Tag Archives: "jokes" that aren't really jokes at all

Odd Man In

Link to another boring nonsensical strip that I still kind of understood because I’m always asking my housemate and best friend if she wants to go to the store with me but man was this week awful with maybe one almost joke and five days of pointless observation and yes this was supposed to be one long run-on sentence for comedic effect.

Full disclosure: Until I read through the Vintage Funky Winkerbean, I assumed Roland was black. I realized my mistake when Derek popped up, asking Les about why ‘brothers and sisters’ weren’t being covered by the school paper, looking like the lost sixth Jackson brother from the Jackson Five cartoon.

Ooh, ooh, Derek, (don’t want you back)

So Roland’s poofy hair was just an Art Garfunkel style jewfro, and Derek is the strip’s first black character. Which other characters seem to only notice and comment on occasionally.

In all of his appearances, there’s only a handful of strips where Derek’s overtly concerned about racism. And it always comes across cringy af. Now-a-days this is the sort of material that gets you twitter cancelled.

A modern activist would call this gaslighting.
I think the joke here is that the computer scheduling has more power than the school board and admin.

Other than these cases, Derek is written as ‘one of the guys’. Sometimes he spouts off Roland-esqe general activist talking points for a laugh.

His main character trait is this sort of weary detachment. In the four years of strips released, I think I’ve seen him smile twice. It’s like, somehow he knows. He knows that he’s stuck in Funky Winkerbean. And the best he can hope for is to feel slightly less than dead inside.

Like Livinia, unspoken identity politics hamstring his range. Because Batiuk wants Derek to be a positive portrayal of a black student, he’s never shown getting into trouble with the principal or being ignorant. He never asks the dumb question. He is the one Funky Winkerbean character that is never the wacky one spouting off inanity. He is all grimace and side-eye.

When Derek delivers the punchlines, they’re clever observations that reveal intelligence, not obliviousness like Batiuk will use for Les or even Funky.

Derek is still showing up in Vintage Funky Winkerbean through 1976. Most recently watching TV with Crazy Harry on 4-10-76.

I doubt he’s going to completely disappear for a while, since he fulfils an important diversity position. He’ll keep showing up until a more gimmicky black boy is introduced, or until Batiuk forgets to remind his audience he’s not racist. In September of 1975 a black female student was introduced, Junebug Jones. She and Derek are dating, and she becomes a cheerleader. Her ‘unorthodox’ cheering strategy is another running gag.

I’m of two conflicting minds on Junebug. On the one hand I wonder if she plays into the lazy stereotype of black girls as loud, aggressive, and tactless. On the other hand, I love seeing a lady with some backbone.

Derek and Junebug, one of the first couples in Funky Winkerbean. She might not have liked the odds, but she should have placed her bets. By the 1998 class reunion arc, they are confirmed to be married.

Crazy/Holly: the ship not taken.

And by the 2008 reunion they have grandkids!

Don’t worry Funky, I’m sure Corey and Rocky will give you some grandkids eventually. Maybe. If they get around to it.

Junebug shows up again in 2015, as part of The Upcoming Reunion planning committee.

Note: Except for poor Barry Balderman here, none of these other people are actually seen at The Time Pool reunion. I like to think they bailed when they realized what a shitshow it was going to be.

So, really, despite all his grumbling, it seems like Derek and Junebug had it pretty good for Funky Winkerbean characters. They escaped the plot before the Act II drama hit, and every subsequent cameo appearance has only reinforced their happy ending.

He who laughs last…

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White Bread Found and Lost

Link to a strip that is somehow more nonsensical than yesterday’s.

Before we dive into individual characters. I thought we would briefly take a look at 1972 as a whole, just to see the cast of characters at play, and how often they showed up. This list misses out on a few characters that showed up more than once, but didn’t have names, such as an older curly haired teacher, a cashier, and the school librarian. Also, the records on CK are somewhat incomplete, there were strips missing. This is just to give a rough overview.

Below, the trademark CBH nonsense spreadsheet! Funky Winkerbean characters of 1972 listed by number of appearances.

Corrected on 3/26/22

It seems that, from the very beginning, Les and Funky were the main focus. Poor Livinia Swenson never stood a chance.

The second strip she’s in, (which is almost 2 weeks after the launch,) it seems to me that she’s set up as a distaff counterpart to Funky, his equal in averageness. The way their hair is only differentiated by length, like they’re the Wonder Twins or something, only furthers this impression.

Easy, slugger! You’ve got 50 years of this to write. Don’t use up all your puns at once!

But, in the grand scheme, she doesn’t show up that often. Like everyone in the cast, she puts in time as the ‘Person-Who-Asks-Question’ and the ‘Person-Who-Watches-TV-And-Makes-Face.’ Roles anyone and everyone fills, almost always devoid of specific connection between line and speaker that would keep them from being swapped with someone else.

When her personality does manifest itself, she’s opinionated, strong-willed, and socially conscious with a focus on ecology and feminism.

He’s been talking about global warming from THE VERY BEGINNING, guys!

She’s also never afraid to step on someone’s toes or hurt some feelings. She’s got this kind of blunt honesty I really like.

She’s shown to be questioning gender norms, but unlike other political opinions only mined for yuks, hers can be sympathetically presented, where the joke isn’t her question, but the response.

When I put all of Livinia’s strips together, it seems obvious why Batiuk never could muster up much interest in her. She’s built to sit on this intersection between average and activist, and that severely limits her range. Batiuk doesn’t want too many of the jokes to come at her expense. He wants her to be a more or less positive representation of a ‘modern’ free-thinking teen girl. So the only gimmick he gave her can’t be exaggerated too much. And in order to survive Act I FW, if you’re not Funky himself, you have to have a solid gimmick to mine for humor. Despite what Les said above, Livinia was subtle, too subtle to last as a main character once Holly and Cindy were introduced.

Which is too bad. Because she was unrelentingly cruel to Les, and it was beautiful.

Currently on Comics Kingdom Vintage Funky Winkerbean is up to May of 1976, and Livinia hasn’t completely disappeared, showing up on April 21, taking a test.

Her appearances have become few and far between, however. I don’t know when the last time she shows up alive is, but I’m wondering if it’ll be soon. I couldn’t see any sign of her in the strips I found of the Act II class reunions of 1992 and 1998, though what I had to look at via scanned microfiche was pretty blurry. By the reunion of 2008, she was dead.

Any Act I guys with the last name Jessup? I am honestly curious.

Farewell Livinia. You were too good for this strip.

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I Wanna Go Home

FUNKY AWARDS VOTING! IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO PICK WHICH LES MOORE FACE IS MOST PUNCHABLE. VOTE TODAY!

Link to today’s nonsensical offering.

Many of you yesterday were baffled by how obtuse and unfunny Funky telling his wife he couldn’t find hamburger was. So much so, that poor Duck of Death could only wave the white flag of defeat.

Batiuk’s done it. He’s created The Unsnarkables™️, a series of comics so nondescript that they can’t be mocked. Like a piece of driftwood, a discarded gum wrapper, or a random rock in a park, they just exist uselessly without making any kind of impression, leaving no openings for snark or humor.

I admit defeat. Tom has won.

This is TRAGIC. A valued commenter has been weighed down by the sheer baffling yet boring inanity of Funky Winkerbean in January, and now sits slumped in the trenches, unwilling to fight. I hunch down by our wearied and war torn comrade, shell shocked by a barrage of nonsense, and I whisper in their ear the warcry of the Son of Stuck Funky blogger: “Nothing is Unsnarkable.”

Pick those Nits RIGHT OFF EM, BOYS!

Our gallant sergeant SpacemanSpiff85 once snarked for 100 words on a silent strip of sidewalk renovations. Staff-sergeant Billy the Skink once wrote six hilarious haiku on three wordless panels of a woman realizing her brain damaged husband had taken the car keys. I’ve snarked over dialogue-less panels of SALAD DRESSING! Look around you Duck of Death! These brave nitpickers once snarked for an entire week on nothing but envelope opening!

Are you tired? Rest. We shall take up your burden. But know. Know deep in your heart. That someone here will fight this beast. Someone here will take on this monster. Someone here will find SOMETHING FUNNY to say ABOUT NOTHING.

11 military propaganda posters that are surprisingly convincing - We Are  The Mighty

And cheer up. While today’s strip makes somehow even less sense than ANYTHING I’ve seen in weeks. At least it has the possibility to get a great Beach Boys song stuck in your head.

And now for your Comic Book Harriet Useless Factoid Report.

  • It is believed that there was a real Sloop John B. It sunk off the coast of the Bahamas in the 17th century.
  • The lyrics to the Bahaman folk song were first published in 1916, by Richard Le Gallienne, in Harper’s Monthly Magazine.
  • Richard Le Gallienne had a friendship, and even a brief love affair, with Oscar Wilde. Though he was also a notorious womanizer who was married three times.
  • Poet, Carl Sandberg, included “The John B Sails” in his 1927 collection of American folksongs, The American Songbag.
  • Carl Sandberg won three Pulitzer Prizes in his lifetime. Which is three more than Tom Batiuk has won.
  • Carl Sandberg claimed he collected the song from American artist, war correspondent, and political cartoonist John T. McCutcheon.
  • McCutcheon owned a private island in the Bahamas, where he often lived.
  • In 1932, McCutcheon won a Pulitzer Prize for cartooning. Which is one more than Tom Batiuk has won.

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The Allegory of The Freezer

2021 FUNKY AWARDS VOTING! VOTE TODAY! VOTING ENDS JANUARY 16TH!

Link to Today’s Philosophical Dialogue.

And now consider this: If this person who had climbed out of the basement were to go back down again and look in the same freezer as before, would he not find in that case, coming suddenly upon the myriad of frozen packages and frost, that his clouded eyes be filled with confusion?

Now if once again, along with his wife, the married person who had looked there had to again engage in the business of digging and searching about the freezer– while his eyes are still weak and before they have readjusted, an adjustment that would require quite a bit of time — would he not then be exposed to ridicule down there? And would she not let him know that he had gone up to say the thing is not there but only in order to come back down into the basement to look with his ruined eyes — and thus it certainly does not pay to go up at all.

And if she get hold of this searched for thing, finding it there all along, and takes it in hand to bring it from their freezer and to carry it up. If she could kill him, will she not actually kill him?

She certainly will.

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Take No Thought…What Ye Shall Put On

Link to Today’s Strip.

On the one hand, we have another nonsensical Dinkle strip.

On the other hand, we have a Dinkle plan failing.

So it’s a glass of poison half full kind of day.

I was kind of surprised we didn’t get an unconnected Sunday strip celebrating Mother’s Day. It would be nice to get a peek in on any of the parental storylines that have been dangling for years. How old is Skyler now? Are Corey and Rocky ever getting married? Are Summer and Keisha ever graduating college? What are Jinx and Mickey going to do for Linda? Are Crazy Harry’s children ever returning from the netherrealm hellscape they fell into?

But nah. We get an inane and confusing strip, where I have no idea what ‘think outside the choir loft’ might mean, and I can’t tell if Dinkle is shouting ‘Bingo!’ as an exclamation of affirmation, a suggestion of gambling, or the idea to sell the cat for money. And I have no idea if the old lady in the last panel is trying to let Dinkle know bingo the fundraising game is taken by another church group, or the cat Bingo has been taken by animal control.

And it’s still dumb as sin, sinfully dumb, and just plain sinful, that this church choir is expending so much effort to buy choir robes. Choir robes. A pointless boondoggle for a congregation who, if choir participation is anything to go by, is dying from lack of young people and men.

St. Peter would be very grumpy at you!

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Peter 3:3-4.

For any of you readers who are Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, Dog Moms, Cat Moms, or just enjoy worrying over people who don’t dress warmly and making sure everyone has snacks, Happy Mother’s Day. Your work is valued, and you are loved. And you deserve so much more today than a Dinkle strip.

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Is That a Threat?

Link to Today’s Strip.

I know his smiling face is meant to look benevolent, but there is something unsettling about Dinkle in the third panel today. Like I can imagine him hissing “Do it in key!” with a low gentle threat in each word, gripping Bingo’s neck ever so slightly; the gentle petting turning to a slight controlling clutch around the jaws. Like at any moment he could grab the cat by the head and fling him forcefully into the nave below. “Do it in key…” Dinkle whispers, “or you’ll be flat.”

A chilling thought; but more likely it’s Dinkle who is in for a world of hurt. Because you do NOT put your face that close to a cat you’ve just met.

Today’s Strip Corrected Version

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Cat Catechumen

Link To Today’s Strip

When I first saw this week’s strips I was skeptical of the feasibility of a cat living in a church. I know that businesses, nursing homes, and libraries have kept cats in the past; I’ve seen the same puff pieces in the lifestyles section as everyone else.

But with roughly 20 percent of people having some level of allergic reaction to cats, I had a hard time believing that any church would risk annoying congregants and turning away potential parishioners by letting a feline frolic through the foyer. On the other hand, Tom steals more story ideas than Shakespeare, there was a good chance he’d come across some fluffy choir cat story on the news. So I went on a quest to find church cats.

After cutting out the results for the undead monster cat from Pet Semetary, I found, among others, the following adorable moggy muffins curling up between the pews. And really, aren’t cat pictures better than trying to find something to say about Lillian talking to Dinkle about vermin?

Samuel Emmanuel who lived at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Southern Pines, North Carolina from 2000 to 2006
Simon, who has lived in The Church of the Advent in Boston since 2012
Doorkins Magnificat, who lived in the Southwark Cathedral in London from 2008 to 2020, and became a minor celebrity/church mascot.

Canterbury Cathedral has several cats, and a few made the news this past year for sneaking into the live streams of The Dean of Canterbury’s prayers.

Canterbury Cathedral cat steals the show during sermon - again! | Meridian  | ITV News
Tiger, who also loves pancakes.

Sadly, back in 2013 the cathedral mourned the loss of one of their sweet sneaky boys. His name? Laptop.

Laptop: Canterbury Cathedral Cat Remembered | Canterbury cathedral, Cats,  Kitten meowing
Suck it Bingo. Here’s the Lion King of uniquely named church cats.

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There Were Some Bats Who Had A Cat…

Link To Today’s Strip

The knowing smirks exchanged by the characters today signaled to me that there was supposed to be a joke somewhere in here, even though I didn’t see it on first glance.

After hours of careful study and research, I’ve decided the joke was that the cat is actually named Bingo because St. Spires, like many churches, supports itself with organized charitable gambling.

Which lends weight to St Spires being Catholic. Church Bingo tends to be a Catholic exercise, though in big cities, it might be Jewish. Back in the heyday, Protestant ministers would lambast Bingo as a vile and immoral game of chance, really no better than the indulgences that had once funded the papacy. Even today, some churches struggle with the morality of making their money from hosting gambling, often by people outside their congregation.

But back in the Great Depression, Bingo kept many parishes from shutting their doors. Edwin Lowe, the man who first sold the game under the name BINGO, claimed he was approached by a Catholic Priest only months after he first started selling Bingo. It was because of the concerns of this priest that Lowe contacted Columbia University math professor, Carl Leffler, to create thousands of unique Bingo cards, so there would be less repeated winners. According to legend, the math professor subsequently went insane.

Of course, Lowe only improved and named an already existing game. The first attestations of a bingo-like game date all the way back to Italy in the 16th century. And the word ‘Bingo’ also predates association with the game by centuries. Lowe claimed that he chose the name after a player of ‘Beano’, the game’s precursor, shouted ‘Bingo!’ when she won. In the 1920’s, the word ‘bingo’ had become an expression of surprise and success.

The semi-nonsensical word had been circulating for a long time. Before most of us have ever played a game of Bingo, we are taught the nursery song about a farmer’s dog. And that song is older than the US Constitution. The earliest printed version of the song with a dog named Bingo was listed in The Humming Bird songbook in 1785.

“The farmer’s dog leapt over the stile,
his name was little Bingo,
the farmer’s dog leapt over the stile,
his name was little Bingo.”

But WHY was the dog named Bingo? Well, the answer may be in the forgotten second verse.

“The farmer loved a cup of good ale,
he called it rare good stingo,
the farmer loved a cup of good ale,
he called it rare good stingo.”

The farmer was a raging alcoholic.

See, the song was originally a drinking song.

And some of the earliest attestations of the word ‘bingo’ list it as a slang term for brandy.

So if the cat isn’t named after gambling, she’s definitely named after booze.

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Eye Do Not Care Anymore

Is Funky telling the truth in today’s strip? Last time we saw him get a physical was in early 2017, when he and Holly flew to Dallas (sure…) to visit a so-called “superclinic” (sure… again) for physicals. Well, Holly claimed it was an annual physical back then, so maybe the Winkerbeans’ annual January Dallas superclinic physical trip just recently happened. Not sure when that would have been, we’ve seen Funky and/or Holly every single week so far this month…

Oh wait, none of that matters. Nurse Scrunchie doesn’t care about Funky’s physical health, she just needs to know if he can afford to pay for his cataract surgery. What a scathing and original commentary on the American healthcare system! Groundbreaking stuff!

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¡Eye Caramba!

I apologize that the post title significantly oversells the drab discharge that is today’s strip. Funky has cataracts, just like many people over age 65. Cataracts make it hard to see clearly, as Dr. Droopy so helpfully informs us. Will Funky and Dr. Droopy decide what to do about these cataracts by Saturday? If you care about the answer to that question, please seek help.

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