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Author Topic: More subtle humor...  (Read 21110 times)
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LAN.gnome

Urban Legend
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« on: 05-12-2003 21:55 »

These are just two jokes, but I was re-watching some old Futurama episodes the other day and I noticed two things (One for sure, one just maybe).

Space Pilot 3000: After Fry and Bender hide out in the head museum, Bender knocks the Nixon head off the shelf and the jar breaks. After the head bites Bender and is pulled off, there is a scene where a few of the President heads in the background are watching what's going on. In this scene are two Grover Cleveland heads, separated by a another president's head. Since Grover Clevelend is the only president to serve 2 non-consecutive terms, I thought this was a nice, subtle history joke. It does raise a question though: where'd the other head come from? I suppose if they can raise 'em from the dead, they can clone 'em, too.

A Clone of My Own: When the crew is watching the hologram message the professor made before the Sunset Squad picked him up, there is a subtle reference to A New Hope. As the message ends, Farnsworth's actions are very much like Princess Leia's at the end of her hologram to Obi-Wan: they both look over their shoulders as if worried, then turn back, bend over and switch the holo-recorders off with their hands.

That last one is less certain; my VHS copy is too fuzzy to be sure if the actions of Prof. Farnsworth as are similar to Leia's as I imagine them to be.

Then Jeremy and LAN get stuck in a floating all-girls Catholic school and have to pretend to be gay janitors!
Nixorbo

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« Reply #1 on: 05-13-2003 01:02 »

Trust me, they are.  And it didn't seem all that subtle to me.  Anyone who has every seen Star Wars should have recognized that.
Britz

Starship Captain
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« Reply #2 on: 05-13-2003 02:23 »

Damn straight, it was a given.
LAN.gnome

Urban Legend
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« Reply #3 on: 05-13-2003 02:37 »
« Last Edit on: 05-13-2003 02:37 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by Nixorbo:
And it didn't seem all that subtle to me.

Fair enough. I suppose that the crummy quality of the VHS tapes I watch probably added to the mystique, making it seem more subtle than it actually was. If only I had copies as clean as my DVDs of season one! I don't understand why I have to wait until September for region 1 DVDs of season two, when season three is poised to be released in region 2! Arggh!

For future reference, how subtle is "subtle," anyway? This way I can avoid oversights of this nature.
JDHannan

Bending Unit
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« Reply #4 on: 05-13-2003 13:25 »

if you want subtle, i'm the guy to talk to.  I noticed the P and NP books in the closet.
Teral

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« Reply #5 on: 05-13-2003 14:34 »

"Subtle" are those jokes only accessible to 1% of the audience (David Cohen's definition, not mine).

As one of the writers said in one of the season 2 commentaries said: "To the one percent of our viewers who got/understood that joke: you stole two hours of my life."
Nixorbo

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« Reply #6 on: 05-13-2003 14:51 »

Well, I dunno Teral.  An important part of subtlety us how it's conveyed.  For instance, that "monolith out of order sign" on Europa I would characterize as subtle, due to the short abount of time dedicated to it, how it melded into the background, and the fact that I have still yet to actually see it.  It's a fine line, really.
Teral

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« Reply #7 on: 05-13-2003 15:17 »

I guess that's another way of looking at it. Much like the condensed milt in the closet scene mentioned above by JDHannan. Or Cloakwood Forest in "Mothers Day".

Then again, how many people did realise the reason Amy and Fry could visit Europa was because the monolith was out of order? Most people recognised the monolith from the movie/book, but probably on a percentage remembered the message about not attempting to land on Europa.

I guess the answer lies in some sort of hybrid of the two viewpoints.
Gocad

Space Pope
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« Reply #8 on: 05-13-2003 15:21 »
« Last Edit on: 05-13-2003 15:21 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by Teral:
Then again, how many people did realise the reason Amy and Fry could visit Europa was because the monolith was out of order? Most people recognised the monolith from the movie/book, but probably on a percentage remembered the message about not attempting to land on Europa.

I guess the answer lies in some sort of hybrid of the two viewpoints.

Whoops, point for Teral.
But then again, who knows that there is a book or film based on that book called 2010? Not to mention 2061 and 3001.
Well, I should have. Damn.
LAN.gnome

Urban Legend
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« Reply #9 on: 05-13-2003 17:58 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by Nixorbo:
An important part of subtlety us how it's conveyed.  For instance, that "monolith out of order sign" on Europa I would characterize as subtle, due to the short abount of time dedicated to it, how it melded into the background, and the fact that I have still yet to actually see it.  It's a fine line, really.

This sounds about right. Subtle should be something you miss the first time, maybe every time until someone points it out (like Bender's color change from feverish to regular in "Fry and the Slurm Factory;" even some of the main people on the show didn't notice it until it was pointed out).

Jokes that occur while you're otherwised occupied could maybe also count as subtle -- just less subtle. That whole "art of misdirection" thing that magicians and politicians use  smile

Like just the other night, in "A Head in the Polls," I noticed something for the first time when Bender (just his head, really) is in the car talking to Fry. When it cuts back to Bender from Fry (“Look me in the shins and say that”), his antenna rises just as he says "I've had it up to here..." Maybe not as subtle as the P/NP joke, but a fun discovery, for me anyway.

I wouldn't classify jokes that whizz by so fast that you can't hope to get them the first time, like freeze-frames jokes, as subtle though. Speed alone shouldn’t count. I don't know why, maybe becuase you don’t have to know anything special to get the joke, just a “pause” button on the remote. So freeze-frame jokes get a category one notch above subtle.

I think that there's another level, even more exclusive, below subtle, though -- the inside joke. The alien languages are almost inside jokes, except that people go to great lengths to decode and understand them. Inside jokes are one of the reasons I love the Futurama DVD commentaries -- that and listening to Farnsworth sing David Bowie.

Oh, ground control to Major Tom...
SQFreak

Professor
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« Reply #10 on: 05-13-2003 19:52 »

And if you feel like going into 2010, I can. I've actually discussed the monoliths-on-Jupiter issue with a college astronomy professor. Even if the monoliths on Jupiter were "out of order," Jupiter would have already had the sufficent mass to begin fusion, and fusion would not stop even if the monoliths weren't there. I've never read 2001 or 2010, and I've never seen 2001, but I've seen 2010. "My God, it's full of stars!"
"ALL THESE WORLD ARE YOURS - EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE. USE THEM TOGETHER USE THEM IN PEACE."
alltheseworldsalltheseworldsa lltheseworldsalltheseworlds.. .

I loved 2010. I was told not to see 2001, however, because it was incomprehensible, due to thirty minutes of monkeys jumping around at the beginning and major lack of dialog.
Nixorbo

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« Reply #11 on: 05-14-2003 00:26 »

Of course, then there's Obscure Humor, which is even more tricky to identify.  I'd label the P and NP books as obscure humor.

Of course, one of my favorites is Schrodinger's Kit Kat Lounge.  Subtle or obscure?
LAN.gnome

Urban Legend
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« Reply #12 on: 05-14-2003 00:58 »

YES! Thank you, Nixorbo. Obscure is the word I was grasping at in my mind while writing the post.

As for Schrodienger's: I'd classify it as obscure. I think the greater level of understanding necessary to truly appreciate such references makes it and others like it obscure rather than subtle. I get the joke, but only after muddling through a number of high-concept, jargon-riddled physics pages.
faz

Crustacean
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« Reply #13 on: 05-15-2003 14:12 »

if i miss something the first 12 times is it still a subtle joke or am i just dense?
LAN.gnome

Urban Legend
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« Reply #14 on: 05-15-2003 17:30 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by faz:
if i miss something the first 12 times is it still a subtle joke or am i just dense?

I think a lot of subtlety depends on whether you should have noticed those first 12 times.

For example, anyone who misses that "A Flight to Remember" is a parody of Titanic is painfully stupid. Someone who missed the Armageddon and Deep Impact references in "A Big Piece of Grabage" isn't paying very good attention, but I could imagine someone not noticing, especially if they haven't seen the movies enough.

Familiarity with the source material can make something subtle; if you're a die-hard trekkie like me, and you STILL find more little Trek references in "Where No Fan Has Gone Before," they could be considered subtle -- or just so packed in that I miss some while I'm laughing so hard, like when I watch MST3K.
MuscaDomestica

Professor
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« Reply #15 on: 05-15-2003 18:56 »

Or you can just learn a refrance that you never got before, in my American History post 1945 class I was always cracking up understanding a MST3k refrence.
Nixorbo

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« Reply #16 on: 05-25-2003 14:56 »

What about Strong Force Krazy Glue from 30% Iron Chef?  I just noticed that recently.
JDHannan

Bending Unit
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« Reply #17 on: 05-25-2003 17:52 »

strong force krazy glue?
i dont get it
i know krazy glue but...
Teral

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« Reply #18 on: 05-25-2003 17:57 »

Maybe it's a reference to the 4 elementantary forces of the universe recognised in our current theories: gravitation, electromagnetism, the strong and the weak force.

Considering the Grand Unified School District sign on the Vice-Presidential Action Rangers' schoolbus...
]PaulFSAC[

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« Reply #19 on: 05-25-2003 18:13 »

I love humour that's as >> Subtle As A Rabid Moose<<
Nixorbo

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« Reply #20 on: 05-26-2003 13:54 »

Whaddya mean maybe, Teral?  Of course it's a reference to the Strong Force, which I believe holds the nucleus of an atom together, and is the most powerful force known to man.
Teral

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« Reply #21 on: 05-26-2003 16:29 »

Yep, it's also the one of the 4 forces with the shortest range. Doesn't extend much beyond the nucleus.

beck

Bending Unit
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« Reply #22 on: 05-28-2003 08:37 »

JDHannan
 
Quote
if you want subtle, i'm the guy to talk to. I noticed the P and NP books in the closet.
Sorry to spoil your pride, JDHannan, but you were not the first one. Here's the quote from the episode capsule compiled by Jim Dyer and other guys, which was on internet (Google groups)since at least November 2001:

Adam Foster:
... in the supply cupboard, there are two binders/books/boxes labelled 'P' and 'NP' in the bottom left of the picture.  I think this is referring to P and NP problems.  There's a   third, similar-looking box -- but the label is conveniently blocked by Amy's arm.  Could this signify some kind of upcoming revolution in mathematics?  Interesting ... :-)
The Hypno Toad

Bending Unit
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« Reply #23 on: 05-28-2003 18:21 »

I also noticed how Benders antenae is some what of a Robot Genetelia

and it seems that only male robots have antenae....... and some dont......

well...... nevermind..... just a thought
LAN.gnome

Urban Legend
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« Reply #24 on: 05-28-2003 19:37 »
« Last Edit on: 05-28-2003 19:37 »

Hypno Toad: You'd think that with over 160 posts this far and numerous angry messages, you would've figured out that double-posting is bad. Don't do it. Don't you know how to use the edit button?
Squeezit

Bending Unit
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« Reply #25 on: 06-04-2003 19:13 »

and also that almost anything pointy that extends in any form of art can be construed to be phallic--and that really isn't an example of subtlety . . .

I know this is not subtle either--but I almost died at the episode last night at the sign up list for dumping bodies. That was fantastic.
BarneyBurnham

Bending Unit
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« Reply #26 on: 06-04-2003 19:20 »

Subtle humor is for geeks.  When's Married With Children on?
Jolly Mon

Bending Unit
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« Reply #27 on: 06-05-2003 01:03 »

 
Quote
I was told not to see 2001, however, because it was incomprehensible, due to thirty minutes of monkeys jumping around at the beginning and major lack of dialog*
I personally think that 2001 is one of the best sci-fi movies of all time.

When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend.' (U.S. Marine Corps.)
canned eggs

Space Pope
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« Reply #28 on: 06-27-2003 18:50 »

Meandering back to the Strong Force Krazy Glue, I think the joke is not just that the strong force is strong, but that the putative particles responsible for it are actually called "gluons" because they act... like... glue.

But on a completely unrelated tangent that might be meaningless to everyone who's not a semanticist or a logician, there really are a lot of jokes in Futurama revolving around presupposition failure.

In 1ACV01, Leela's boss says, "it's my job to make you do your job, whether I like it or not. Which I do! Very much!"

In 1ACV03, Bender says, "You know, Fry...Of all the friends I've had, you're the first."

In 2ACV03, one of the clones, I think Jack Johnson, says, "Now, I respect my opponent. I think he's a good man. But quite frankly, I agree with everything he just said."

And from 2ACV14:
Farnsworth: "No, it was silly of me to object. One foot tall, eight feet, fifteen feet. What does it matter?"
Mom: "You should see the new sixteen foot models."
Farnsworth: "Sixteen feet?! Go to hell! I was a fool to think you'd changed, you old bat!"

From 2ACV16:
Hermes: "We're jerked. Nothing can stop a monster that big!"
Farnsworth: "Nothing except an even equally big monster!"

From 2ACV18:
Robot1: "Some say unholy things happen up there!"
Robot2: "For example, all of us say that."

From 3ACV05:
Farnsworth: "Well, Fry ... Or should I say .. captain Fry? No I shouldn't! Because Bender is the new captain."

From 3ACV09:
Fry: "He's a weird monster who smells like he eats garbage, and does."

From 3ACV11:
Farnsworth: "Oh don't worry Fry. I too once spent a nightmarish time in a robot asylum, but now it's nearly over. So long!"

From 3ACV17:
Scruffy: "Boy, I've never seen him so down. Or ever before."

From 4ACV03:
Planet Express Ship: "Your accountants. Oh, I would dearly love to believe that were true. So I do! I'm gonna go home and get dinner started."

It's not really subtle humor of the type usually discussed here, but why is presupposition failure so funny? I think there are more examples that I can't think of.
Amorpheus

Delivery Boy
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« Reply #29 on: 06-27-2003 19:13 »

MST3K?
canned eggs

Space Pope
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« Reply #30 on: 06-27-2003 19:43 »

Mystery Science Theater 3000.  It's another show.
winna

Avatar Czar
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« Reply #31 on: 06-27-2003 23:07 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by *LAN.gnome*:
*I wouldn't classify jokes that whizz by so fast that you can't hope to get them the first time, like freeze-frames jokes, as subtle though.*
I'd have to disagree.  I think those freeze frame jokes can actually come together to make a larger subtlety.  Like a subtle heart with "HS+MB" in Hell is Other Robots (I know someone else pointed this out in another thread).  I remember an episode of Angry Beavers where there was a quick shot of a cameraman in a mirror that Norbert was opening.  Well it flashes by so fast that no one would notice, but it's some kind of weird subtle thing saying that the show is real...  which could be similar as to references of the Simpsons in Futurama showing Futurama as the "real"...

Also could someone explain the Schrodinger's Kit Kat Lounge joke, or would it take 37 pages on astophysics to point me in the right direction?
canned eggs

Space Pope
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« Reply #32 on: 06-27-2003 23:13 »
« Last Edit on: 06-27-2003 23:13 »

There's already some Schroedinger's cat discussion somewhere... give me a minute to find it...

 http://www.peelified.com/cgi-bin/Futurama/3-000279-1/

...it's down somewhere on this thread...

...which discussion contains this link:

 http://www.boulder.nist.gov/timefreq/ion/qucomp/cat.htm
[AdAM]

Bending Unit
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« Reply #33 on: 06-28-2003 05:27 »

 
Quote

Magic, got it!  wink
winna

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« Reply #34 on: 06-28-2003 09:53 »

I didn't get the pun at first...  Kit "Kat"......
Australian Guy

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #35 on: 06-28-2003 10:34 »

I thought benders
 
Quote
Originally posted by Bender:
Tubes! Your older than you said you were
Line was nice and subtle
the_dudefather

Delivery Boy
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« Reply #36 on: 06-28-2003 12:44 »

the subtle joke in the 'bender gets made' deleted scene, where at some point flexo took over benders life (benders 'erased' serial number is actualy flexo's). i wonder how many people would have fgured that out on their own?
Sil

Professor
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« Reply #37 on: 06-30-2003 07:01 »

Probably quite a few - cos there's always the small section of fans (and yes I am one of them) who will check the continuity.  I probably wouldn't have got it though; it's a clever joke.
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