How to Ruin a Joke
Have you played the PC game Portal? Even if you haven't, I'm sure you're familiar with the game's humor, if only vicariously; at a certain point in time, the jokes from Portal were inescapable thanks to the thorough and devoted gang-raping they received from thousands of Internet humorists. Any normal person would have smiled or chuckled at the dark and genuinely funny jokes in Portal and moved on with their lives, but the Internet could only think "JOKES!? IN A VIDEO GAME!? THE WORLD MUST KNOW OF THIS!!!" And so, the phrases "the cake is a lie" and "companion cube" were spread across this digital land of giggles, making a few stops along the way to be exploited and profited from by kind folks who didn't necessarily own the intellectual property. All this so nerds could laugh at borrowed humor silkscreened on the back of their friends' XXXL t-shirts? Yes. All Internet humor is entirely reliant on you recognizing that thing you know, and nothing more.
As awful as the Portal fallout was, it marked one of the relatively few times the Internet latched onto some legitimately good jokes. Most of the time, the lowest hanging fruit from the humor tree is plucked, turned into sauce, and dumped in the mouths of eager idiots desperately searching for a wacky new identity. The worst of this is "random" humor, which involves picking unrelated words out of the dictionary, stringing them together, and then praying to god that this can sustain an entire career. For example, look at this fucking piece of shit. Now, Tim Buckley's Control-Alt-Delete is normally bland, wordy, and bursting with "NOW he tells me!" punchlines pulled right from the third season of Step By Step. And while that isn't something to get excited about, the fact that "Chef Brian" is a fan favorite character with his own line of merchandise proves how low the bar is set for humor on the Internet. When all a writer has to do is "GRAPEFRUIT GORILLAS BASKETBALL welp time to call it a day," he also tells his fans "Look how easy it is to be funny!"
Under no circumstances should anyone encourage the ordinary person to be funny, at least in the method of predictable unpredictability pioneered by Buckley and his ilk. Though I guess this learned behavior does explain the continued fandom of Invader Zim seven years after it's cancellation; the cartoon featured a robot dog that would shout things like "BURRITOS CHEESE DOOM," which is so zany I would probably wear out the "a" key on my keyboard if I were to type the appropriate extension of the word to match that of an adorable screaming robot. And even quality media that was genuinely surreal in what many would call a "non-faggy" way (I went to college) has become the chalk outline of legitimate humor's grisly murder scene. For example, any public screening of Don Hertzfeldt's Rejected has, in the eight years since the short was created, become a Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque feedback loop of anxious nerds poised to leap at the chance to tell you that status of their spoons just as the character on-screen is about to do the same thing. Because if you scream a joke as it's being told, it's like you're telling it yourself! I encourage you to try this in any comedy club and witness the sharp rise in your popularity and also bottles thrown at you by an enraged Patton Oswalt.
You see, most people understand that they aren't funny. Internet people, on the other hand, each believe they are the captain of the same chuckleboat; this perception often can be seen in their clothing, which denotes that unique and skewed sense of reality that could've only been reproduced in the hundreds of thousands by a factory in Indochina. I recently had the opportunity to attend a gathering of Internet people, half of which could be seen wearing clothing with a hilarious joke printed in large white text, so even the vision-impaired could get in on the fun. And while the sweaty, stained shells of these folks seemed to show their comedic aspirations, the subtext was more than apparent. Please observe my notes:
T-Shirt: You looked better on MySpace
Translation: I have masturbated to fully-clothed pictures of you.
T-Shirt: Ignoring you is my special way of saying I don't care
Translation: PAY ATTENTION TO ME
T-Shirt: My heart is cold like a robot
Translation: I am a doormat and will do anything you ask me to.
T-Shirt: One of us is a dumbass, and one of us is wearing this shirt.
Translation: Quick put on this shirt before you make me a liar!
T-Shirt: I'm sotally tober
Translation: What does beer taste like?
Internet, I'm on to you. Just because you spent a lifetime absorbing terrible media rather than developing a personality doesn't give you the right to suddenly scramble for an identity by operating as a hive mind one rung lower on the comedy ladder than Dave Coulier. Reach back into the depths of your closet, pull out those tattered and pitted-out "All Your Base" t-shirts, and try to remember who you are. If all else fails, then monkey cheese clowns. I got paid to write that.