Things I like a lot:
- All of Janelle Shane’s work with neural networks (paint colors, D&D spells, beer varieties - if you read about it and it was a funny NN thing it’s probably her)
- Rick and Morty S02E04 - Total Rickall - in which they introduce a ton of absurd characters. Also S01E08 - Rixty Minutes, in which they watch a ton of interdimensional TV shows
- my own nonsense
- oh including Swot Perderder of course
- weird twitter (my carefully curated list so far)
- RoboRosewater, a twitter bot that makes magic cards
- drilmagic, aka weird twitter meets magic cards
- a handful of new-to-me subreddits including r/hmmm, r/bonehurtingjuice, r/surrealmemes
- Ken M
- The second funny number. Three is the first funny number - jokes always come in lists of three, where #3 is the punchline. Four is too many; the rhythm’s off. But if you keep on going past four, five, eventually you get to either 8 or 10 and then it’s funny again.
Some characteristics that I like:
- the sense that you’re inhabiting a vast world that we’re just seeing the corner of.
- humility. Whenever anything/anyone reveals that they think they’re funny, they stop being funny.
- relatedly, willingness to throw away anything because you’re not so tied to your One Great Creation
- intuition. Jokes that go on to the second funny number are funny because they’re not scripted. You’ve got your #1-3 scripted, maybe your 4 and 5 are semi-canned, but by the time you get to 8 or 10 you’re spitting out really raw, mostly-unfiltered ideas.
- some kind of cultivated randomness. And this is always hard because often “randomness” means a really artless, naive form of humor that computer science major freshmen seem to find appealing? And as the comic illustrates, real randomness would be nonsense. I guess what I’m looking for is more like the deep dream puppyslugs (warning: creepy); starting with noise, amplifying human feature recognizers until you get to something coherent enough.
So I want to call this something. Something like “generative surreal” or “generative intuitive.” I don’t think I can actually define it, scope out its borders, decide all the edge cases, well enough to give it a name. But if I could give it a name, I could start shooting for it, and this is the kind of humor I would like to make.
- I may have mentioned at some point something about The Cleaners. They are the best example I can think of of the “sense that you’re inhabiting a vast world”: the one character mentions them as if of course you know who The Cleaners are, they come through and the characters narrowly escape, and we never hear anything about them again.
- Twin Peaks does this well (e.g. the Room Above the Convenience Store; warning: also creepy)
- HP Lovecraft seems like the “sense you’re inhabiting a vast world” but for horror. (obligatory disclaimer that also he was hella racist and that’s not cool?)
- I guess of course the surrealists in art come close to this, which is why I’m ok with using that term. I guess if I talked to Dali or Magritte and they were like “I’ve got this great meaning that I was trying to express by the ghost of Vermeer which can be used as a table or the train in the fireplace” I’d say “nah.” If they were unable to explain their stuff, I’d be into it more.
- Also relevant art world: The Garden of Earthly Delights.
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