It seems like everybody got their feathers ruffled over the ``IP Address Shortage Spurs Black Market'' article in the last issue of Voo Doo. In addition to [deleted]'s head exploding, we received the following piece of email:
In my opinion, Voo Doo isn't funny these days. Voo Doo today is an example of comedians and humorists getting the wrong message about what's funny. Some popular comedians and humorists of the last twenty years have had funny material which they delivered with a particular obnoxious, in-your-face manner. The manner accentuated the humor inherent in the material, but the material itself was funny, even when isolated from the manner of delivery.
Many comedians and humorists today got the wrong message from this, and are taking material that is not funny by itself (some examples are profanity and anatomy), and delivering it in that same obnoxious, in-your-face manner. Audiences laugh at the material out of surprise, but they rarely actually enjoy the material. This is evident from noting which comedians and humorists people continue to retell jokes from afterwards.
Also, the editors of Voo Doo seem to have trouble keeping their emotions and personal views from killing potentially funny articles. One example is the ``IP Address Black Market'' article from the last issue. It was a potentially funny premise, but it was evident that the authors had strong personal feelings about the topic. They tried to cram too much text into the article to dispel their feelings, and the article came out as a flame, pretty much devoid of humor.
The editors of Voo Doo would do well to take more lessons from comedians like Monty Python, and fewer from ``comedians'' like Andrew Dice Clay. If there were more absurdity and less obnoxiousness in Voo Doo, I would enjoy it much more, and would be much more likely to think of Voo Doo when pointing Web surfers towards funny sites.
We get criticism like this letter pretty often, so we're used to it. Usually the letters come from Alumni, because Voo Doo has never been as funny as ``it was when I was in college.'' Normally, we fire off a suitably ridiculous letter, explaining that we haven't had time to come up with really funny stuff because we've busy building the pyramids, shaving cats, and keeping Richard Nixon's head frozen.
However, it's endemic. Every college humor magazine that we've ever talked to gets these letters, too (except the Stanford Chaparral, or so they would have us believe, those lying rat-bastards). It's not that people don't think that Voo Doo is funny, it's that some people just don't think anything's funny unless it's Dave Barry. Since this letter was particularly well written, we've decided to take the time to respond to it at length. Here's our response:
Thank you for your thoughtful comments. However, humor critique is the sport of the uncreative. Voo Doo may not be funny to anyone, but the only way to fight bad humor is with good humor. If you believe that your wit is mighty, then use it with pen instead of with sword. You are hereby cordially invited to submit to the next issue of Voo Doo Magazine.
That said, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that the editors of Voo Doo are some how engaged in throwing away the truly funny bits, and only printing the in-your-face bits about human anatomy. Not true.
In your letter, you state
The editors of Voo Doo seem to have trouble keeping their emotions and personal views from killing potentially funny articles.
Here you have confused the concepts of ``author'' and ``editor.'' The editors of Voo Doo see themselves much more as ``common carriers'' than ``masters of content.'' We're not so much ``editors'' as ``layouters'' and ``formatters.'' Back in the days of ``Voo Doo's Tool and Die,'' the editors used to pride themselves on never having rejected a submission. While we no longer meet that high standard, we are still limited to printing what we get. You continue,
One example is the ``IP Address Black Market'' article from the last issue... They tried to cram too much text into the article to dispel their feelings, and the article came out as a flame, pretty much devoid of humor.
A-ha! You have shown your hand. Now we finally see the true reason for your current distaste in Voo Doo. It seems that we have recently skewered a ``Sacred Cow'' of yours [the letter writer works for I/S ---ed.]. From this single point of offense, you have created an elaborate argument that encompasses all of Voo Doo. After all, you don't want to have to admit that you're a petty, thinskinned, mental dwarf. You want to have your distaste over this incident backed up by impeccable reason. So, in your offended psychosis, you invent some.
This reaction is so common that it's studied by anthropologists. We know we've done this when a person --- or a member of some group --- makes a point of publicly declaring that the magazine isn't funny. Sometimes this is followed by an in-depth discussion of why it isn't funny. More often, it's couched in thinly-veiled implications that we are somehow bad people, or poorly educated in the art of humor, for thinking that it is funny. With disturbing regularity, the Offended Party will invoke the contradictory ``Class Clown Admonition'' and inform us that although people find our antics amusing, they are not actually funny.
Back to your main point:
If there were more absurdity and less obnoxiousness in Voo Doo, I would enjoy it much more.
Fine. Voo Doo sucks, but Voo Doo sucks because you suck. Voo Doo's existence is the proof that M.I.T. likes this ``brand'' of humor. If M.I.T. liked a different kind of humor, then M.I.T. would write a different kind of humor. The entire M.I.T. community is invited to contribute original humor to the magazine. You are always welcome to ``improve'' Voo Doo by submitting an article, column, cartoon or joke of your own, and I will personally guarantee that it will get printed. After all, it can't be as bad as ``The Cybernetic Kid.''
However, I don't believe that you will ever contribute. Why? Because you are content passing on your rewarmed net.humor leftovers like the fat Internet Slug that you are. Your idea of the zenith of humor is rec.humor.funny and the Usenet Oracle. That's fine, but remember that just because you put ``HUMOR'' into the Subject: line as you pass along your little email chain letters doesn't mean that it's funny. Just because you have a Humor subdirectory in your Athena account doesn't make you a comedian, an expert, or a critic.
Feel free to prove us wrong. Have a nice life.