Not gonna do a Week in Review this week, since there were relatively few favorites, and thus few Roundups. What I do wanna talk about is one of my favorite commenters at present: Same Sad Echo.
In my correspondence and researches with Shitehawk, who I assume is jowls-deep in American road-trip stories, our agent collateur has the following to say about the Profiles in Commenting series:
The Profiles in Commenting were really just a way to expand the discussion on joke-making … We chose to write them on individual commenters because, in keeping with the entire philosophy of MBA, people are more likely to read this stuff if you both make it about someone or something with which they're already familiar, and use it as a carrot for their own creative efforts. In other words, we manipulated our readership into engaging us in a conversation about joke mechanics by writing about our readership.
You see, the Profiles in Commenting, Shitehawk says, shouldn't be written for the sake of writing them. They take time, not only to sift through a particular commenter's oeuvre, but also to contextualize those comments as somehow exemplary of good joke-craft in a general way. This will be my first attempt at a commenter profile, and if it fails miserably, Miserable Shitehawk has promised a week with the cattle prod. God help me.
As with any compositional endeavor, finding where to begin is the toughest part. Echo is a regular commenter, so his corpus is quite large (he's also very, very fat). As you all by now have seen, I find #longform efforts quite commendable in Deadspin's comment section, for reasons I've stated before: they're fun, they flex creative muscles, and they're perhaps unexpected on a sports blog with a notorious reputation for provocative, prurient stories. But let me remind you, dear reader, that Your Curator also loves excellent one-liners. Milo Minderbinder and DougExeter practice two of the best pithy deliveries, and, to be sure, the next Profile in Commenting will address one of our more laconic contributors.
Shitehawk employs a number of analogies for humor-making, and in addition to the inflated/deflated balloon, one of my favorite images is that of the butcher, which I'll let Shitehawk explain in all his magisterial eloquence:
Earless and I spent some time talking about joke-making, and out of this conversation emerged an approach to jokes that essentially treats a punchline like a hunk of beef … The general idea is that there are two basic ways of cooking a hunk of beef: hot and fast, and low and slow.
Hot and fast cooking is for those very tender, very tasty cuts of meat that could be eaten raw … Minimal seasoning, minimal cook-time, just a quick application of high heat to give the outside a nice crunch and seal the juices.
Low and slow cooking is for tough, fibrous, somewhat less delicious parts of the cow … Low and slow is all about the untapped and deeply hidden potential of an otherwise forgettable hunk of meat.
Each post requires that you, the butcher/joke-maker, have the creativity and wisdom to see, within the content, avenues to humor, opportunities, potential. And each avenue, each angle, will require an application of language that falls somewhere between hot and fast and low and slow.
SSE can practice both preparations to hilarious effect, but for me, some of his more memorable comments deploy the low and slow method. I enjoy Echo's longer comments because they showcase just how maniacal and absurdist his neurological makeup must be. To wit: take for instance his legendary reply gag to Gamboa Constrictor in the now-sacrosanct Manti Te'o story (NOTE: I plunged through a year and a half of Echo's commenting history to find this fucking story and I still can't; Echo, if you can find it and link for posterity, I will be forever grateful), which leads the reader through a veritable labyrinth of Native American mythology only to have the bottom fall out in spectacular fashion. You feel almost betrayed for having read what is bold and vivid and almost reverent. This comment, like Fidrych or die tryin's recent masterpiece, tenderizes the cut, applies all the vinegar and spices, and slow-smokes it for hours until it's just ready for table. Yet, unlike Fodt, Echo slams a hot sear down at the end for a more pointed, if by no means less hilarious, punctuating zinger.
To more recent history, shall we? While speaking about longform narrative, we shan't leave out this wily submission from a couple weeks ago. Again, all of SSE's signature trademarks are here: an upbeat, jovial mode of delivery; a sort of constant winking that says "just wait for it;" an ever-present tinge of self-aware idiocy that, to my mind, typifies most of SSE's best work. Let me pause here, in fact. Same Sad Echo is one of the best Idiot joke craftsmen in the game today. We at the Daily Roundups capitalize Idiot joke for the very reason that people like Echo write them so consistently well. They're a trope, a motif, as it were, around the Deadspin dumpsters, and those still honing their craft should look to the Same Sad Echoes and RMJ=Hs of the world as model Idiots. Why, just recall this stupid, stupid fucking gimmick last month. I couldn't get enough of it. It's one of those scenes that makes you shake your head in wonder, while at the same time you're holding your head in your hands and weeping tears of joy and laughter and pleasure and awe at what you don't understand. I still don't fully get it. Duck bills? Really? That's the fucking punchline? You look at a gutted cow carcass of the Bills being sold and you pick out duck bills as the kernel of that dialogue? What the fuck is wrong with you, Echo? I hope you're an organ donor, because we need to examine your brain in the future.
What else can I say about this brilliant adaptation of the Oscar Meyer Wiener song? Or this sublimely florid headline rewrite? I can't say anything, really, but that they are absolute gems amid Echo's wonderful body of work. So, it would be a disservice to omit one of my favorite one-liners, which is this goofy responsion joke in the counterfeit World Cup trophies story from some months back. This joke is so classically SSE in its willful idiocy (Aside: Echo misses the point on purpose like none other). Like, of course the picture reminds the reader of bowling, so why not throw some numbers together for a zany bowling joke? Christ, I'm laughing at it all over again. Idiot.
So thank you, Same Sad Echo, for consistently cutting me up by means of brilliant stupidity. I hope this Profile in Commenting doesn't go to your head, which is already over-saturated with maple syrup, cottage cheese, and bong resin (I assume). Bravo, good buddy, and please don't ever leave us.