Sunday, April 12, 2009

Modern Fortress

(For a more Big-n-Clear™ view, click that 'toon!)

This episode of Bizarro is brought to you by Corpse-Eating Zombies.

I got a couple of emails from readers who didn't understand this cartoon when it appeared in the papers last week. The rule of thumb is that for every letter you get, there are thousands more who agree but didn't bother to write.

Before you read further, I'd be interested to know how many blog readers were or are puzzled by this gag. I'm going to explain it in the following paragraphs, but I'm just curious how many needed this explanation. Your answer will help me to better serve the public.

One of the problems of writing humor for public consumption is that you don't always know how many will understand your joke. I arrived at this idea through a series of thoughts that eventually led here, so it seems obvious to me, but I can't objectively be certain how a person might perceive it at first glance who has not gone through the same steps as I did.

The steps:
A velvet rope is a barrier. (Albeit an incredibly impotent one)
A barrier is like a wall.
People attacking walls sometimes use a catapult.
What kind of catapult would be appropriate for a velvet wall?

I know it's a stretch, but I found it amusing when I got there and hope others did too.

Thanks for your help and thanks for visiting my blog. You are the twinkle in the eye of the leprechaun of my heart.


Oskar said...

I got it, and I liked it fine, but seriously dude, 9 secret symbols!?! I like this little game fine, but I don't want to waste my entire afternoon! Nine is just crazy, man. Also, I could only find eight, so now I'm gonna be all perturbed the entire evening...

Chriss Pagani said...

I got it right away. It's clever. :)

Of course, I did some gags several years ago involving the power of the velvet rope so perhaps I was predisposed to "getting" this one.

It doesn't really seem that hard. Perhaps a larger, more realistic rendering of the velvet rope would have clarified it: By drawing attention directly to the rope, the gag would pop out for readers. As it's drawn, the man in the hat is the first thing that catches my eye. You know, eyes wander to the thing that stands out and all? It's just a thought.

Marcello said...

I think I missed the punch because my eyes completely ignored the rope. You expect it to be there and they're not always velvet (especially outside). The bouncer is so big that your eyes are drawn to him instead. My initial ponderings were related to red carpets and wondering if the door was covered in velvet.

The comic's concept (velvet catapult) is very surreal (like many of yours). The drawing is visually very interesting and detailed- drawing me into the scene, so it's not a huge loss.

Anonymous said...

The cartoon's first sentence was enough to make me smile. The second made me smile wider. It was easy enough to understand, Mr. Piraro.

To me, the joke would have worked well enough even without the catapult. But hey, ur the Pro so who am I to question you.

ur Fan,
Dee Sh

Dean said...

Thanks for the explanation, I don't get bizarro in the paper here in Montana, but I didn't quite get it when I super-sized it. But I follow you logic.

Jodie said...

I'll go 1st. I didn't get it when I read in the newspaper. But I see your logic now. Still not too funny.

Anonymous said...

Got it right off... guess I read more of the newspapers than just the funnies :-)

Jhenelle said...

That rule scares me, that means thousands of other people are walking around thinking the same stupid things you get in one letter?

Anonymous said...

I actually think this is one of your better gags lately. Did not need an explanation.

Michael Tallon said...

I thought this cartoon was one of your funniest (for me) in a long time, and I didn't look at it the way you did.

It might be a stretch because there's no common knowledge about what catapults do other than their namesake (like breaking down walls). The best way to make everyone get it is to dumb it down and basically spell it out without being completely direct.

I personally like it when it's open to interpretation, when people laugh at the "wrong" parts of a joke because something connected in their head that made them giggle.

Karl said...

At first I thought a velvet battering ram would be funny. But the more I thought about it, the idea of an ineffective catapult to get over a psychological barrier like a velvet rope makes more sense (or nonsense; of the funny kind).

The only problem I have with your cartoons, Dan, is that sometimes I really have to think about them to get the punch line. That's not your fault, however, and when I get the meaning, the laughter follows.

HMack said...

I thought it was hilarious as soon as I saw it.
Maybe the readers who didn't get it weren't familiar enough with the velvet rope reference. Maybe they were busy looking at the big fella talking and didn't notice the rope or make the association. You can't draw it bigger or put arrows pointing at it. Okay, maybe if the door wasn't red, maybe if the only two things that were red were the catapult and the rope. That's all I've got.
It did make me laugh though, honest.
your pal in Indy

CrazyVeganMom said...

I mostly got it. Does that count?
I just wasn't sure why the catapult had to be velvet, but now it makes sense. I am blaming my slowness on the lateness of the day. (or technically, earliness as it is after midnight)

doug nicodemus said...

i got it but after thinking about it here...the battering ram makes more sense because the catapult would only get them to the head of the line..not IN

a battering ram would get them passed the bouncer and IN..
gets a ha

John Radke said...

I didn't get it, but even after the explanation, it was too much stretch for the payoff of the punchline, IMHO. The payoff wasn't worth the suspension of disbelief, I guess would be another way to put it. But I'm just one schmuck, and others clearly disagree with me.

For context, my most recent favorites were the doc's patient asking for a "third opinion", and I liked the older one you showed the other day with Atlas at the South Pole.

LaLaOrange said...

I didn't get it. The red door threw me off (I didn't know if the door was supposed to be velvet)and my eyes kept wandering to the giant bouncer; it seemd like maybe he was supposed to be part of the punch line.

Robert Gidley said...

I got it right off the bat, although I've never even seen a nightclub with a line outside, much less one with a velvet rope (the perils of living in quaint West Coast cities like Seattle).

And the velvet catapult made perfect sense--how else you gonna get past a barrier? (And yeah, I'd probably use a coral catapult to get past the Great Barrier Reef.)

Anonymous said...

Didn't notice the velvet rope. Didn't even know they were known as velvet ropes. Would have gotten the joke otherwise.

k pepper said...

I read it. I read it again. I was confused.

The joke itself is funny, that they needed a catapult to get past a barrier they essentially create for themselves is pretty great (I've worked in many retail and service positions, you see it all the time).

But the catapult being called velvet totally threw me off. After all, its not like you have a 30-foot-rock-wall catapult to storm a castle, right?

So, for me, the telling was confusing. And I'm not afraid to admit it.

melonhead said...

Do people really need to think so hard? I think a lot of comics succeed in that instant of intuitive understanding.
I must say, though, the leprechaun link is a mean trick to spring on an innocent reader. (shudder)

Cecilie Lolk Hjort said...

I needed it. I was way over in Velvet Underground concert and queer crowd looking for the joke. :D

Anonymous said...

I got it right away! Nice bit jab at the ridiculousness of clubs’ entrance barriers.