Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mildly Unhinged Letters to the Editor: RMJ=H Edition

Welcome back to our semi-regular feature spotlighting your idiotic meaningless thoughts that do not represent the views of this balog or those of our spiritual founder and superior commenter, MKM.  Tonight, our guest is comment of the year co-finalist, RMJ=H, the guy you know for making that one really funny comment, and then like 600 shitty inside baseball jokes.  No, not Raysism.  The other one.  Without further ado, I give you, RMJ=H.

A few weeks back (ed. note: this is because I sat on this for a while - sorry), I pulled off this little one-two punch making fun of Chuck Knoblauch.

I was proud of the first comment and smitten with the follow-up.  The commentariat seemed to like it as well.  Then, I looked at Raysism’s “inside softball” reply and cobra’s comment on this blog and realized I’d done it again.  I’d made a Deadspin-only, insiderbaseball type comment.

What I do in these types of situations is DM the comment ninja.  I figure it’s always better to stay ahead of trouble.  The ninja was kind – the person or persons behind the account is generally fair if you just ask - but did say that, although the comment was exclusive by its nature, it played okay on its own and thus would stay up.  Not surprisingly, the ninja also provided me with some light admonishment that I clean up my act and some encouraging words about my commenting.

I’d like to use this situation to think a bit about humor.  Prior to MBA, this site, and Streetcheese, I’d never considered analyzing humor before*, so my apologies if this sounds like a poorly constructed rip job.

I believe that a portion (though not all, certainly) of humor is exclusive by nature.  Any type of humor based on shared experience will necessarily exclude those people that didn’t share in the experience.  For example, the laziest “quasi-acceptable” Deadspin comment has been the movie/TV show reference.  Many of us got our start like that.  Say what you want about the guy, but Bill Simmons built a cottage industry predicated on this style of humor.  But if you didn’t see the movie or TV show? It doesn’t work at all, which is why Bill doesn’t play nearly as well to the under-20 crowd.  Basically, you have no point of reference, Donny.

Scientists have hypothesized that the primary function of humor is to bridge connections with other humans, a human version of sniffing each other’s asses.  As such, I’d venture to say this style of humor works because it is exclusive.  Part of “getting the joke” is feeling important/ clever/serendipitous enough to have been a part of the original experience that generated the joke in the first place.  It’s satisfying and rewarding to “get” a joke like this.

My philosophy in Deadspin commenting has always been (though I didn’t realize it until Sean Newell articulated it on MBA) “desperately seeking the +1.”  For whatever reason, the approval of some random-ass folks on the internet is really fucking important to me.  I have no clue why this is.  
The original Commentariat Manifesto states simply “do not be unfunny.”  As such, I know I consciously attempted to tailor my humor to those starred folks who would approve and, ultimately, star me.  Those were the people I was trying to emulate.  That was the crowd I was trying to join.  I wanted to “get” the jokes that everyone else was “getting.” (WTF is “Run you stupid fucking dinosaur, run!”?) At the time, I didn’t realize how ingrained this humor customization would become.

The game, though, has changed a bit in recent months as Gawker has sought to be more inclusive of commenters and eliminate insider-y meme threads.  Garnering +1s from the commentariat doesn’t cut it anymore.  The comment ninja has been clear as a bell on this and it’s me that hasn’t adapted.  I’m also not making a value judgment on this shift in commenting policy.  It’s their site, and commenting there is a privilege.  One that I’m glad I have and enjoy doing.

The Knoblauch twofer was an interesting experience, for me anyhow, because when I made the second comment I didn’t think twice about it being exclusive. My naiveté was that “of course everyone saw the first comment.”   After I posted the comment and DMed with the ninja, my only thought was, “How stupid can I be?” So, clearly, I need to not make comments like that.

Thus, here’s what I was thinking: with this site and with twitter, the commenters currently possess enough infrastructure to help morans like me out.  Seriously, I’d prefer not to get banned because I’m idiot.  If I’m going to get banned, I’d like it to be because I made some amazing comment that can never be replicated ever again and I will be enshrined in the DSHOF.

In some sense, this already exists. Many said on Twitter that I shouldn’t have called out the “amazing awanus” guy in the comment section.  I should’ve listened.  I will now.

* Except for, in High School, the guy in the seat next to me was failing English class.  On one test, I’d scored in the 80’s on one test and he had scored below 10.  Then, he said to me, “Getting a 0 on a test isn’t funny, but getting 3? Now that’s funny.” I will never forget that.



  1. Link to the original call out?

    1. /fixed.

      Try punch for the second one.

    2. I think he meant this call out.

      If you can't see pink comments, imagine RMJ=H's moved comment having been said about 6 times by a pink commenter earlier.

  2. RMJ=H

    Yeah, but I don't think you got starred or whatever by carefully pandering to the specific audience of that (or any) time, you became a prominent comment dude by being a smart, original slightly offbeat guy with this distinctive voice that was funny regardless of the specific joke being made.

    Also, as someone who has written to and received messages from the ninjas, I'm always a little weirded out at how, one on one, they are thoughtful and almost aggressively polite. I'm surprised by that every time.

  3. If it makes you feel better, or less alone, here is a heavily-edited and long excerpt letter that I sent to IMG a while ago (which was pulled off the presses for reasons of being even more dated than yours). I wrote it shortly after my Nth talking-to from c_n for being too meta:


    Like many of the people drawn to the Deadspin comments section, I am a huge fan -- and avid practitioner -- of dark comedy. Growing up, I was always the one to say what others would not say for a laugh, and to take a joke just one notch into the area where humor and bad taste mingle. I laugh hardest at the jokes that gently touch the taboo, that come dangerously close to breaking the rules. And even to this day, I am regularly instructed by the wife to leave Raysism at home, and to laugh at my fellow party-goer’s recap of last evening’s Two and a Half Men.

    And, boy, does that show sound funny! (See, I’m a good husband, if nothing else.)

    Deadspin, while the inevitable home for people like myself, presents an unusual quandary: how do you successfully pull off a dark joke in a world where nothing is taboo? How do you break the rules when there are no rules?

    Well, there are some rules.

    Don’t reply sarcastically to horrible comments.

    Don’t make fun of the pink commenters.

    And don’t ever, ever talk about commenting.

    Like most of the mores and societal norms in the real world, these rules collectively make Deadspin a better place. We don’t want this to be a boys’ club, where Same Sad Echo and Eddie Murray Sparkles trade inside jokes across the comment section, which would certainly only confuse and alienate your average reader. The rules are good, and should be obeyed.

    But they’re still rules. And I can’t apologize for laughing every time one of us just ever so gently breaks one. When Phintastic replied to a naked YouTube clip saying, “Hey, I saw that too!”, it made me laugh. Because I know he’s not supposed to do that. When RMJ=H imitated the pink commenter who didn’t realize he had posted the same inane comment four times, I was crying. None of this is funny in the abstract, of course. It’s just funny because I know it’s pissing someone off, and I’ve spent 38 years finding that funny.

    Of course, as in the real world, the unsubtle and inartful breaking of a rule is not funny. Just as Michael Richards wasn’t funny when he started spewing the F word in a comedy club, it wouldn’t be funny to needlessly berate a bad grey comment, or start talking to another commenter across daytime comments. It’s like a child touching a lighted candle on a dare: putting your hand on it for ten seconds is dumb, but just touching for an instant is a rush.

    The reality is that I don’t have the luxury of touching that candle anymore. It’s unfortunate, but I understand the reason. But I will always miss that rush.

  4. MKMitUB: Now with comments that help put you sleep while you read it!