There's More to Comedy Games than Just Comic Relief Characters

There's More to Comedy Games than Just Comic Relief Characters

Comedies are easy to identify. Even if they're not inherently funny there'll be some obvious absurdity or exaggeration about them.

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You may be able to live off a knob gag that long, with boobs too I guess, but not all comedy connoisseurs can sustain themselves with schoolboy humour, even in the ironic sense. I blame the inbetweeners for perpetuating this.
*Sigh* Personally, I don't mind a lighthearted tone even if it's just an added tint; not every piece of entertainment needs to be comedic through to the bone such as many a darkened comedy, but that turret arc does sound like a marked improvement. And the 70s theme came across as more romanticised than mocked, though that is merely my perception from it.
Hmm, Psychonauts is out on the recent PSN store I noticed, haven't played it since the first bright-eyed, casual, non-sober period. Perhaps it is wise to return to savour the depth previously numbed, as that particular scene evades my memory. Along with potentially much much more.

Wonder if anybody is going to get snarky about spoilers here though. Are we past that yet?

Hmm. Really, it seems like your criticism of failed humor in games boils almost entirely down to "it wasn't funny enough", which may be accurate but isn't particularly constructive.

I know you don't like your name, Yahtzee, but you could've changed it into something cooler than "Rob Whitaker".

Pyrian:
Hmm. Really, it seems like your criticism of failed humor in games boils almost entirely down to "it wasn't funny enough", which may be accurate but isn't particularly constructive.

Comedy is notoriously hard to critique because structure is so subjective, but he did identify the main problems with their humor - no set up, no pay off.

Also Psychonauts was 10 years ago, so why do we keep assuming Schafer and friends "still got it"? Remember, 10 years is as much time that passed between Warren Spector making Deus Ex and Epic Mickey, so you can indeed go from competent to incompetent dev in that amount of time.

I read that last line and started thinking, "Wait, is 'Zero Punctuation' supposed to have some kind of vague sexual connotation?"

Xsjadoblayde:
Hmm, Psychonauts is out on the recent PSN store I noticed, haven't played it since the first bright-eyed, casual, non-sober period. Perhaps it is wise to return to savour the depth previously numbed, as that particular scene evades my memory. Along with potentially much much more.

It's one of those incidental Tim Schafer things you really have to go out of your way to examine. In fact, you need to sneak up on the cheerleading couple in order to hear their dialog; otherwise, they'll accuse you of listening in and clamp up.

Actually, it didn't make the least bit of sense the first time I heard it. I kept thinking, are they in cahoots with the villain? Are they juggling that bottle of poison because they're plotting to kill everyone?

It is my experience that most so-called comedy games have one major failing: confusing funny ideas for actual jokes. The thing about humor is that there is an inherent amount of novelty to it. You can't just tell one joke and then expect that joke to keep your content funny for an extended period of time. Yet that is exactly what games like Hail to the Chimp and Elf Bowling do. The comedy is all in the idea, and within a few minutes you've become desensitized to that idea and there's nothing left but the gameplay itself.

When I think about good comedy games, I think of games like Portal, Sam & Max Save the World, and Banjo Kazooie. Not a one of these games emphasized the humor of the concept itself, but rather took their concepts for granted and injected humor in the moment-to-moment content: the dialogue, the plot points, etc. But when I think of these games, the first thing I think of isn't the comedy. Portal is an experimental first-person puzzle game. Sam & Max Save the World is an adventure game that revitalized a dying genre and took strides to really codify episodic gaming. Banjo Kazooie is a collect-a-thon 3D platformer.

That's important. All of these games would have been good even without the comedy. The same cannot be said of most games that put comedy first, which is rather ironic considering those games also tend to be worse at comedy.

P.S. Thanks

Sunset Overdrive is fucking hilarious.

GrumbleGrump:
I know you don't like your name, Yahtzee, but you could've changed it into something cooler than "Rob Whitaker".

Don't blame Yahtzee. Blame me.

*Kicks the stupid system again*

ffronw:

GrumbleGrump:
I know you don't like your name, Yahtzee, but you could've changed it into something cooler than "Rob Whitaker".

Don't blame Yahtzee. Blame me.

*Kicks the stupid system again*

AH, I was wondering about that too. I thought, "Wait, they took this column away from Yahtzee?"

A couple of my friends thought Leslie Nielsen was the funniest shit ever, and others I know swear to Will Ferrell, both whom I can't stand. Me? I guffaw when I hear jokes about prejudice, stereotypes and self-deprication, because I'm sort of a bigot (relative to the time I live in) and I love honest humor (Jim Jeffries, Bill Burr) in a "it's funny 'cause it's true" kind of way.
Maybe because they're a little fucked up and it's not only relatable, but so fundamentally human.

This is partly why I think racism, sexism and all around bigotry is so important in games, not not necessarily as humor mind you, but as a way to make worlds more believable. Yeah I can totally imagine those Dunmer refugees being filthy, backstabbing bast.. Oh, nevermind, all races are innocent in Skyrim, except for male Nords who are all bigots and all nord women are strong capable individuals who own their own shops and smithys, besides holding some of the highest positions in power.
This is something Bethesda keeps doing, upholding some sort of political correctness. Yeah, the opposite is a long standing trope, but for good reasons.

Anyway, enough politics and back to the humor;
What makes a funny game? I'm my opinion, something that doesn't take itself too seriously, is generally subtle and weaves it into another genre or theme.
As much as I rip on Bethesda, they did some memorable funny things, like the "boots of blinding speed" which literally made you blind and very fast while wearing them, or the "flying" item (boots again, I think) which made you jump extremely high, but killed you upon landing (found next to a corpse in the middle of nowhere).
Fallout was funny in dialogue, as an occasional contrast to a pretty glum world with moody music and tough themes of slavery, murder and rough survival.
No one Lives Forever was a parody (ala Austin Powers) with corny villains, henchmen and NPC's, with high stakes. It's been a very long time since I played the two games, but as far as I remember, they were decently funny.
Monkey Island and other SCUMM games also had some great, really funny moments and one liners that you could reference with friends (to death).

Man, all of those are old games... Without being too nostalgic, things were better before movies, cartoons and games just had to appeal to the lowest common denominator and everything had to be so "correct". I mean something like Dirty Grandpa, which crosses a few lines still isn't particularly funny, even in those moments. Robert De Niro doing kareoke and saying the N word a bunch of times for example, is just... so forced. The fact that he had to ask permission ruins it I think.
Do teenagers/twenty-somethings today think the shock value of that is a funny moment? Like he's a "demented old man" who doesn't know any better and that's why it's funny?

*sigh* I feel old now.

Apart from what Yahtzee wrote, aren't there some references to 70's sci-fi movies or something like that, besides the general art style? Like Planet of The Apes, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Soylent Green or I dunno... Logan's Run?
It's not exactly the highest form of humor to reference period-specific things, but it seems obvious to me.

Smilomaniac:
-snip-

Out of curiosity, what's your take on Mel Brooks films?

Anyways, I'm not sure if this will add anything to the discussion but, the funniest moments I've had in gaming, thus far, is seeing the characters ricocheting around the screen in Smash Bros. Melee (doesn't really matter if it's my own or my opponents). In fact, that's part of the reason why Big Blue and Hyrule Temple are a couple of my favorite stages.

Thanatos2k:

Pyrian:
Hmm. Really, it seems like your criticism of failed humor in games boils almost entirely down to "it wasn't funny enough", which may be accurate but isn't particularly constructive.

...he did identify the main problems with their humor - no set up, no pay off.

I invoke Poe's law. Was that a joke? 'Cause I laughed.

Transdude1996:

Smilomaniac:
-snip-

Out of curiosity, what's your take on Mel Brooks films?

I only remember men in tights and spaceballs. I used to think both were hilarious, but not since I was around 20. I don't find them cringeworthy or anything, it's like Douglas Adams - you just don't get nearly as much out of the second go around.

Did you bring up Suicide Squad specifically to troll its die-hard "I'm going to petition the White House to shut down Rotten Tomatos" fans, or was it honestly the only example you could think of?

I'm not bothered, in fact I tip my hat to you if the former, I'm just curious.

Pyrian:

Thanatos2k:

Pyrian:
Hmm. Really, it seems like your criticism of failed humor in games boils almost entirely down to "it wasn't funny enough", which may be accurate but isn't particularly constructive.

...he did identify the main problems with their humor - no set up, no pay off.

I invoke Poe's law. Was that a joke? 'Cause I laughed.

Not sure what to tell you.

Yahtzee, you callipygean superman, is this your way of telling us about the 9th ZP anniversary? Many happy returns ^_^

 

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