So let's extend the discussion of niche-y inside humor from Saturday's posting with today's Heart of the City.
I'm not a huge movie fan, and certainly not enough of one to know all the directors. I know the ones who genuinely become brands, so a gag like this PBS from 2003 is not lost on me and, in fact, made me laugh enough that I snagged it for my files:
But I'm better off with gags like this Mad Magazine piece, where some people see it as a take on the filmmaker but I saw it more as referencing the movie itself and the upcoming war:
In fact, I think seeing it as anything more than I did is overthinking the matter. The smaller print (click for readable size) says a lot more about its purpose as political commentary than as a spoof of a particular producer or director.
Harry J. Abrams publishers have stepped into the graphic novel sector of the book business in a very big way, not only with the blockbuster "Wimpy Kid" franchise but with the work of an artist particularly close to this blog, Brian Fies. And if Harry's name were Jerry instead,well, then, he'd be JJ Abrams, too, wouldn't he?
In any case, it didn't take me long to realize that they weren't saying there was about to be a new, high-quality series of Star Wars graphic novels but rather a new Star Wars movie.
Okay. We'll see if Fonzie can un-jump that shark.
Meanwhile, what works so well in today's HotC is that the gag is equally funny if you have no idea who JJ Abrams is or why Dean is so excited. In other words, Heart's reaction is more or less my reaction, and this is a very well-played bit of insider humor.
Today's Brevity plays the insider game a little closer to the edge. It's not unreasonable to ask a general audience to catch the BB gun joke from "A Christmas Story," since the movie, an icon among those under 40, gets enough chatter and airplay that you've really got to live under a rock not to get jokes that reference (A) a lamp shaped like a leg, (B) a tongue stuck to flagpole and (C) "You'll put your eye out."
The Nick Fury reference, however, makes it an insider joke, because, unless you know that Nick Fury wears an eye patch, the whole thing falls flat. Granted that Nick Fury has had that eye patch for half a century, he still dwells in the Marvel universe and not even at the top of the pile there.
But this may be more a case of a "passing of the guard" than niche humor, because the old-school gag would reference "The Hathaway Shirt Man's mother ..." and there are more people alive today who would get the Nick Fury reference than that one. Plus, having an actual name makes it flow better.
The Hathaway Shirt Man is only 12 years older than Nick Fury, but still, I think, qualifies as pretty long in the tooth for comic strip references, and I'm quite certain that Stan Lee is better known today than David Ogilvie.
Conclusion: It's always good when you can let the Old Farts in on the gag without destroying it, but there's a point at which you have to shrug and just make the right joke. This was the right joke.
Other Conclusion: And then there are times when you kind of hope the older readers don't get the joke. I think it's time to call social services about the Lucy and Ethel of the funny pages ...
Meanwhile, back on the Mandatory Mush watch:
Dave Blazek may or not have had Vermont Teddy Bear commercials in mind when he drew this, but the joke is nearly as absurd as the real thing:
The panel is funny to begin with, but it got a whole lot funnier when Vermont Teddy Bear launched a commercial -- which may only be regional but I think is national -- promoting a freaking giant teddy bear as the perfect Valentine's Day gift.
And this is a 2012 commercial, so it must have worked last year, which is kind of scary. Check this out:
I think a girl would be better off with the hungry, prey-seeking bear from the side of the road than dating a guy who thinks this is a great gift. And for whom a successful opening advertising gambit is the overt suggestion that giving his girlfriend a giant teddy bear will somehow compensate for the inadequacy of his penis.
Aside from the tone-deafness of not recognizing that it is precisely the fragility and temporary nature of cut flowers that makes them a great gift, or the general weirdness of that whole take on chocolate, there's something really creepy about giving a woman such a inescapably huge, "guaranteed for life" present.
She's kind of stuck with displaying it, isn't she, unless she has so much spare closet space that she can tuck the damn thing away somewhere?
I mean, it's not like giving her a ring or a diamond pendant that she could stick in a drawer if there were an occasion when she didn't want to explain a ring or a diamond pendant to someone.
There's a photo currently floating around on Facebook of a woman whose boyfriend persuaded her to cover half her face with a tattoo of his name. That, certainly, is creepier and more controlling than buying a four-and-a-half foot bear to guard her apartment.
Why don't you just lift your leg on one of her bedposts?