Jukebox Zero

Link To Today’s Pandemic Fun

Again we see Funky fetishizing an inanimate object with ties to his youth that only holds meaning to him. And once again it makes no sense whatsoever. Why would the jukebox “have to go”? They couldn’t wipe it down with some sanitizer a few times a day? I mean it’s his building and his jukebox, I can’t think of a single reason why he couldn’t just leave the f*cking jukebox where it is. Yet there they are, hurriedly rushing the jukebox out the door like it’s packed full of anthrax (the disease not the band although both could be deemed as alarming). Why? Does it shoot COVID from the coin return or something? Will the song choices compel listeners to violate social distancing standards? I don’t get it.

And look how they didn’t even bother to coil up the cord. That dumb jukebox is one of Funky’s most treasured objects yet he’s carting it around like it’s a broken toaster. I don’t know what the idea behind this strip was supposed to be but I’m just baffled.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

57 responses to “Jukebox Zero

  1. William Thompson

    Just tell me that Walleye died tragically when he fell after his feet got tangled in that cord. Or that he got electrocuted. (I know that’s impossible. I also know better than to underestimate Batiuk’s power to get things wrong.)

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Speaking of Tom Batiuk’s power to get things wrong: the saying is “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Not equal to the sum of its parts. When used in the usual way, it means that a collection of things can be greater than each thing can individually. They components combine in a way that adds quality to the whole presentation. That’s what Funky wants us to believe about Montoni’s, but he’s now saying the opposite. He’s saying that his jukebox, band box, nepotism hires, and bad pizza add up to nothing more than a jukebox, a band box, nepotism hires, and bad pizza. Which would confuse anyone who’s trying to take this speech at face value. Especially when Funky spins right back around to “Gasp! We had to remove the jukebox!” in panel 3, when his own proclamation rendered the jukebox irrelevant to the equation.

      • billytheskink

        Funky stating that concept of gestalt did not apply to Montoni’s is actually one of the most honest and true things ever presented in a Funky Winkerbean strip.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        It’s the timing that gets me. Had he done this last year some people might have liked this strip because it seemed like a lot of these rules were crazy.

        Running it now is just dumb. Everyone is looking forward to getting back to normal.

  2. none

    oh no

    now the patrons cant collectively listen to such wonderful artists like Johnny “The Vocal Trainwreck” Dowd while they dine in the restaurant

    whatever shall they do

    Good observation on the power cord, by the way. It’s those little touches which elevate strips like this from “pointless” to “frustratingly pointless”; the latter of which leads to more conversation, so good job on that, dear author.

    • Epicus Doomus

      The dangling cord and the motion lines seem to indicate urgency, which IMO makes it even weirder. Why the hurry? What could possibly happen?

      • William Thompson

        Crazy Harry could come in and play Olivia Newton-John’s “Please Mister Please,” again, thereby sending both of the day’s customers in a blind rush toward the exit. When they get within six feet of one another, pow, there goes the social distancing.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          I’d rather hear that. Les is always coming in and playing Wildfire by Michael Martin Murphey.

          • ComicBookHarriet

            I listen to a lot of oldies. That song never ceases to infuriate me. The chorus sounds like a man being forced to sing at gunpoint while sitting in a freezing tank of aggressive lobsters.

          • Rusty Shackleford


            I do too and this song reminds me that the music wasn’t always better back then. Batty would disagree.

          • Perfect Tommy

            To be fair, there WAS a killing frost.

        • Margaret

          Do you suppose they have any Claude Barlow on the jukebox in case Dinkle comes in?

      • Charles

        Because it’s filled with DISEASE, man!

        I also don’t know why Wally appears to be angry at the thing.

        I’ve never worked in food service, but I imagine that the people who work long hours there came to hate the jukebox and would welcome a sound system whose playlist they can control. Perhaps that’s why Wally’s so mad at the thing. Perhaps as well because its selection appears to be geared solely to appeal to people over the age of 65 despite Batiuk claiming the whole community loves the place.

        “I swear to God I didn’t realize how much I fucking hated Paul Anka until Lillian McKenzie started showing up here.”
        “Not sure why John Howard makes sure to come down at least once a day to listen to ‘My Way’, but it sure as hell is annoying.”
        “I swear to God if he plays Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey one more time, I’m throwing on a Members Only jacket and going into the bathroom. If he’s still here when I come out, I’m murdering him and his entire family.”

        Color me puzzled as well about how Funky laments removing the jukebox when it’s been shown to be back in Montoni’s by now. Not being able to visit with my family sure did suck when that was the rule, but I suspect no one would be interested in hearing me bitch aimlessly about it now that it’s over.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I’m puzzled why Funky laments removing the jukebox when it never left!

          Throughout 2020 and early 2021, everyone went to Montoni’s any time they felt like it. It was never closed; it never changed how it did business; no one ever wore a mask; no one had to be socially distanced; no one lost their job for any period of time; the store didn’t lose any income; they held in-person meetings; and they didn’t have to remove any of Tom Batiuk’s precious fetish objects. Boo freaking hoo. Where’s the angst here?

          Where does this comic strip get off telling us how much its characters suffered from COVID because they had to remove a stupid jukebox? When they never actually removed it anyway?! And nothing about the quarantines would have made them remove it! Talk about forced pathos. And to a room full of people who are there to get counseling for their alcoholism, and all would have suffered from COVID in their own way. To say nothing of the real-world audience who all suffered from it. And nobody in this captive audience will speak out against it, because Funky’s talking and he’s the only character who matters. If there was a world record for being an asshole, this week’s arc is a contender. It’s petty, selfish, phony, dismissive, and tasteless.

          And on a side note: Tom Batiuk once again refuses to acknowledge any technological solution to his problem. It would be trivial to have streaming audio. But no, Montoni’s has to have its 1987 Wurlitzer jukebox, with its 45 LP records and its B-sides of songs only Tom Batiuk likes. Why do people enjoy this comic strip?

          • ComicBookHarriet

            The presence of the Jukebox doesn’t bother me. Those things are antique bits of functional kitsch at this point. It’s like owning a classic car to drive around showing off on Sunday afternoons. Of course there are more functional cars for your daily commute.

            But the only reason I could see to remove the Jukebox during the lockdown would be if they decided that it was a good time to have it refurbished. There are people who specialize in tuning up those old machines.

            The sight of Wally and Funky glaring at the machine as they wheel it out the door like it’s some kind of Typhoid Mary Turntable is ridiculous.

          • Jim in Wisc.

            “But no, Montoni’s has to have its 1987 Wurlitzer jukebox, with its 45 LP records and its B-sides of songs only Tom Batiuk likes. Why do people enjoy this comic strip?”

            For the last few years, most bars and restaurants that have jukeboxes have been going to digital streaming jukeboxes. Thousands of songs to choose from. No need to for anyone to ever come around and change 45s or CDs. And they accept credit cards and e-wallets, so you don’t even need cash or quarters to listen to your favorite tunes.

          • Jimmy

            I thought everyone hate reads it, which I guess is a form of sick enjoyment.

        • Charles

          So we have no I GOT THE REFERENCE lady here today.

  3. Sourbelly

    Utter poo. Beyond the idiocy of the dialog, what the hell is going on with Funky’s face in panel 1? He kind of looks like that Applewhite guy from the Heaven’s Gate cult. (Sorry, I’m far, far too stupid to figure out how to post images here.)

  4. I just want tomorrow’s episode to have Funky say “After Wally tripped over the power cord and broke his leg, we had to put him down. Since I was the only one with a shotgun, the task fell to me. But I didn’t resume drinking because of that–despite really wanting to celebrate.”

  5. Lord Flatulence

    Just look at those stern expressions. “This serious business, dammit!”

  6. DickJohnson

    Its so dangerous they have to get rid of it and wear masks but don’t have to wear gloves?

  7. J.J. O'Malley

    So…at some indeterminate point in the past Funky removed the jukebox from the restaurant for reasons yet to be explained, and he’s sad about it. But at some later point in the space-time continuum the jukebox was returned and ready to perplex Crazy Harry with its syntax-splitting Sinatra song selections.

    I know, that was two questions. Sorry.

    • Epicus Doomus

      And that’s another inexplicable detail that merited the “weird time anomalies” tag. If he removed the jukebox when Montoni’s re-opened, how could it have been featured in that Sunday strip a few weeks ago? Did he bring it back already? And if so, why did he remove it in the first place? What suddenly changed? In that Sunday strip there was no indication that anything about Montoni’s had changed. Yet Funky is droning on and on about all the changes that ruined Montoni’s. Thus there’s no frame of reference to determine when these strips are taking place.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Not to get too nerdy, but I feel like this Flashpoint levels of comics continuity nonsense. Like at some unspecified point in time in May, Flash Freeman traveled back in time to 2020 to save his cat, created the pandemic, and it’s altered the past of the universe after that point.

        It’s like when they retcon superheroes that were created in the fifties to have been born in the 80’s in a comic that comes out in 2015, and suddenly Spiderman remembers being a kid on 9/11.

  8. Mr. A

    I have two questions:

    1. Why does the jukebox need to be removed?
    2. Why does the jukebox need to be removed?

    …er, let me rephrase that…

    1. Why is it dangerous for customers to continue using the jukebox?
    2. Why do they need to physically haul the jukebox away? Couldn’t they just unplug it and hang a “Not in Service” sign on it?

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Exactly. I noticed that a lot of restaurants/stores roped off crane games and gumball machines during the pandemic. But I didn’t see any REMOVED.

    • Hitorque

      Obviously because it’s absolutely necessary to setup the series of stupidly implausible events we’re going to witness the next several days…

      The same reason why Funkenstein only runs on his treadmill at home while listening to a Discman after spending an entire week boasting about having the last two discmans in existence and how much he cherished them…

      The same reason why Les is still going on book signing tours…

      The same reason why Jeff wears a cereal box decoder ring…

      The same reason why literally 95% of the Funkyverse got their job from a friend, relative, former mentor, lover or spouse…

      The same reason why Bull recorded every episode of “Law and Order” on VHS…

      The same reason why despite all logic, Atomikkk Komixxx is a booming successful business with only four full-time employees…

      The same reason why Cindye Sommers-Jarre never ages or sees any of her children, ever…

      The same reason why Cindye Sommers-Jarre and Marianne Winters can be sunbathing on a condo balcony and somehow not notice a massive wildfire (which had only been national news for the preceding four days) coming in their direction until their condo was burning down…

      The same reason why 79-year-old Harry Dinkle is constantly scanning the newspaper and internet for new musical opportunities despite working a half dozen side hustles already…

      The list goes on…

    • Charles

      Why do they need to physically haul the jukebox away? Couldn’t they just unplug it and hang a “Not in Service” sign on it?

      Because then it wouldn’t be as tragic, man!

      The cast wallows in that shit. It’s certainly one thing they all have in common.

  9. erdmann

    The second thing to go was the Master Koffey coffee maker. Turns out nobody in their right mind drinks coffee with pizza. The third thing to go was the comic book shop upstairs; the owner had been skeeving out potential Montoni’s customers for years. The fourth thing to go… Well, there’s a reason I have so much free time to spend blathering away at AA meetings…

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Glad to know I’m not the only one bothered by the coffee and pizza combination.

      I think the reason it bothers me is that it is representative of Batty’s poor choices. He wanted a stage for his characters, but he also wanted to butt kiss Luigi’s, the result is this mess.

      Before he got all deep and serious, the high school was the stage and Montoni’s was just a secondary stage. Both made sense at that point. But then came the switch to cancer and comics and here we are.

      • Gerard Plourde

        You’re definitely not alone on that. It grinds my gears every time I see Harry drinking coffee with pizza.

        • I suspect the reason for that is that it’s easier to draw a coffee mug than a glass with soda in it.

          Not much easier, but enough that it took away from reading Flash #123.

          • Charles

            I have a couple of suspicions.

            It’s easier to ascertain what it is.

            It’s probably less awkward drawing someone drinking from a mug than a glass, or through a straw.

            Funky/Holly can be appearing to do work when they’re yammering with Crazy/Les/John if they’re refilling their coffee. Refilling sodas wouldn’t work in the same fashion since Funky/Holly wouldn’t be wandering around with a pitcher of Coke, not to mention that people are drinking more than one kind of soda so it wouldn’t be effective anyway.

            Someone might have thought layabout USPS worker Crazy is sitting around all day getting drunk at the pizza place and it would be harder to shake this impression if he’s drinking soda than if he’s drinking coffee.

  10. Hitorque

    God damnit…

    1. At least just quit the charade that this has Jack Fuckin’ Shit to do with alcoholism… All Batiuk has to do is replace the AA sign in the background with a goddamn “NORTHEAST OHIO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS ASSOCIATION” so this bullshit multi-volume saga about the trials and tribulations of reopening a pizza joint in a literal one pizza joint town can at least have the proper captive audience…

    2. This is the part when I ask why they even had to move out a jukebox in the first place, along with speculate what kind of wacky adventure they endured while moving it, but to be honest I don’t really give a rat’s ass.

  11. Writchie Wretch

    And behind that jukebox we found mice skeletons, four used condoms, a moldy calzone, and a set of dentures.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      And a lost Lisa tape. This one is where Lisa reads her bowel movements to help her make important decisions.

  12. erdmann

    The discussion of tangents the other day reminded me I never went into any more detail about the Gene Autry project I mentioned a while back. If anyone is still interested, here’s the tale of How I Spent My Pandemic.

    Legend has it that Gene Autry signed his first movie contract while visiting a small town in Southern Illinois. Some older residents, none old enough to know first hand, swear it’s true, so I decided to dig. It took seven months, but I found proof that Autry (as well as Smiley Burnette and several other entertainers who would appear in Autry’s films) were in town promoting the WLS National Barn Dance at exactly the right time in April 1934. I learned the owner of the theater where they appeared knew several Hollywood types, including producer Nat Levine. Levine had met Autry a few months earlier in Chicago and, knowing the singer was going to perform at his friend’s theater, sent the contract there for him to sign. A young usher witnessed the signing and, correctly predicting that Autry was destined for big things, took home the pen he used. Its final fate, unfortunately, is unknown.

    Three months later, Autry left for Hollywood. A month after that, he and Burnette made their big screen debuts in the Ken Maynard film “In Old Santa Fe.” It hit the screens in November, by which time Autry and Burnette had filmed two episodes of the serial “Mystery Mountain,” also staring Maynard. At this point, they were still bit players.

    In December (man, they cranked ‘em out fast in those days), Levine was ready to film “The Phantom Empire” with Maynard in the lead, but the two men had a falling out over money (or Maynard’s wild lifestyle, or both, depending on who is telling the story). Maynard quit (or was fired, again depending on who is telling the story), leaving Levine with no lead actor. He turned to Autry and the serial’s success made him a movie star.

    I also learned the source of the legend. The usher’s younger sister and her husband had shared the story years ago. The usher, his sister and her husband are all long gone now, but I met the husband several times back in the 1990s. He was a great old gentleman, highly intelligent and tolerant of my intolerable middle child who tried to climb an exhibit at the local museum.

    It turns out he was more than just a nice old man. I discovered that he played piano for both Dorsey brothers and knew Lawrence Welk, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. If only I had known when he was alive. The stories he could have told! His wife was no slouch in the celebrity friends department, either. Her high school prom date was James Jones, later author of “From Here to Eternity.”

    And that’s my tangent. I thank you for indulging me and promise that, while I am going to the dentist tomorrow, I will not come here tomorrow night to regale with my anesthesia-inspired ideas for “Phantom Empire II: Radio Ranch Boogaloo.”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Cool story. Thanks for sharing!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      That is fascinating. The idea that you could trace Gene Autry’s location at a specific date and time so many years later. And funny to think that you met someone who knew Lawrence Welk. I’ve spent so many Saturday nights at my grandma’s watching that show.

      If you do have a great idea for Phantom Empire II: The Last Thunder Rider, please, don’t hold back. Guaranteed it would be more interesting than listening to Funky complaining about getting the opportunity to deep clean, remodel, and rearrange his restaurant.

    • Maxine of Arc

      [i]I will not come here tomorrow night to regale with my anesthesia-inspired ideas for “Phantom Empire II: Radio Ranch Boogaloo.”[/i]

      Oh, please, please do!

      • William Thompson

        Be sure to say that the anesthesia uncovered some buried memories of what the usher said about the never made “Phantom Empire II.” Think of how that would drive Batiuk crazy!

  13. Cabbage Jack

    Does Batty really think we’re all eager to reminisce about the struggles of lockdowns right now? It’s trying to be topical, but is too late. Trying to be nostalgic, but it’s too close. Trying to be pathos, but it’s too pathetic.

  14. Paul Jones

    The only way this self-pitying rant can forgive itself is if he whines that more people came in because he got rid of the jukebox and band box and all of the other tawdry crap that only appeals to a kitsch-oriented mind like Batiuk’s. It’ll be the public’s ‘fault’ for having taste but it’d be funny o n our terms.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Be funny to see fat pathetic Funky tripping and crushing the Band Box with his ample derrière! Then he stands up and we see the flattened conductor stuck between his cheeks.

  15. sgtsaunders

    His captive audience is probably already passing around pint after pint of whiskey, numbing themselves to the proceedings. Relapse and a hellish recovery period are preferably to any more of Funky’s blather.

  16. I get it, TB. Funky’s business has been hit hard by the effects of COVID. Lots of business closed during the quarantine. Other pizza places survived by emphasizing delivery/take-out over eating in. Apparently, Funky’s business skills (or lack of) caused him to suffer and now wonder how he’ll pay for his reno. Like I said, I get it. In the real world, he could have left the jukebox in place and unplugged it.

  17. The Duck of Death

    Dear lord in heaven….

    After reading this strip several times, scratching my head, I realized the whole “jukebox had to go” idea was nothing but an excuse to make the shockingly weak wordplay on “sum of its parts/some of those parts.”

    That’s why it makes zero sense. The plot serves the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad wordplay he thinks of, not the other way around.

    And of course, Banana Jr. 6000 is right; the expression is “greater than the sum of its parts.” Because everything is always the sum of its parts by definition; it’s only unusual if some synergy between the parts makes it greater. In any case, the expression makes no sense when describing “ambience.” Poor befuddled Batty.


    • The Duck of Death

      Correcting myself: Batiuk even garbled his garbled version of the expression, by rendering it as “the sum of all of its parts.” Gotta get those unnecessary extra words in there. That also had the benefit of destroying the already weak parallelism with “some of those parts.”

  18. The Duck of Death

    “And what brings you to the Emergency Room today, mister… “47,” is it?”

    “Oh, doc, it was horrible! See, I’ve been trying to quit drinking for ages, and … and I’ve been clean for a week. Really struggling with the shakes. So I went to an AA meeting. It was easy to find because of the huge neon billboard and the 4×5 sign in front and the open door where you could hear and see all the alkies. So, anyway, doc, I go in, and I start… I don’t know, hallucinating? like the D.T.’s — I imagined there was this fat guy going on about pizza and jukeboxes and, and… masks, but masks with pizza? and his mother-in-law… this fat monster with gross dots on his nose, just spouting off, and I knew I had to be hallucinating because nothing made sense and no one else seemed to notice or care, and nobody would stop him, and I just had to run away from that place, and check myself in. I think I’m losing it, doc, hallucinating this awful stuff. Put me in the rubber room, please!”

  19. newagepalimpsest

    I would have laughed if Corey was wheeling out the office safe, or if Adeela was carrying the Insulated Pizza Delivery Bag on top of a velvet pillow, or even if Rachel was hanging that picture of Funky and Bill Clinton up in her bedroom. But the jukebox just isn’t that funny.

  20. “Nobody ever came into Montoni’s to eat pizza. And thank God for that! The lawsuits were driving me crazy. No, they just wanted to rub their hands all over the jukebox.”

  21. spacemanspiff85

    I wonder if the jukebox knows that Funky is cheating on it with two Discmans.