IDGI and Humor: Risk and Reward
So the comic was pretty straightforward. The punchline was solid. But the cartoonist felt the need to explain his joke with a little character who made the punchline painfully obvious. And, in so doing, completely ruined any humor that had been created.
On a Web site, Comics I Don’t Understand, the comment ran thusly:
Metatexts, hidden panels, side comments… who started this horrible trend, and how can we make it stop?
I stared at my screen, quite literally gobsmacked.
“Who started this horrible trend“?!
This man who has been updating a site — for more than a decade — with the central purpose of highlighting comics that didn’t hammer you over the head with a punchline… is that the man who just wrote that sentence?!
And before you report me to Blogs I Don’t Understand dot com, please know that I write that with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
However, this highlights a fundamental rule of humor: Nobody wants to get the IDGI [“I Don’t Get It“]. And if you deliver a punchline and your reader/audience responds with an IDGI… well, that’s a missed opportunity — one you can learn from. BUT… if you write every gag under the constant fear of an IDGI… you’ll never write the level of humor you’re capable of.
And I’ll tell you why.