Leave the Gun, Take the Calamari

Banana Jr. 6000
February 18, 2022 at 8:06 am
[E]veryone in Funky Winkerbean is just a schlub from Westview. Even the people who are supposed to be celebrities. And aren’t from Westview.

As lame as yesterday‘s punchline was (“She was a real hair-devil!”), it did meet the requirements of a joke. Barely. But I can’t tell what’s supposed to be funny about today’s strip. Panel one shows some promise: for a Hollywood movie star, that Mason “Crappy Internet” Jarre is a cheap bastard, all right. When the waiter (the mystery mug in this week’s masthead!) confirms his order, Mason appears stricken, and then proceeds to pointedly “correct” his server: “No…no appetizer!” as Marianne sits, smirks, and simpers. What the hell does Mason think comprises “one calamari”? Cut into rings, battered, and deep fried, with a side of marinara, squid can indeed be tasty. But a whole, cooked squid on a plate would appeal only to the most adventurous foodie, and that ain’t Mason. Calamari (or as we say it in Jersey, galamad) isn’t even on the appetizer menu at Musso and Frank, where this lunch is supposedly taking place. Nor is it  on the menu [PDF] at Luigi’s of Akron, which is just as well because their galamad would probably suck.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

52 responses to “Leave the Gun, Take the Calamari

  1. Epicus Doomus

    I think the gag is supposed to be that Mason is a vain, appearance-obsessed Hollywood asshole, possibly with an eating disorder. Because Hollywood is so phony, you see. And I know this is funny because Batiuk keeps telling me it is, every time he does one of these Hollywood arcs. The guy sure can carry a grudge.

    You know that at some point this year he’ll do a puff-piece interview for the Sunday supplement where he’ll mention how he did a lengthy story about the Academy Awards and technically that will be true. But, of course, the fact that this story about the Academy Awards couldn’t possibly have anything less to do with the Academy Awards will never be mentioned. It’s not really a “story” about anything at all, other than how Hollywood is so phony, which we already knew.

    And nothing is going to “happen” until Les somehow gets involved, THEN nothing will happen until “Lisa’s Story” is front and center. And even then, “happen” will be very loosely defined.

  2. William Thompson

    “Sir, ‘appetizer’ is our eaterys high-falutin’ term for a child’s portion, and seeing as you two are the most childish people I’ve ever served, I cogitated that you would endeavor to desire such a small and inexpensive serving. Would you care for a wine cooler with your order or would you prefer Pepsis?”

  3. Sourbelly

    One calimari would be a calimaro. I bring up this pedantic point only because I have absolutely no clue as to what the joke is about.

    And Mayonaisseson looks like some losing presidential candidate from the 1880s.

    • Epicus Doomus

      I have to believe the “gag” here is that Mason is fat, although it’d probably play a lot better if Mason was actually, you know, fat. Big fat Mason, sweating and wheezing and popping buttons on his trousers, now that would be funny. But it’d also involve effort and all kinds of coordination between the artist and the word balloon filler, which seems way too complicated and involved for FW.

      • Mr. A

        Yeah, I think the joke is that Mason is “skipping” the appetizer by ordering (half of) an appetizer-sized portion as an entrée, to lose weight. But as is often the case in FW, Batiuk phrased it in an awkward way. To my ear, it almost sounds like Mason has mistaken the word “appetizer” for a particular way of preparing calamari.

        “Very good…one salmon en croûte.”

        “No…no en croûte! We’ll just split one salmon!”

      • Charles

        Yeah, that’s my thought on the gag, that Mason is fat so he’s cutting down on eating, so he and Marianne will share a plate of calamari and not have anything else. Bet the waiter just loves that when Mason gives him a 12% tip.

        Batiuk could have done a different joke with a similar punchline that would have made sense and not made his superstar actor look so pathetic: Mason orders a ton of stuff and barely eats any of it.

        “We ordered the wild cherry gelato pie just so we could look at it.”

        It would still make Mason look like an asshole, but it’s too late for that anyway.

        • Epicus Doomus

          Or he could have just drawn Mason fat, with Marianne there for the “oh my!” reaction shot. But he looks exactly the same as he always does. It’s SUCH an easy gag, but of course they totally gunked it up.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        When Fat Stuff in *Smilin’ Jack* popped buttons, there was a chicken in the panels who’d eat them. Now, that was funny!

        But then again, Fat Stuff actually was fat..

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It makes Mason look like a fraud, doesn’t it? Mr. “I Know How Hollywood Works” doesn’t know how to place an order correctly at an iconic Hollywood grill? It’s a mistake that a real Hollywood figure wouldn’t make. And it would have repercussions, Hollywood being a very image-conscious place.

      Same thing happened in the “pitch meetings” arc, where Mason proclaimed his own expert status, but was constantly caught off-guard by what happened in them,

      Which is why this “pedantic” stuff matters. It creates an impression about the character that I’m sure Batiuk doesn’t intend. It undermines the story. It’s poor writing. And it’s so easily avoidable that it betrays how little effort he’s putting into any of this.

  4. ComicBookHarriet

    Did the old butler from Downton Abbey have trouble finding a new job? Is he back on the all Hollywood waiters are actually out of work actors bit?

  5. none

    My first responsive thought recalled the “one rib” bit from I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, but I can pretty much bet my last fifteen cents (or $100) that he’s never heard of that movie, much less seen it.

    • hitorque


    • TimP

      The tragic irony is that in the fanciest (!) of barbecue places, nowadays you might want to just get one rib and it’ll cost you more than fifty cents.

      This is not a dig at the BBQ places that are really in a pinch trying to sell their carefully sourced and crafted wares at a profit for prices that aren’t what folks are usually used to…

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    The Three Stooges mistaking a Dungeness crab on a platter for a tarantula or a turtle in “A Pain in the Pullman”; the Clampetts thinking a pool table in their new home is a “fancy eatin’ table” on “The Beverly Hillbillies”; Kermit ordering a bottle of “Sparking Muscatel – One of the finest wines of Idaho!” while dining with Miss Piggy in “The Muppet Movie”: these are all “fish out of water” food jokes that work. Today’s FW is not one of those. Are we really supposed to believe that someone who’s been to enough Hollywood eateries as Masonne wouldn’t have some idea as to what calamari is? And of course Mopey Marianne will just sit there silently making moon eyes as Mr. Jarre proceeds to make an asse of himself yet again.

    This is…miles beyond pathetic.

  7. Green Luthor

    I guess… he only wants one single piece of calamari, instead of the whole plate of it? To split between two people? I guess… Mason is trying to lose that “Covid 15” twice?

    This one definitely needs an extra panel where the waiter says “Christ, what an asshole.” (Though I suppose that’s true for, like, 95% of all FW strips nowadays, isn’t it?)

  8. gleeb

    When I was a kid we had some neighbors who would grill whole squid. Smelled good, at least.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      My grandma would sauté the calamari in olive oil with some garlic. My Italian grandpa liked it served on a salad with bitter greens. He would dress the salad with lemon and olive oil…delicious!

  9. Dood

    The three stages of Funky Winkerbean. Panel one: Smug. Panel two: Bewildered. Panel three: Defeated.

  10. Gerard Plourde

    I guess TomBa couldn’t decide which dig at Mason he wanted to make, his “COVID 15” extra pounds or his stinginess highlighted by Marianne’s comment about his lousy internet, so he served up a punch line that could be read both ways.

    I also wonder whether Musso and Frank’s still gets the A Listers it did in the past. While I don’t doubt that it’s probably thriving, but its clientele may be more tourists and Hollywood History buffs, rather than actors, writers, and producers. I suspect that TomBa’s knowledge of it goes back to his Butter Brinkle research. Can we hope to see Zanzibar The Murder Chimp doing a cameo sitting at the bar?

    • be ware of eve hill

      As I wrote the other day, we went there once when we lived in Orange County. It was one of those times when you visit some place just to say you’ve done it.

      Not sure about A listers, but we saw Danny Trejo. For a scary looking guy, who plays many intimidating characters, he sure did laugh and smile a lot.

      No Leo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt or George Clooney. ☹

    • Can we hope to see Zanzibar The Murder Chimp doing a cameo sitting at the bar

  11. Professor Fate

    I join in the utter bafflement as to what this strip is about. Still usually folks looking after their weight order a salad yes? And in the last panel Mason looks like he’s about to have a stroke.
    I’m a bit worried as this has the feel of the last days of Apt 3G incoherence.

  12. hitorque

    1. Motherfucker, why did you even invite her to lunch at a famous restaurant (I remember it from “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood”) when you could have just met her for drinks? Better yet, certainly there’s some kind of trendy vegan-kale-avocado fruit smoothie joint that’s really popular with the Hollywood crowd?

    1a. Marianne is thinking “I actually rolled out of bed, showered and got dressed for ONE calamari?! Guess I gotta hit Taco Bell on the way home…”

    2. This isn’t a date, so why is Masone ordering for Marianne?

    3. Am I really to believe this Musso’s place doesn’t serve **SALADS**?!

    4. Like I said before, Masone — If you’re too fucking lazy to stay in some kind of shape even though your livelihood depends on it, just hire a personal trainer already before you eat yourself right out of those dull, unserious action/sci-fi roles paying you an easy $30 million a pop…

  13. batgirl

    I’m guessing the joke-adjacent-intention is for the hypothetical reader to remember the obscure “Covid 15” throwaway line from an earlier strip, have understood TB’s intention with that, and put it together with the obscurely adjusted order here, and deduce that Masone is attempting to lose weight gained during the variably-timed lockdown by starving himself.
    Unclear is why Mason assumes that Marianne will happily go along with this, but my guess is that he is now in a Dinkle-like mentor relationship to her, and so can order for her, decide how much she may eat, and direct her life choices (how to meet the press) while assuming no responsibility for any negative outcomes – “screwed either way”.

    If this resembled Hollywood in any way at all, Mason would have put on some poundage to portray schlubby Les (the Academy likes that sort of commitment) and be undergoing a Body by Jake do-over in prep for the next Starbuck Jones trilogy. He wouldn’t be cutting his calorie intake, he’d be slugging back protein shakes to fuel his workouts.
    TB’s idea of dieting goes back to the 50s or 60s – it doesn’t matter what you eat, just eat very little.
    Mason ordering for Marianne also goes back to the 50s, and even then it was considered a bad sign for a relationship.

  14. Banana Jr. 6000

    And while Tom Batiuk has Funky Winkerbean into Week Two of giving himself an Oscar, he’s using his blog to fish for compliments:

    The February 13 Funky Sunday featured my Elementals Force battling the Strong Force. What follows are James Pascoe’s sketches for the Strong Force characters. Can I hear a “nailed it” for James?

    No, Mr. Batiuk. You may not.

    • Weird that Batty waited a week after that Sunday comics cover ran to post Pascoe’s sketches as he usually touts guest appearances weeks or months ahead of time.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Highly unstable – Must release energy burst regularly or will explode.

      Sweet! Let’s discover a way to prevent Pion from releasing an energy blast. I want to see her blow up (real good).

      Query: Is Batty trying to push the blame for the lame villain designs on James Pascoe? Isn’t that kind of like passing the blame for a fart on the dog?

  15. I can’t even imagine the thinking process that developed today’s episode.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Three words in your comment that had nothing to do with the development of today’s episode.

      1.) Imagine
      2.) Thinking.
      3.) Process.

  16. Suicide Squirrel

    This may be an unpopular opinion, but can we please bring Les into the story? Just to move it along? This is just painful.

    If Mason or Marianne asks for separate checks, I’m ringing Batyuk’s doorbell and knocking him out.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Oh, that’s an unpopular opinion all right. Not necessarily wrong, but “high risk”, let’s call it. Urban legend has it that if you grow a goatee and wish for Les to appear three times, a copy of The Trilogy will hit you on the head and believe me, that’s gonna leave a welt.

      Of course, when it happens you’ll be begging him to go away. Les is persistent, like a bad rash or an ear infection. Sometimes he appears and six weeks later he’s still there, with that book of his. Shudder.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        And this particular story is worse than most, because of how hard Batiuk is going to twist the universe to make Les the hero.

  17. Rick Brooks

    Nice title, TFH.

    I got the reference!

  18. be ware of eve hill

    Well, misery loves company. I’m somewhat relieved to read that I’m not the only one having trouble understanding the last several Funky Winkerbean comic strips. I didn’t post yesterday because I was too embarrassed to admit I didn’t understand “hair devil.” Someone had to help me.

    Apparently, I’m not in cognitive decline yet. I’m just a victim of toxic bad joke syndrome. Too many Batty blows!

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      If there’s one important safety tip we all should follow here, it’s “never blame your failure to understand Funky Winkerbean on yourself.” This comic strip straight-up makes no sense most of the time. It doesn’t even mimic the structure of humor or narrative well enough to make its intent clear. Assume you’re not the one with the problem, and enjoy the ride.

      • That’s why this stuff is so baffling. Human beings have an innate need to try and make sense of what they are presented with, and to fit it into some kind of framework.

        That’s why today’s episode makes absolutely no sense to me. I’m trying to imagine someone writing this dialogue, and then deciding “Yeah, this is really good. Ready to publish.”

        As you point out, it makes no sense…but somehow, to Tom Batiuk, this is a great episode. To me, it’s not funny, insightful, poignant there isn’t even any terrible wordplay…it has no content at all. But to Tom Batiuk, it’s a triumph.