. This week is about discussing how to find a new organist and by God he’s sticking to that premise faithfully no matter how plodding it gets.

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    My, but Battyuk does a better job than Bill Maher in showing the stupidity of religious people.

    Over in “C-shaft,” it’s usually Lillian the Lizard who’s demonstrated to be a befuddled old biddy who has no understanding of what a “podcast” is or why it’s called a “green room” when it’s not green. Here, however, in the breezy expanse of “FW,” we get to see that her follow joyful noisemakers are just as addlepated and out-of-touch as she is. A classified newspaper ad? In 2021? Did TB really forget to make the decade-or-so leap forward when he crafted this criss-cross choir room calamity, or are we supposed to chuckle at how these dimbulbs seem to have not picked up a paper since the turn of the 21st century?

    Here’s to Friday’s rib-tickler, wherein the gals debate the pros and cons of putting an “Organist Wanted” poster at the local A&P.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Because all elderly religious people are super backward. They haven’t all learned how to log on to their church’s Facebook pages to catch the weekly livestream of the services the pastor’s been putting out during an entire year of lockdown restrictions.

      They don’t pay their offering via direct deposit, find YouTube videos on the Holy Land for Sunday School, and post all day in their Bible Study’s discord server,

  7. William Thompson

    A newspaper ad? Too modern! How about smoke signals? Or hiring a town crier? Or taping hand-written signs to telephone poles, if they still have any of those in town.

  8. Gerard Plourde

    A glaring mistake in this week’s strip is the fact that the choir members don’t do the hiring. If St. Spires is Catholic, the pastor hires all personnel. In Protestant denominations, that task belongs to the elders or the trustees.

    I guess TomBa thinks a church choir is run like a rock bank. If a member leaves, the group advertises for a replacement. I can’t wait until he runs the “Dinkle Takes the Choir on Tour” arc.

  9. The Dreamer

    They are showing their age Nobody advertises in the classified section of daily newspapers anymore…

  10. Rob

    The fact that newspaper classifieds are actually outdated and ineffective is indeed the joke here, and–credit where it’s due–this is a remarkably lucid and straightforward, even understated, joke, at least by Batiuk’s standards.

    (The week’s overarching plot is still interminable and unappealing, of course.)

  11. Organ Recycle

    Raise your middle finger if you care about this arc.

  12. Banana Jr. 6000

    Let’s see an edited version of this scene:

    “Any thoughts on how to place an advertisement?”
    “Let’s place an advertisement!”

    • Mr. A

      I had a similar thought yesterday. If Lillian had said “find” instead of “advertise for”, the joke would work better.

      “…the difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.” —Mark Twain

  13. billytheskink

    If they really want a good response to their classified ad, they should get Pete to translate it into Starbuck Jones Junior Spacemen of America decoder ring code.

    • Maxine of Arc

      Oh my wizard god, that strip has so many goddamn smirks I think I actually felt physical revulsion.

    • Hitorque

      It’s funny because Hollywood was making a billion dollar sci-fi comic book movie that was going to be bigger than The Last Jedi and Black Panther combined and the studio hacks/actors/director/writers literally convinced themselves that the AARP crowd was their prime target demographic; and the best way to lure them was not with free pre-release screening passes, marketing swag, or even an exclusive teaser trailer — No, all they had to dangle for everyone to show was fuckin’ Ovaltine with PB+J sammies…

      And by the way, every senior citizen comic geek in that audience should have asked Pete 1. Who the fuck are you, 2. Why are you even talking, 3. Why do you assume we showed up just to see your ugly assed catcher’s mitt face??

  14. Banana Jr. 6000

    Wait a minute. I know where I’ve seen this story before!

    Tom Batiuk is of course Governor LePetomane.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      As amusing as the entire strip edit is, the last panel was the funniest to me. Because my own relatively small church has five Barbs, only differentiated by last name.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I was playing off the idea that everyone in Rock Ridge had the last name Johnson. I figured every woman in Tom Batiuk’s version of the story would be named Lisa.

    • Hitorque

      Bloody brilliant…

  15. Hitorque

    Why is an 80 year old retiree with a generous Ohio State Educator Employee pension even reading the help wanted ads?!