Comedy that panders to one specific audience never works. It's why most people mistake the jokes on Sex and the City for videos of livestock giving birth. Hilarity is complicated, so let me try to put it another way. Writing comedy is like being locked in an elevator with a broken security camera and a medical cadaver -- anything goes. That being said, there are a lot of things you can do that are horribly, horribly wrong.
These four books set out to create humor for nerds back when that word meant something. Instead, they spawned black holes of clumsy, punning anti-comedy. If our society imposed criminal penalties for sucking, the authors and cartoonists responsible would be cryogenically frozen until future generations invented a way to put a bag of cats up their dickholes. Summon your strength ... I'm about to show you what I'm talking about.
#4. Mirthful Kombat: Jokes with BYTE! (1993) by John M. Byrne
John M. Byrne is an Irish author of dozens of cartoon and joke books, and all of them are garbage. He writes puns like he's not sure what they are. He flails blindly at malapropism with all the grace of a tornado ripping out his catheter. He's worse than unfunny. Sex offenders use his words to explain to children what's happening to them. If John M. Byrne wrote "Who's on First," Abbott's first and closing lines would have been "POOCH on first!? Bow wow WOW!"
You may have already spotted a pattern here, and I'm not talking about how this man has the wit of hangover diarrhea. Mirthful Kombat contains only video game jokes, and the only two things the author knows about those are 1) something called Sonic is a hedgehog and 2) the Super Mario Brothers are Italian plumbers. I'm not exaggerating. There are about 250 jokes in this book, and literally none of them are about a third video game. Apes did more research before they invented AIDS than John did before he wrote this book.
Nintendormouse? Moontendo? Was there a single stray thought in this goddamn idiot's head that didn't make the final cut? This book is so vile that blind people somehow know when it's in the room with them. They will look directly at it and hiss.
I can see people using that joke. Maybe as their defense when the prosecuting attorney asks them "What did the deceased say to you before you stomped his mouth into his stupid, shitty brain?" Oh, before we go on ... you should know that John M. Byrne, the man who thought Bing Crosby's Byte Christmas was a complete joke, has written multiple books on how to write comedy. Yeah, I thought that'd get your attention, Satan.
That's so far from a joke I can't even begin to explain to John why it doesn't work. I ... it'd be like telling the neurons in an autistic boy's brain that they're going the wrong way while he blankly examines his grandmother's death rattle.
If the English language had a rape whistle, it would be blowing it right now.
Eyeliner researchers are funnier than this when they explain to their boss why they need more rabbits.
What the shi- oh, I get it. This is how a sense of humor writes a suicide note.
This man is so unfunny that instead of fart sounds, his asshole recites obituaries.
John Byrne, you fucking piece of shit.
These two sentences are all that remain of a Luftwaffe scientist's attempt at turning laughter into snakes.
Look at this stupid dick scramble for a play on words. It's not cute anymore. I feel like I'm watching a homeless man try to eat a brick for a dollar.
What? No really, what the hell is this madness? John M. Byrne, I'll tell you the same thing I told your wife: I pulled that dick out of your mouth because your beard itches, not because I wanted to hear you read from your dumbass dream journal.
As a man who teaches the art of humorous writing, John M. Byrne knows how important context is for comedy. You can't simply tell the reader "Batteries go in a Gameboy!" and call it a punchline. He made a couple small mistakes in this joke, like forgetting to mention why Methuselah could only buy one set of batteries, why that might be funny and how or why any of this shit is happening. It's really only a desperate attempt at getting a double meaning from the term "long life," which kind of only has one meaning, so yes ... this joke is objectively terrible. If the Special Olympics had a comedy writing event, this would be the only entry that didn't win a hug. John M. Byrne is so tragic that breast cancer walks to end him.
#3. The Pac-Man Riddle and Joke Book (1982) by Mike Thaler
When you look at the cover and see Pac-Man jumping his own video game on a motorcycle, it's easy to assume that this is just a book about awesome insane things. It's absolutely the opposite of that. This book is an exhaustive collection of puns on the words "dot" and "Pac," except I'm making it sound too fun. If you found these jokes on a dead body, the forensic psychologist would say, "The killer was a robot. No ... human could misunderstand humor this badly."
That's it? I ... I can't tell if this is the world's worst joke or the world's best riddle.
I think we can all agree that turning "bad" into "Pac" is a clutzy pun. Without a doubt, fuck Mike "America's Riddle King" Thaler for writing that. But more importantly, look at the nightmarish dystopia this comic hints at. It's a world where each dot in Pac-Man's maze is a living, feeling creature with its own personality. And not only are they forced to ponder and discuss this existence while they hover motionless forever, they can actually smell the rotting remains of their family when the yellow monster face that devoured them comes close. That might be more depressing than this cartoon's punchline.
Dressing Pac-Man up like Batman is an ironically genius way to tell the world that you're a dipshit.
So you're saying that if Pac-Man had sex with a sweater, it would spawn a drag queen growing out of a scrotum? I guess that's closer to comedy than typing the word "Pat-Man" under a Batman Pac-Man. I am still kind of pissed off about that. "Pat-Man" is like something a seizure would make your mouth say instead of "Help."
H-hats? But ... what? I'm not sure I get why anyone would make this. Is this trying to show us what newborn babies experience when you circumcise them?
Nice joke, America's Riddle King. Honestly, how uselessly dumb is a person allowed to be before animal control is obligated to shoot them?
Was this written to punish you if you appreciate orchestral compositions from the '20s and can also name all the Pac-Man ghosts? If that describes you, haven't you suffered enough?
My God. The only reason a person would write it would be because their genitals were shaped like a "Q" and they were trying to get revenge on language itself.
I read this piece of trash from cover to cover, and if Mike Thaler held a gun to my head and demanded I point out a funny part, I would tell him to pull the trigger after congratulating him on finally understanding surreal humor.