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Geek humor: Nothing to be ashamed of

Erin O'Kane

Issue date: 4/5/07 Section: Features
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Media Credit: Erin 'Kane

Geek humor is kind of like pornography in the way that - even though it isn't explicit by any means - if you don't hide it, you're still going to have to explain it. There have always been some jokes that can only be told in certain situations, but Geek jokes seem to be even more limited: they can only be told around certain people.

Over a pizza dinner last week, one of my friends cracked a joke that would have made other people stare at him as if he had just spoken in tongues, but it made us crack up.

"You know," I said. "If you had said that around anyone else, they wouldn't have gotten it at all."

"I know," he replied with a smile. "That's why I've been saving it up for you guys."
I have considered the fact that Geek humor has a selective audience, but it never occurred to me that we as a sub-culture might be so deeply entrenched in our humor that the punch lines are essentially inaccessible to anyone outside the Geek world, or even on the fringes of it really.

We crack jokes about online games and Internet lingo. We make fun of the latest news in the Geek world ("I hate Jack Thompson" T-shirts have just gone on sale, in fact), and sometimes we say things so Geek genre-specific, that if you haven't played a certain game or read a certain comic strip regularly, you would miss it entirely.

For example, there is an online comic strip, Xkcd.com, which occasionally references the artist's fear of raptors, so once in a while one of my friends will crack a joke about the imminent threat of a raptor attack. Other people might laugh without understanding where the comment came from, but my friends would be laughing the hardest.

A Geek could declare he's going to go inside for a soda, then trip on the stairs on the way in. Another Geek friend might laugh and say "Ha ha, he just rolled a one." Didn't get that, did you? Not if you haven't played Dungeons and Dragons. In D&D;, for every major action you take such as attacking something, you have to roll a 20-sided die, and that determines how well you did that action. Twenty is perfect. One is complete and utter failure. So to say someone has rolled a one is to say they have just failed completely.

Some jokes are easier to get. They are generally the jokes that mimic famous lines from movies or popular video games. One Geek could try to throw something to another, and the item falls short. The Geek having the item thrown to him might say "Come on Luke, use the force harder here." Most people would understand that reference as being from Star Wars, or at least I would hope they would, considering the millions of dollars that film grossed. But some Geek jokes are so beyond the range of general accessibility as to be lost to all but a handful of elite Geeks.
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Tacticus

posted 5/05/07 @ 10:57 PM EST

But how many people can read hex?

(please note this is just another example of geek humour)

(2 replies)   Details   Reply to this comment

i208khonsu

posted 9/25/07 @ 2:55 PM EST

The decoder I used read "ten" when it should have read "10".

Joe

posted 10/06/07 @ 4:37 AM EST

Yup, definitely should have been 10 instead of ten.

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