I enjoy @midnight a lot, although I haven’t been keeping up with it regularly. One thing they do that’s pretty fun to join in is the Hashtag Wars that occur every episode. A Twitter hashtag is provided as a prompt for all and sundry to chime in with their jokes and riffs on the topic.
For example, a fun parlour game was used for the #PoopMovies edition of the Hashtag wars, wherein you nominate movie titles that could be construed to be about defecation or could be easily modified to be about shitpoopfart jokes e.g. Anaconda, Operation Dumbo Drop, Shart and so on.
So recently the topic for the Hashtag Wars was #RuinABoardGame, which marries two things that are near and dear to my heart: board games and terrible puns/jokes. Obviously I decided to chime in on the ol’ @ehronlime Twittertron. I started out with games that would be recognizable to the mainstream, but after a few I decided to step up the challenge and go through my own board game collection to try and come up with some deep cuts for the board game geek crowd.
Keeping to the geeky theme and to prevent this post from just being me reheating some tepid wordplay in a listicle, I’ve also decided to categorise my “jokes” and do a cursory analysis of the types of jokes I tend to go for. Here’s the complete list of 65 “jokes” with some commentary, and the statistics are compiled at the bottom.
Russian Railroads: Ok I lie, I actually started with a couple of deep cut train game jokes before realising I should broaden my reach. This one’s a Direct Juxtaposition. I’m strictly defining it as when I use the exact game name juxtaposed with some horrible/unexpected context.
18XX: Not content with ruining one board game, I’m trying to ruin a whole series of them. Another for the Direct Juxtaposition column.
The Game of Life: Letter Wordplay for when it relies more on the spelling of the word than the sound, which would instead be a Pun.
Monopoly: The most lazy form of Direct Juxtaposition. Board games actually play well into this with super obvious titles like “Colonialism” and “Strange Hero Worship of German Military Commanders while Ignoring Other Contexts of the War”.
Twister: Again, Direct Juxtaposition by transposing context which I’m actually super fond of doing and is the jumping off point for a lot of my references.
Operation: Direct Juxtaposition rears its head again. This one’s a softball which could have gone so many ways. I chose Military since I already started with Colossus of Rhodes…
Clue: Our first Pun although you could argue it also fits our definition of Direct Juxtaposition, with some Letter Wordplay to reinforce the joke. Also known as Cluedo Clux Clan outside of North America.
Jenga: This one’s a bit of a stretch and needs the inflection (Jen-Gaaaa-Zi) to sell the Pun.
Chess: Even more of a stretch for this Pun, although I personally often drop the stop when speaking quickly.
Uno: Letter Wordplay as this references Internet slang, and I don’t actually know many people who pronounce it YOU-no rather than the common OO-no.
Guess Who?: Straight up Direct Juxtaposition returns.
Pictionary: Letter Wordplay again, which probably is disproportionately represented since this exercise is in a text medium.
Trivial Pursuit: More Letter Wordplay than true Pun, as the pronunciation is quite different. I expected this to be a pretty common joke, but I didn’t see it in my random sampling.
Ticket to Ride: Pun with a supertopical reference, since I’m in Sydney at the moment for work and I actually do pass through North Ryde every day on my commute.
A Fake Artist Goes to New York: I guess this is a Pun? Also strange to reference a rivalry that I’ve only been aware of through pop culture.
Agricola: This is what I’m calling an Appended Context Switch. I realise Juxtaposition and Context Switch are pretty similar, but that’s what I put down in my spreadsheet and I’m sticking to it. The “appended” bit is to denote that you’ve added something to the base reference that wasn’t there before.
Among the Stars: Putting it in the Pun category thought it’s a toss up with Letter Wordplay.
Battleship: Letter Wordplay as it requires an odd split in the word.
Android: Netrunner: Another Appended Context Switch, where the context isn’t really switched since you could imagine old-school runners using Netscape. It’s the future of the 1990s! Would be better if I had shopped a Netscape browser onto an Android phone.
Betrayal at House on the Hill: I’ve called this subset De-escalation, as you transform it to the same context but at a lower level of urgency.
Boss Monster: Again with the De-escalation. Another that would be disproportionately represented since the hashtag calls for “ruining”.
Cards Against Humanity: I actually saw other people tweeting this after I did my search and now I hate this pun because I’m such a joke hipster.
The Settlers of Catan (now known as Catan): A further form of the Appended Context Switch/Juxtaposition, the Transformed Context Switch. The “transformed” bit is when you’ve done more than just adding or subtracting little things to the original reference.
Colt Express: A bit of a stretch with the De-escalation, and Matt came up with a better riff on the theme here:
Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game: This De-escalation was too much of a stretch since you never use the term “Dead of Spring”.
Dixit: A Pun that actually reflects what I often call the game. Get it? Because dicks.
Dominion: Minion hate is in, right? I want to be in on it too with the cool kids and this Letter Wordplay.
Arkham Horror: Again with the half-hearted De-escalation. Come back when you’ve got something better, buddy.
Five Tribes: This is pretty bad since I don’t actually think there’s anything funny about a fifth installment in the Tribes series.
Forbidden Desert: Transformed Context Switch due to the Letter Wordplay gymnastics to get it there.
Glory to Rome: Direct Juxtaposition of one of my favourite games.
Guillotine: Straight up Pun, which could have gone in more interesting places, but again I went for the easy target.
Love Letter: I could have made it “I Love Letterman” but it would dilute the Appended Context Switch.
Magic: The Gathering: Scraping the bottom of the barrel in this De-escalation, which also features a typo: The dismal shriveled cherry on this melted puddle sundae of failure.
Race for the Galaxy: This Appended Context Switch reminds me of a great line in Rick & Morty.
Risk Legacy: Technically should be “Credit Risk Legacy” which would make it more of a Direct Juxtaposition than an Appended Context Switch.
Shadows over Camelot: It’s hard to have anything more to say after making it halfway through the list. Letter Wordplay. Whatever.
Sheriff of Nottingham: Boop. Pun. Boop.
Splendor: Okay, I’m actually a little bit proud of this Pun.
The Resistance: And this Direct Juxtaposition. To my shame, I had to look this up because I’ve forgotten everything I’ve learned in school. Especially how to splel.
Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization: Way to gild the lily on this barely-worth-it Transformed Context Switch.
Tichu: I don’t even know what a Chu Chu Rocket is. Also should technically by TichuChu Rocket. Obviously the guy doing an analysis of Twitter jokes in a spreadsheet would be concerned with being technically correct.
Vegas Showdown: It is actually a little bit AP-susceptible if you don’t get people to do their math ahead of time.
Welcome to the Dungeon: I can’t believe it took me this long in my life to make this (dis)connection.
Dungeon of Mandom: Technically, a domme is a female dominant so I didn’t need to change the spelling but I thought that would highlight the joke but now I’m wrong and who wants to be wrong no not me no sir, I mean mistress.
XCOM: The Board Game: Catholic Guilt might have been better, but may be too much.
Wits & Wagers: Terrible.
Balderdash: Get in the bin. (At this point I realised I had only been looking at my recently played list, and went back to my full collection list for the rest of the jokes)
Brass: Set it on fire.
Ca$h ‘n Gun$: Really should have been “$mall Change ‘n NERF(TM) Gun$” to really cram it down/up your throat.
Chaos in the Old World: I’m writing this on a beautiful Friday night. Why.
Dominant Species: Why, damnit. Why.
Flash Point: Fire Rescue: ufvwbra9usgbw
Kings of Air and Steam: I’d actually play this, hence tagging the publisher. Make this please.
Legend of the Five Rings: Piss poor.
Machi Koro: Not sure about the grammar on this one, in fact I’m pretty sure it’s wrong, but hey multilingual joke. Kill me.
Mage Knight Board Game: Cuts so deep, your downstairs neighbour voided their insurance.
Munchkin: I could be doing something useful with my life. I really could.
Survive: Escape from Atlantis!: The power of BRANDING. Also it’s pretty confusing that there are multiple Walking Dead board games from different publishers.
Terra Mystica: I’m sorry, this is the worst one of all. The literal worst. You need to know both board games and video games, and who even plays video games?
The Battle at Kemble’s Cascade: Originally was Beatbox Battle but I just love the term B-Boy.
The Castles of Burgundy: I used Google for this. Obvs not going to pass my interior decoration licensing test next month.
The Manhattan Project: Okay, someone must have done this before for Manhattan.
Tragedy Looper: I’m actually pretty proud of this one. I even found a suitable video and everything.
Warhammer 40k: Welp.
Okay that was no better than anything you could find on Buzzfeed or some other listicle site. HOWEVER. I’m going to go a tiny step further and offer up some CHARTZ.
I pulled up some other “Top Tweets” from the hashtag, mainly looking at the Top 10 Tweets as chosen by the @midnight team, a few that appeared on the show itself, and then at any Tweet that was Favourited more than 50 times (well the ones that turned up in a quick Google search anyway) to see how mine stacked up. I got 57 jokes for my “Top Tweets” dataset, combined with my own 65 for a pool of 122 internet funnies about board games.
I did a quick summary of the board games referenced, whether they were Mass Market games, Broadly well-known ones that would have gotten exposure from stuff like Tabletop and other non-hobby sites, or Niche games that pretty much only hobbyists would know. The large proportion of the “Top Tweets” referenced Mass Market and Broadly known board games, as was expected. I’m sure if I looked further down the line I’d find more Niche tweets. In fact, let me know what your favourite Tweeterjokefragments about Niche board games are, and I’ll add them to the spreadsheet.
Looking at the joke styles, you can see that there are far more styles represented in the “Top Tweets” sample, though Direct Juxtaposition looks to be the clear winner. Direct Juxtaposition is super easy to do, so it’s not surprising that it’s the most common form of wordplay. You don’t have to do anything creative to the base reference, just find a different context for it. Obviously the categorization is very subjective, so this whole exercise is pointless anyway. I’m glad I spend time on this. Oh yeah, I guess I make lots of Puns. Letter Wordplay is also higher than the Top Tweets sample. Use the medium, people!
Looking at Subject Matter of the jokes, my own tastes seem to follow the general trend of mostly referencing everyday mundanity (again, super subjective) followed by Politics/History and Pop Culture references. So the takeaway here is be as broad as possible and hit some current topical references as well and you’ll be fine.
So there you have it. I conducted a lengthy and pointless exercise in analysing some Twitter jokes from a hashtag created by a TV show’s writers room for “social engagement” thereby playing into their hands, not actually learning anything, and losing 20 victory points. I think I’m going to go cry in the shower now, but that’s totally unrelated.
P.S.: Here’s my spreadsheet if for some reason you want to look at the data driving the charts. Also, let me know what your favourite jokes are? I’d be curious to run this as a poll on BGG where the audience is really different.
EDIT: I actually updated the spreadsheet and the post above since I omitted a couple of Tweets by accident, but I’m too lazy to re-do all the charts. There’s only so much I will do to push a meta-joke about analysing jokes not being very funny.