And You Can’t Fax Pepperoni Either

Link To The Strip

“While our takeouts from Montoni’s had been good”…nice sentence there, Pulitzer (nominee) Boy. That sentence is the literary equivalent of stubbing your pinkie toe on the bed frame on a 4AM bathroom trip. BatWrite’s insanely fractured syntax is definitely impossible to “replicate”, as it’s just impossible to force yourself to think that way, unless you’ve suffered a lot of head injuries or use a lot of LSD or something.

Of course the possibility exists that the “ambience” Funky is speaking of only exists in HIS head, given his deep lifelong ties to Montoni’s and all. I mean aside from the staff and Crazy Harry you almost NEVER see any other FW regulars hanging around in the background. It was never Westview’s answer to “Cheers”, where characters stream in and out all the time, exchanging wry smirks and wordplay-based banter as Funky and Company crank out the pies. Thus one could conclude that Westviewians don’t really give a shit about being inside Montoni’s, as so few of them are. They just want the pizza. Your coke dealer might have you drop by his stylish condo or he might meet you in the parking lot at the Sizzler but either way you’re just interested in getting the blow.

This arc could have been about how Funky missed his customers-slash-pals during the pandemic, which might have made sense. Or it could have been about how he found himself with all kinds of unwanted free time all of a sudden, which would have sort of tied in a little with the last one. But instead it’s about how the pandemic affected the actual building itself, which is certainly a “different” sort of take. And he’s the only one with nostalgic feelings for the place (even Tony is never there), so essentially this is just more childhood fetishization, a common FW theme (see: comic books).

But mostly it’s just stupid. Funky is usually one of the more sympathetic FW characters (by FW standards) but the urge to hit him with a cinder block is just overwhelming right now. Why is everyone just sitting there letting this idiot babble?


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

49 responses to “And You Can’t Fax Pepperoni Either

  1. J.J. O'Malley

    Oh, my God! Funky is getting “old man nose blackheads” like Crankshaft!

    Sorry, but that’s the only thing I got out of today’s strip.

    “While our pizza deliveries were good during the lockdown…” There, was that so hard? Was it ABSOLUTELY necessary to mention Montoni’s by name in panel one, seeing as you were going to do the same thing in panel two? Was Battyuk afraid that readers would think Funky was referring to the local Domino’s or Papa John’s? Also, I assume the non-replicable “experience” he’s blathering on about is how nice the tilework in the restrooms looks when customers have to run in and regurgitate their meal.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s product placement. Funky’s goal this week is to say the word “Montoni’s” as many times as possible, so everyone at the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting will know where to get the best pizza. Everything else, whether it’s being on-topic for an AA meeting or even forming complete sentences, is secondary.

      And the real-world product placement is just as tasteless. This is just Batiuk going on about about his precious Luigi’s pizza again. Good Lord, is he getting hookers and adrenochrome in that place? It’s just a pizza restaurant, Tom! We don’t need to hear what a magical place it is! I wasn’t this geeked about Chuck E. Cheese’s when I was nine! (And that was in 1981, when Chuck E. Cheese’s had good video games.)

      “You can’t do a Zoom pizzeria”? That’s because NOBODY WANTS TO! Amazingly, when businesses had to close down 15 months ago now, people were able to replace in-person experiences with home delivery and electronic socialization. And now these things are a lot more accepted than they once were. The pandemic changed society. It changed how businesses operate and how humans interact with each other. But this stupid shit about a “Zoom pizzeria” is just… my God, can Batiuk miss the point any harder?

      This is even worse than Batiuk’s usual childhood fetishization. This is childhood fetishization demanding that it’s still relevant. It’s almost like Funky is trying to convince himself. “No, Montoni’s is important! People want to go to Montoni’s! The Montoni’s experience can’t be replicated on the Internet!” And to make that even more stupid, this strip has never shown us anything special about Montoni’s that would support this view. And again: he never actually had to close it. So I don’t know where Funky gets off pontificating on much he suffered doing things he never did.

      And there’s a funny thing about nostalgia: people are nostalgic for their own childhoods, not other people’s. This strip is constantly trying to convert you to like comic books, pizza and band, as if your own childhood interests are incorrect.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        If you want to see what you are missing, check out the Yelp reviews for Luigi’s.

        • The Duck of Death

          Be sure to search for images of “Luigi’s Salad.” It’s basically a couple wisps of lettuce with about a pound of shredded mozzarella on top. This is apparently a famous, celebrated dish down Akron way. The mind, and the arteries, boggle.

  2. Charles

    Like I said yesterday, it’s as if he doesn’t realize that everyone else had to go through this as well.

  3. billytheskink

    “There was just something about the experience of actually being in Montoni’s that couldn’t be replicated.”

    Well there’s one positive of the pandemic.

  4. Tom Batiuk’s aphorisms are like his punchlines–only he can see them, and only when he squints really hard. As I’ve said, I’ve never seen a writer so proud of abilities he clearly does not possess.

  5. William Thompson

    Did Funky even try to hold some Montoni’s-replicating zoom sessions? Really, what’s so hard about applying video filters to faces? Skulls would capture the Montoni’s ambience just fine. So would green facial tones. And what’s so hard about dubbing in the sound of barfing?

  6. Mr. A

    Panel 3:

    (I apologize for sharing a video of someone filming a TV, but it was the only version I could find.)

    Are Batiuk and Ayers actually going to show us the “new” Montoni’s at any point? Plexiglass dividers, every other table roped off, etc.? Or are we just going to stand around and listen to Funky talk about it?

  7. louder

    I’m not an expert of A.A. meetings, but isn’t the point of these “stand up and talk” is that you’re talking about how you were tempted to take a drink, but were able to overcome the temptation? How Puketoni stories about what happened months ago strengthening anyone’s desire of not drinking? One of these days, he’ll hit step four: “Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself” and will be stopped in his tracks! Has anyone in Cancerville shown any kind of self-awareness, ever?

    • Jim W.

      Since this is (sigh) going to be coming up this week, and since I know of whence I speak, I can say in Batiuk’s defense that this isn’t inaccurate as far as AA meetings go. The person who’s giving the “lead” (among other terms) – the main speaker – sometimes has a topic but just as often has a lot of latitude in what they can talk about; alcoholism affects people’s lives in all sorts of ways and vice versa, so it’s not always just “I wanted to drink but I didn’t, and here’s how.” Anyway, as you can imagine, the quality of said “leads” varies WILDLY. Sometime’s you’re hanging on the person’s every word. Sometimes they’re on-topic but perfunctory. And yes, sometimes people really do just get up and blather on about irrelevancies until you want throw coffee in their face. Mercifully most meetings do enforce a time limit, though. But if you’re physically sober, the floor is pretty much yours for better or for worse. Of course the writing of this strip is still utterly abysmal, and it is an unintended illustration of the worst kind of behavior in AA. Funky needs a new sponsor and another 4th step wouldn’t kill him, either.

      • louder

        Thanks for the clarification. Sorry for the poor proofreading on my post everyone, it reads yucky!

    • Jim W

      PS: because AA has been almost 100% Zoom since March 2020, with a remarkable degree of success, all things considered, there’s no way you’d catch anyone at a meeting bitching about Zoom. Read the room, Funky.

  8. Sourbelly

    Wait. Hang on. Yesterday’s cliffhanger was, “the Montoni’s we re-opened would never be the same as the one we closed….” Deep stuff. So, Funky, now you’ll tell us how the re-opened Montoni’s is different, right? Wrong. Today, he’s bitching about the Montoni’s during lockdown, before they re-opened, I guess. It’s like he forgot his train of thought mid-sentence. Maybe the old AA slang, “wetbrain” applies here.

    • The Duck of Death

      Never gonna happen. He drops these “profound” statements and just leaves them there, steaming, and moves on without a thought. Anyone who ever thinks that one of these empty profundities will be paid off with an explanation or example is always going to be disappointed.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Statements like these should be made after the audience has seen evidence of them. They should reaffirm the reality of the story to us. Peanuts was really good at this. When Charles Schulz dropped an aphorism, it meant something. One of my all-time favorites was Schroeder saying “don’t tell me I’ve grown accustomed to THAT face!” after Lucy (temporarily) moves away. We see him struggle with her absence, and the line really drives it home. The two-week arc is below:

        Funky is going to spend all week telling us how special Montoni’s is. But we see Montoni’s constantly, and we’ve never seen it be anything special. If anything, the strip regularly tells us how much Montoni’s sucks. Funky forgets to order mozzarella, hires tons of useless cronies who do whatever they feel like, has unprofessional conversations within earshot of customers, and seems to be a friends-and-family hangout only.

  9. Charles

    Man, Hitorque hit it dead on yesterday when he said that this whole stupid thing was a low-key advertisement for Funky’s business. I’ll bet that’s another implication that Batiuk’s totally oblivious to.

    But it’d be hilarious if that was what Funky was doing, and he was really freaking obvious about it too. Spend an entire Sunday strip on it, or maybe even two weeks and two Sundays.

    “I’ll tell you, it’s been hard watching Montoni’s, that’s M-O-N-T-O-N-I apostrophe S, by the way, shed its dine-in customers. There used to be waits to get in, but anyone can just stroll in and get a table at any time!

    “So I’d usually come into work, driving to the location at 6852 Union Street in Westview, at noon, which is an hour before we open, and stay until a half hour after we close at 11PM, Tuesday to Sunday. Wally would usually be there but sometimes it would be Adeela, a Muslim woman – we welcome everyone no matter what- having been doing the prep work for a couple hours at that point. Wally always felt that we should raise the prices of our pizzas, but I was adamant that $11.99 for a 14″ pie had to be the price, $13.99 for a 16″ and $15.99 for our large 18”, along with the great price of only $1 per topping. But I can’t be too upset with Wally, because he was the one who came up with the idea of our extensive salad menu. I had no idea so many salads existed! He also makes great calzones and strombolis, but have you guys ever heard of a Pizzolli? It’s like a cannoli but it uses pizza ingredients! Kids LOVE them!

    “And that’s not to say we don’t have cannolis too! In fact, we have a full dessert menu, featuring great Italian fare like Biscottis and Panna Cotta, but we also have the more usual cheesecakes and ice cream and stuff for those of you who aren’t as adventurous. With the pandemic, we just haven’t had as many customers so everything on the menu is always available.

    “But a lot of our customers didn’t want to leave their house throughout the pandemic, which was sad, but fine, because we have both takeout and delivery. In fact, we offer both until midnight! With the pandemic hitting us as hard as it has, I had to repeat our phone number so often that I can recite it from memory like it was my own name. Yep, 330-867-5309. What’s my name? It’s 330-867-5309. Who can I turn to to help me with my problem?

    “Anyway, another thing that’s been hard about the pandemic is that our fantastic al fresco dining that we spent so much money on is always available! We were expecting people to just come in on these lovely cool early Summer nights and…..”

    [Funky gets thrown out the 3rd story window where this AA meeting is taking place]

    • Maxine of Arc

      Someday, somehow, despite being just an anonymous contributor to a Funky Winkerbean blog, I will exact revenge for the earworm you have planted in my morning fog of a brain. I’ll find some way to blame it on Les though.

      • Charles

        As Funky lies broken on the street three floors below, he somehow manages to lift a hand with one finger raised, in that gesture you often see people use in bad comic strips but never in real life.

        “Another thing that the pandemic did was it made us for the first time use coupons to convince people to order! If you order a large two-topping pizza for $22.99, you can get a medium at half price! What a steal! And if you order a medium one-topping and any of our full size salads, you get any dessert free of charge! The pandemic’s been killing me with these great deals!

        “One of the most surprising things the pandemic did was it gave us time to clean our bathrooms more thoroughly! They used to be disgusting, but now they’re so pristine you could eat off the floor! Come and see our clean bathro—”

        [Becky and her 900-piece marching band from Westview High come by playing “Louie Louie”, each one of them stomping on the broken body of Funky lying in the street as they pass.]

    • Sourbelly

      “Excuse me Funky, sorry to interrupt, but do you still have that amazing Breakfast Pizza on your menu? Man, what a great way to start your day!”

      • The Duck of Death

        It truly is, because after you’ve finished, you know that no matter what else happens — getting fired, getting diagnosed with cancer or CTE, even something as awful as Hollywood optioning your book — your day is only gonna get better from there.

  10. Suicide Squirrel

    “There was something about the experience of actually being in Montoni’s that can’t be replicated.”

    Experiences like what? The smell of cheap disinfectant? The paper placemats? The spotty plastic glasses? The brownish cloudy ice cubes? The dirty forks? The wobbly tables? The vinyl booths that make a fart sound whenever you move? The waitress from Hell who completely ignores you?

  11. DickJohnson

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comic character with eyes as dead or soulless as in the third panel

    If the fourth panel zoomed out to show Funky holding someones decapitated head i wouldn’t be all that surpised

  12. Hitorque

    What irks me the most is say what you will about Bernie, Dinkle, Masone, Cindye, Cayla, Les, etc. but at least when they deliver their weak assed punchline in the third panel there’s usually a smile or a smirk or implied laughter which is the universal signal to the reader saying “THIS IS THE PART YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO FIND FUNNY”

    So I never know how Batiuk wants me to react to Funkensteiger’s AA TED Talk Lecture Series… Is he trying to be witty? Wry? Ironic? Deadpan serious? Is the dead expression on his face a cry for help? Even though it has come to define his entire life while being very profitable for him, I never get the notion that Montoni’s brings Funkman any type of joy or fulfillment. Has the untreated depression and existential dread broken his psyche? Is Funkman trying to indirectly tell us these AA meeting attendees are the only people he feels like he can talk to? The only people he feels close to? Does he need a hug? Is he desperate for a sympathetic and nonjudgmental ear? Are telling really shitty and unfunny non sequitur jokes and weeklong segues into stuff nobody cares about how he’s filled the void in his life once occupied by liquor? Is he tired of being a senior citizen yet everyone still addresses him by a silly childhood nickname?

    Maybe the “joke” here is that Funkmeister feels compelled to tell dumb jokes in every situation despite the fact that he’ll never be funny?

    • The Nelson Puppet

      “Funkensteiger” had me in stitches! Now I have to read Funky’s infomercial in that weird affected W.C. Fields voice Steiger used late in his career.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Batiuk wants you to react “Montoni’s is good. Montoni’s is the best place ever. Montoni’s is so culturally important.” That’s the only thing that matters this week. Funky doesn’t even matter. He’s just the vessel for the product placement. This is a pizza commercial, and Funky is The Noid.

  13. Paul Jones

    What kills me is that this is supposed to be a bad thing for the patrons. Since they’re eating 7-11 quality pizza at home anyway, it’s not much of a change. And also, the setting is hella cheerier.

  14. Jimmy

    I’m fortunate that I haven’t been a member of AA, but I know the second part is anonymous. Is it typical that a member shares such intimate details about his life that others can easily find him outside of meetings?

    As for stubbing a toe on the bed at 4 a.m…it’s a perfect descriptor for this strip.

    • Jeff M

      Yes. Anonymity is taken very very very seriously in those rooms.

      • Charles

        And yet I’d bet that if one of these putzes falls for Funky’s advertisements-disguised-as-AA-testimonials and actually shows up at the place, Funky will be very chatty with him. This will lead Holly to ask Funky who that guy is, to which Funky will reply, “Oh, that’s Robert from AA.”

    • Westview Radiology

      It’s not anonymous amongst themselves. What you see here what you hear here what you say here let it stay here.

  15. Rusty Shackleford

    This is all about Batty taking more potshots at modern technology.

    Sure, you cannot replicate in person meetups 100%, but you can come close and modern technology saved us during the pandemic. Comics—especially this mess—did nothing.

    Thanks to Zoom, my wife and I did more socializing than ever and reconnected with a lot of friends we haven’t seen in years. We could have done this before, but the pandemic forced people to change the way they did things and take a new approach to life. Hell, my 80+ year old father bought and learned how to use an iPhone so he could FaceTime and text with the grandkids. Can you see Batty doing this? He’d have his grandkids use snail mail.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      COVID is an awful context for taking potshots at technology. Video conferencing proved its value in our lives; kept businesses and jobs going; enabled communication between researchers, doctors, governments and individuals; became more a accepted means of communication; and fulfilled important social needs. And Batiuk’s doubling down on the specialness of Montoni’s. Okay, boomer.

      It’s not even the first time. On the Funkyblog, Batiuk complained that the Internet would have ruined his opportunity to borrow a story idea from a newspaper clipping he saw on a restaurant wall. Really, Tom? Doing research, and learning about other people’s stories, is literally what the Internet is best at.

      And I predict this will get worse. We’ll see more and more “no, really, the Internet is bad” strips in Funky Winkerbean. You can’t delete a comic book, can you?

      • Rusty Shackleford

        No, but you can bet all those unsold copies of Lisa’s Story will be filling a landfill somewhere.

      • The Duck of Death

        You’ve touched on the most puzzling thing about Batiuk’s work: his insistence on things that can be proven by a *literal* 5-second search on the Internet. Two obvious examples spring to mind: Choir robes and Discmans. Time required to access Amazon and enter the search string “choir robes” or “Discman” = approximately 2.5 seconds. I’m a fast touch-typist, so maybe it would take someone else 3.5 seconds. Time required for Amazon to deliver search results = approximately one second.

        He literally can’t — no, WON’T — spend 5 seconds to determine whether his premise is valid or not.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      See also today’s Crankshaft for more of Batty’s complaining about the modern world.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        “The newspaper is trying to wean us off it”? That’s just stupid. What a complete failure to understand anything about why newspapers are dying.

        Newspapers are dying because they took the same attitude towards technology Tom Batiuk does: look down your nose at it and it’ll go away. To put it mildly, this didn’t work.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          He fails at understanding or thinking through anything. That redlining arc that was mentioned yesterday is another example of Batty failing to think before taking a position on something. So many stupid, straw men arguments.

        • Hitorque

          As a former newspaper reporter, I’ll just say the picture is a bit more complicated than you’re thinking…

          • Rusty Shackleford

            True, the shift to online advertising was probably the biggest contributor.

            (Batty gasps)

  16. Rusty Shackleford

    Meanwhile, over in Mary Worth, Moy is showing, not just telling, and it is wonderful.

    Weeks ago we were teased with Shauna’s backstory, and this week we get to see her!

    (Sorry for the tangent.)

  17. “Before the internet, when life was good, if people didn’t like my comic strips, they had to gamble a stamp on a letter to the editor! Now, anyone anywhere can talk about how terrible my comic strips are! It’s not fair, and life is now terrible.”

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Yeah Batty is all about being for the common man, as long as the common man parrots what Batty wants them to say.

    • Epicus Doomus

      LOL yep, BatYam used to be able to cruise under the cultural radar, sailing along in quiet obscurity and generating attention only when he craved it. But now it’s a brave new world and you know he HATES it.

  18. Westview Radiology

    Many AA meetings have a person volunteer to be a “timer” using their phone. After 3 minutes are up they will have their phone play a cheery alarm tune that signifies stop, give someone else a chance,

  19. none

    …did he actually intend for the last panel to be some kind of meta joke about Zoom in combination with that unusually large and grotesque close up of his face? I guess it’s possible for anyone to stumble onto that kind of wit if given enough chances, right?