Nothing is funny anymore. Every joke has been made. Every witty remark has been said. A guy getting poked in the eye doesn’t quite get the same laugh it used to. Anything that was once funny has been done too many times to entertain anymore. Usually this kind of progression takes a long time because only a select few really funny people are making these jokes, but even their jokes get stale eventually. This same process has happened with internet humor, except exponentially faster because everyone (mostly unfunny middle schoolers) are making the jokes, and all of it is being consumed at a much faster rate than ever before. Maybe a ‘Scumbag Steve’ meme was funny the first time you saw it, but within months of its inception, just the sight of the bold white text on the image was enough to make you cringe and roll your eyes.There are a lot of jokes being made on the internet, almost all of them about the same few things, but there are a few pages out there run by a few creative people who have found new ways to make us laugh. They have found a way to tap into parts of our brains we didn’t know existed. These people know how to make use of their medium, which in this case, are Facebook pages. Two exceptional example of this include “Smiling worker holding tomato in grocery store” and “Why helo it is I jimbles notronbo.”
“Smiling worker holding tomatoes in grocery store” is, for lack of a better term, a standout humor page on Facebook in a sea of humor pages run by 13 year old boys who just discovered what a meme is. The title of the page is in reference to the page’s profile picture, a stock photo of smiling worker holding tomatoes in a grocery store. The page is tomato-humor-centric, but through its thin red skin is a juicy core yielding some of the most progressive and interesting humor in recent memory. The page makes interesting use of stock images, be it captioning the images in self-referential manner, or consolidating several stock images into 2-4 panel stock photo comics. Stock photos are a strange, patently 21st century concept. Essentially, they are a single person’s visual interpretation of some human experience that they have made accessible in a digital reservoir of the human experience. Testaments to modernity, stock photos have a mission statement; ensure that there is a standardized visual representation of every mundane experience, accessible by a Google search. Whether it be an old man attempting to be hip, a child’s 8th birthday celebration, or a smiling worker holding a tomato in a grocery store, there’s a low resolution photo of it bound to a region of the vast visual universe of the internet by its attention demanding watermark. Stock photos have a curiously distinct, kitschy style as a result of being a singular persons interpretation of some mundane aspect of human life. In this way, the “Smiling worker holding tomatoes in a grocery store” acts as a conceptual ‘stock photo’ of the modern state of humor, and more specifically, internet humor.
Stock photos are used on this page as a symbol of standardization, a commentary of the standardization of internet humor, a comedic movement that was rooted in making the mundane interesting. The methods of making the mundane interesting - whether it be memes or parody - have been so overdone so quickly by so many un-funny people due to the accessibility of making and sharing content on the internet, that they themselves have become mundane and uninteresting. “Smiling worker” makes the uninteresting standardization of the humorous treatment of uninteresting things, interesting and funny. The standardization of internet humor has made humor shared through the internet and social media, in a way, a stock photo of itself, a standardized representation of a varied human experience. This is why “Smiling worker” uses stock photos as the material for crafting its content, which itself comments on the current, standardized state of humor in the digital age. An example of this is the CSI 4 pane comic meme, which Knowyourmeme.com describes as “a series of exploitable comics centered around Lt. Horatio Caine (played by David Caruso), the protagonist character in the popular police procedural show Crime Scene Investigation: Miami. The comics typically begin with Lt. Caine describing a particular situation before putting on or removing his sunglasses, followed by a one-liner uttered in a dramatic manner.” Essentially, the comics are parodies, and the nature of parody is to acknowledge and comically exaggerate clichés of a medium, genre, or specific text. However, these parody comics have become so overdone and the jokes so overused, that they themselves have become cliché and subject to parody. This “Smiling worker” comic is doing just that; it’s not only a parody of a specific parody, but a parody of parody itself. It is a comment on how excessive access to media and internet humor has reshaped our concept of “funny” and made us lose touch with the ability to determine what is funny and why its funny, to the point where all we can do is laugh without knowing why we’re laughing. This, in itself, is funny. “Smiling worker holding tomatoes in grocery store” makes us question whether knowing why something is funny is what makes it funny, or if laughter is the only thing that is required to constitute something as “funny”.
“Why helo it is i jimbles notronbo” is a Facebook page that isn’t as easy to describe. Essentially, it is a humor page that makes use of repurposed images of Jimmy Neutron and other characters in the Nickelodeon animated series Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius. Although the characters from the show are the main characters in the page and many references are made to the show, the page really has next to nothing to do with Jimmy Neutron. The creator of this page has repurposed Jimmy Neutron into a character that is prone to bursts of violence, drug use, and child abuse, all told in cryptic captions tagged to screenshots of the show. Where “Smiling worker holding tomato in grocery store” draws from the world of humor to develop its own sense of humor, “Jimbles” draws from a universe uniquely its own, developing a sense of humor with no point of reference. To do this, “Jimbles” developed its own consistent and functional dialect with rules that are strictly followed. For this reason, it takes some time and close reading to understand exactly what is being said, sort of like reading A Clockwork Orange, though arguably more complex. The process isn’t arduous, it’s absurd, surreal, endlessly entertaining and comical. Newcomers to Jimbles-speak and Jimbles-humor will laugh simply as a result of how little they understand; their laughter is a response to a confusion. However, it isn’t until Jimbles-speak is mastered that the comedic genius of the page is fully understood. Just as with any language or dialect, Jimbles-speak allows for a communication of a type of humor that is otherwise impossible to translate. Jimbles-speak is a language specifically crafted to interpret the complexities of the social internet.
The significance of “Jimbles” is that its success demonstrates that, in the arid humorless desert that is the modern landscape of internet humor, the only place left to draw humor from is, well, nowhere. “Smiling worker” demonstrates the entire reservoir of human experience has been dried off and rung out of any last drops of funny, but there are endless jokes to be made if you look to places that you create on your own. The genius of “Jimbles” is that no one quite understands it yet, perhaps not even the creator, and with each new post, you discover a little more about the “Jimbles” universe. There isn’t a lot of room for the joke to get stale, but literally infinite room for it to grow and become funnier and produce content.
is a Pitchfork Historian, accomplished musician, and aspiring Internet celebrity. Girls love him,
boys want to be him, you’re just jealous because he’s famous. @kevinobrien_