Geeks have their own brand of esoteric humour. Their jokes revolve around comic books, sci-fi movies, videogames and make semi-obscure references to complicated mathematical equations, Venn diagrams, computer hardware and scientific terminology. The average self-effacing and trivia-obsessed geek derives LOLs by poking fun at noobs (newbies who are considered inferior because of their lack of understanding about how tech works) and cracking inside jokes about Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Matrix. With humour that encompasses one-liners, web comics, memes and that odd to funny images with spello-ridden captions, tech comedy has enough to tickle the digital funny bone of bored techies at work.
If lines like ‘Raspberries are sweet, blueberries are fitting but blackberries are addictive,’ and ‘In a world without fences and walls, who needs Gates and Windows?’ had you grinning, you’re probably semi-geek cause they are some of the most popular geek one-liners being passed around on the web. You qualify to be a prime geek if haikus on system errors, conversations between clueless computer users and tech support and autocorrect gaffes cause you to guffaw.
It is true that most of these jargon-loaded jokes are often incomprehensible to people outside the tech community.
“Geeky humour does involve a little amount of figuring out, so it is easier for techies to get them,” says Tejas Shyam, an engineering student at IIT-B and regular reader of tech comedy sites. His favourites are sites like techtales.com, techcomedy.com and rinkworks.com/stupid that archive computer stupidities, technology mishaps and email blunders.
Like the time when a technician trying to help a customer asked, “To the bottom left hand side of the screen, can you see the ‘OK’ button displayed?” After which, the confused customer replied, “Wow. How can you see my screen from there?”
But not all of this humour stays confined to tech circles. Some jokes acquire cult status after being passed around by millions, making them memes.
Memes and image boards
Before a funny image or odd news story emerged on your Facebook or Twitter feed or became a meme, it was probably discovered on sites like 9gag, 4chan and Reddit, the pages geeks visit to post things that amuse them.
Mumbai-based Keyur Barad visits 9gag—a website that allows you to post funny images and vote for your favourites—almost every day. The site hosts a huge base of images and comic strips that acquire glory and a meme status as they get passed on overtime.
“There’s Derp and Derpina, a funny strip that highlights a boy-girl relationship and ‘Forever Alone’ a comic on how a guy has his hopes raised to be with someone only to go back to being forever alone again,” says Barad, CEO of Gecko Worldwide, a marketing agency.
Barad’s other favourite is the ‘Y U NO…’ guy who asks an angsty question every day. Like, ‘I TXT U… Y U NO TXT BACK?” and ‘WISDOM TEETH… Y U NO MAKE ME SMARTER?’
“Everyone can relate to these characters because their story lines cut across boundaries bringing basic human emotions and situations to the surface. Besides, their facial expressions are apt for every situation, making them even funnier.”
The anonymous nature of image-board sites like 4chan make them geek haven, ensuring they become a natural breeding ground for memes.
“Geeks are a small community. They are universal in their choice of humour,” says Vineet Pandey, a researcher.
“And because you can be anonymous, all kinds of humour including racist jokes or jokes that openly insult popular celebrities are circulated on these sites,” adds Pandey who gets his quota of geek humour reading webcomics.
“Geeks, nerds and dorks enjoy reading comics because they aren’t really social. They take refuge in reading comics to create a fantasy world of their own and web comics are just an extension of this interest,” says Pandey, a web comic fan.
His favourite is Dinosaur Comics, a 6-panel comic strip whose artwork stays the same with only the text in the voice bubbles changing every edition.
“We enjoy reading things that make us flex our mental muscles to understand it. Anything that is not mentally stimulating is not challenging,” says Pandey who points out that the comic could also interesting if it talks about topics of geek interest like science, physics or math.
In fact, some of the most popular web comics are being created by computer programmers, techies and scientists.
Most notable among these is former NASA roboticist and programmer Randall Patrick Munroe’s xkcd, a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language. Using mainly stick figures and without any recurring storyline, the comic is famous for its clever use of jargon in creating jokes. Then there is Chinese roboticist Jorge Cham’s PhD Comics, which focuses on the humor surrounding the life of a graduate school student. A good portion of the strip’s lifetime has been dedicated towards highlighting the difficulties of scientific research, the perils of procrastination, the complex student–supervisor relationship and the endless search for free food.
A LOL for every theme
- If you’ve laughed at the funny and out-of-place Facebook status posted by your mom and the embarrassing message your dad wrote on your wall, then (http://myparentsjoinedfacebook.com) will serve up similar Facebook activity that’ll humour you.
- www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com, a site that allows users to post family photos that didn’t turn out right. Funny family portraits of families in forced poses with bad hair and wearing matching outfits.
- http://www.smartphowned.com an archive of really funny phone SMS exchanges.
- Another favourite find is http://dontevenreply.com, a database of one man’s emails to classified advertisements.
- One of the oldest humour-for-techies sites is www.Failblog.org, an archive of pictures depicting unsuccessful events or people falling short of expectations with FAIL superimposed on them.
Warning: Some of the comics on the sites mentioned above contain explicit content.