What’s Goin’ On Here?

Posted by on August 23rd, 2010 at 8:49 AM

Guy and Rodd produce more incomprehensible gags in their Brevity panel than nearly anyone this side of the Continental Divide. What, for instance, can we make of these?

(If the image is too small to read—which, for most of us, it is—the recommended procedure is to click on the image and it enlarges. For some inexplicable and presumably temporary reason, when you do that here, you and the picture are merely transported to another plane, where the picture resides more-or-less alone, same size as before; but if you click on it again, there, it’ll get much larger—large enough, usually, to read. Try it: you’ll like it.)

In the first one, there’s a woodchuck digging a hole with a power tool—something woodchucks don’t do because they’re all Amish and eschew modern technology? Is that the only reason they don’t use power tools? And that’s funny?

Well, I guess.

And I can’t put any other construction on the gag.

But the bee burial ground (on the right) is beyond my meager powers of interpretation. There’s a Saturn 9 van in the background—does that have anything to do with the so-called joke? Maybe if I had a jacuzzi I’d understand.

Then we encounter this one, a Scary Gary strip by Mark Buford.

“Carnivorous” means “meat eater,” right? So Gary is trying to make Leopold’s carnivorous brain ticks think he’s made of cheese, not meat? You are what you eat, they say.

But, no, I give up.

Next we have F-Minus by Tom Carrillo in which two brats are running off having defaced the chef’s cake’s icing.

That’s it, right? The kids act towards the icing as kids always do when confronted by fresh cement? They leave their hand prints and a message in the wet stuff? At first, I thought “brats” was short for bratwurst; but that was pretty far out, even for me.

And is that a cement paddle the chef holds? Or just the usual chef’s knife-smoother-outer thingy?

Below that—Zits is usually understandable to me (and I admire the strip fervently), but this one—I’m lost. The progression of images—from a fishing bear, to a fishing fisherman, whose line, strung out ashore, reminds us of the anchor of an aircraft carrier—is this to suggest that Jeremy is taking a long time in the shower? He is apparently answering the question: “What are you doing in there?” The implication being that whatever he’s doing is taking a loooooong time. So long that his father imagines he’s fishing or at anchor?

That’s it?

And Guy and Rodd return, Briefly, with another specimen.

What’s funny here? Usually, we see these signs without seeing the thing they are warning about; but here, thanks to Rye and Godd, we see the dog to be beware of, the wet floor to step gingerly on, and the tornado we’re being warned about. So that’s funny.

And what about the close-up of the bald guy with the moustache? Is that, somehow, significant?

Next time, we’ll take up the matter of how a poorly drawn picture can ruin the joke.

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7 Responses to “What’s Goin’ On Here?”

  1. copper-man says:

    All right, I’ll bite:

    Brevity: the first one is vague, the second one is just a play on Poltergeist. The color panel is supposed to be a progression – guy chased by dog, runs into wet spot and then panics as he sees he’s sliding into a tornado. Agreed that the composition really makes it difficult to read (Lord knows why they felt the need to put the bald guy in the foreground).

    Scary Gary: The brain mites are eating the guy on the left’s brain – which is why he’s losing IQ points as the strip progresses. Pretty funny, actually.

    F-Minus: Yep, cement joke.

    Zits: The kid was in the shower so long that he used up all the water.

  2. DerikB says:

    I think the bee burial/jacuzzi one is implying that the people are some kind of liberal hippy types who are so p.c. they won’t even kill the bees that are in their way (which in this scenario are metaphorical related to native americans). It’s still not funny, though.

  3. Caro says:

    The zits one I think is about the consequences of wasting water.

  4. Tim Tylor says:

    I’m guessing the carnivorous brain ticks are ticks that eat brains, and that Gary’s brain has been tick-chewed, hence the random cheese-talk. And that Jeremy of “Zits” has been in the shower long enough to drain most of the planet’s water (comic hyperbole – in real life it’d flow back through the sewer system, leaving the sea intact but sweat-polluted). I suppose the bees are undead bees (zombees?) swarming up from subterranean bee-tombs, but you can’t tell them from ordinary bee-bees at that scale so it doesn’t really work. I’ve nothing on the tornado sign.

  5. The bee/jacuzzi cartoon is referring to the movie ‘Poltergeist’. The family unleashes an ancient evil when they install an in-ground swimming pool. Turns out the site was an ancient Native American burial ground. But past that, I’d agree Derik B. above as far as the p.c./hippy overtones.

  6. Wesley says:

    I think in most cases there’s no point in trying too hard to interpret these gag strips: they really are as flat and obvious as they appear to be.

    I think the gag in the last strip is that, unlike the first two examples, “Tornado Warning” isn’t a sign, but a siren that goes off when a tornado’s been spotted. The gag is an inept visual pun: we put up “Beware of Dog” signs around poorly behaved dogs, and “Slippery When Wet” signs when the floor is wet, so maybe we need a “Tornado Warning” sign where the local tornado hangs out. Ha ha.

    As for the head… I have no clue. Maybe the artist thought the cartoon needed a reader-identification figure to gaze at the scene with a raised eyebrow. Odd place to put him, though.

  7. R.C. Harvey says:

    Okay—now I’m thoroughly straightened out and informed. How I could miss the Zits thing, I dunno: obviously (now that it’s been pointed out to me), Jeremy has used up all the water on the planet. But I don’t think the warning signs cartoon is a “progression” of action by a single character: I think, probably, that its a dramatization of what might happen if the warning signs were “followed” immediately by the thing they warn about. I’m not sure why that’s funny.
    Otherwise—I concur all over the place with your interpretations.