Quipmaster!

12Mar10

Before The Office‘s Michael Scott introduced the phrase “Boom! Roasted!” into my everyday vocabulary, I was the Quipmaster.

Years ago, your favorite Internet humorist Jay Pinkerton started a small private web forum to stay in touch with colleagues from our old university satirical rag. Many of the pieces that eventually made him your favorite Internet humorist were first written there for our amusement and later recycled and sold to more appreciative and better paying publications by a teary-eyed, furious Jay after the usual response to his painstaking labor became to quote the first few words of his essay, followed by the sentence “I stopped reading here.”

So, in a very real sense, we were directly responsible for all Jay’s subsequent success, which was achieved out of pure spite. You’re welcome, Jay. My only regret is that this took place before the coining of the acronym tl;dr, which would have not only saved the rest of us even more time but would have made Jay even more furious and therefore more successful (and slightly sooner).

This is where a teary-eyed, furious Jay will immediately jab at the “Leave a comment” button — linked right here for his convenience so he doesn’t even have to scroll — and type “I stopped reading here,” or perhaps even “tl;dr”. But first, I hasten to point out that I never did any of this. By this, I mean that I sometimes did this. But it was usually other people. But what I did was somehow more maddening in a way that Jay reserves resentment solely toward me and therefore, I expect, credits me solely with all of his success. What I did to become, for all intents and purposes, the wind beneath his wings, was to simply respond to most posts on that forum with a simple one-liner, followed by the word “Quipmaster!”

As I explained in the comment thread of an old post, this was merely a verbal self-high five, with the aim of making my quip seem like a masterstroke of wit. As I also explained there, and as I was telling my girlfriend the other day, I also used to have a gimmick of following up every spoken one-liner with a sweet harmonica lick. The true effectiveness of the harmonica gimmick comes from sheer volume. The sudden sonic blast makes it nearly impossible for the victim of the quip to make any sort of retort without being drowned out. It drove my housemates nuts. It drove my friend Scott nuts. My girlfriend now forbids me from owning a harmonica. All my years of practice would be wasted, had I ever learned to play a harmonica in the first place, which I have been sternly told was part of the problem.

I’m not even allowed to talk about harmonicas, which is particularly tragic because I miss calling it a “mouth organ”, which sounds dirty. So, over the years, I’ve substituted other non-prop-based verbal self-high-fives into my act. Recently, I tried punctuating my quips by shouting the lyrics chanted in the bootlegged early version of the Beach Boys song “Ding Dang”: “Alley oop! Whoo! Fuck her! Big tits!” But it turned out that this was considered even more dirty-sounding than calling a harmonica a “mouth organ”, and I am now forbidden from listening to the Beach Boys.  So, until these embargoes are lifted, it’s back to “Boom! Roasted!” But I’m still a quipmaster at heart.

That’s what makes it so surprising that it took so long for me to start a Twitter account: It’s completely a quipmaster’s medium. Oddly, I only started my account to read other quipmasterly Twitter users before realizing it could be turned to my own purposes.

For example, several related tweets might sometimes inspire a longer piece on a neglected blog such as this one. (More often, a flurry of related tweets might just inspire people to tell me to knock it off, as appears to have happened in this cartoon by my friend Matt.*) But other times, Twitter is the perfect medium for that one time-sensitive quip that isn’t worth an entire blog post (e.g., “I can understand why Gabourey Sidibe didn’t win the Best Actress Oscar. But why didn’t she win the Most Actress Oscar?”) Also, because I’m still fairly sure my mother hasn’t figured out what a Twitter is, it’s still a safe repository for all those things I shouldn’t have said (e.g., “I haven’t seen Russians choking like they did in these Olympics since I rented Throatgagger Tryouts #14.”)

Of course, only 140 characters are available for any given tweet. That leads to two realizations: First, I can hardly spare 14 characters for a “Boom! Roasted!” or even 11 for a “Quipmaster!”, let alone the 36 needed for that dirty “Ding Dang” thing. So I’d appreciate if you could just imagine a sweet harmonica lick in your head any time you read one of my tweets. You probably play the mouth organ better in your imagination than I do in real life anyway. (Oh, I’ll bet you do.)

And second, I can make a man’s head explode out of sheer, teary-eyed fury with one simple tweet: @jaypinkerton: tl;dr

He is welcome in advance.

*While I’m on the subject of James Brown’s corpse’s recent disappearance, I just want to point out that I called this one in my roundup of the 10 Most Dead People of 2006: James Brown was never dead. Any minute, he’s going to throw off the cape draped over his shoulders and run back out onstage.



14 Responses to “Quipmaster!”

  1. 1 Matt

    First of all, I want to stress that I wasn’t taking you to task with this afternoon’s strip; if anything, I was trying to keep up. And by “trying to keep up,” I mean “spending an hour at the Firkin cranking out one terrible pun after another until it came time to get back to work.” Either way, thanks for the link.

    Second, you’re absolutely right about Twitter; it’s easy to make fun of people for tweeting about their lunch or their recent purchases, but if each one of those tweets means one less blog post on the same kind of subject, then the web is all the better for it.

    Finally, and this is totally more of an apology than a boast, but looking back, I think I may have actually been the one who coined “I stopped reading here.”

  2. 2 Peter Lynn

    Of course, your typing “I stopped reading here” did result in our amusement, which was Jay’s goal all along, so who knows what all the tears and fury were about?

    As for the comic, I only regret that I got to the more obvious horrible puns before you got the chance to put them in today’s strip.

    And as for useless tweets, I really only read quipmasters. I don’t even read funny stand-up comedians who miss the chance to tell jokes on Twitter and just post about upcoming tour dates. As I’ve said before, it’s like they’re saying “I won’t be funny now, but here’s where you can pay to see me be funny in the future.” That’s why Jim Gaffigan is a much better Twitterer than, say, Louis C.K.

  3. 3 Jay

    This is going to drive me crazy now until I remember it, but I fuzzily recall that a lot of us had “Quipmaster!”-related monikers that we pulled out for our one-liners. “Quipmaster!” seems to have stuck, either because it’s catchier or because you just have smaller issue with beating a gag to death over the course of a decade, but I know I had one too and it’s killing me I can’t remember it. Sir Roast-a-lot? The Burn Ward? Retortalammadingdong? Bah.

  4. 4 Jay

    If it makes you feel any better, I remember Justin being the “tldr” guy. I remember you being more the thread-derailing guy. We’d all be talking about something, with you hovering vulture-like around the periphery, waiting to pounce with a zinger while simultaneously ignoring the conversation entirely.

  5. 5 Peter Lynn

    The other thing I did was consistently correct your spelling of non sequitur every time I made one.

    Matt actually checked and confirms that he was the first to use “I stopped reading here” (but then, he absorbed his share of punishment as well). I looked for myself, and it appears that I liked to occasionally use the phrase after quoting your post in its entirety, thus implying that I’d actually read every word of it, from start to finish. But of course, at that point, just seeing the phrase made you justifiably furious.

    I remembered immediately that Justin styled himself the Zing King. As for you, I recalled only that you took a more complicated moniker that I knew even then would be impossible to remember. Research shows me that even you couldn’t remember it from post to post, going variously by “Ace Brannigan: Agent of R.I.D.I.C.U.L.E.”, “Biff Brannigan: Agent of R.I.D.I.C.U.L.E.”, and “Rock Maverick: Agent of R.I.D.I.C.U.L.E.” I also found a post where you brainstormed the following titles, throwing them up for grabs:

    * The Duke of Rebuke (also: The Duke of Disparagement)
    * Dr. Droll
    * The Wizard of Whimsy
    * Professor Pun (also: Professor Prank)
    * The Wit Machine
    * The Savant of Taunt
    * Commandant Bon Mot
    * The Duchess of Waggery
    * Sgt. Scoff (also: Sgt. Scorn)
    * The Browbeater
    * Sir Roasts-a-lot
    * The Sheik of Tongue-in-Cheek
    * The Retortinator
    * Tom Foolery
    * Mrs. Mock
    * The Sultan of Sarcasm
    * Minister of Outrage
    * Mudslinger! (exclamation mark not necessary but encouraged)
    * General Jibe
    * The Rude Brood (good for those of you who quip in teams!)
    * The Fool-Maker
    * Derisive Dan (this one kind of only works if your name’s Dan)
    * The Limp-Noodled Kinda-Revenger [this one you suggested be used by Matt]

  6. 6 hilly

    You guys are some sort of witty, more well-meaning Legion of Doom, although you still retain a great deal of the malevolence of the original.

  7. 7 theorrhea

    “…so after following my 37-step plan, March 23rd will be the day that I, Lex Luthor, FINALLY GET MY HANDS ON SUPERMAN!”
    “You might want to wear protection, lex. Bam, Joker’d!”
    “You’re one to talk, Mr. “Wears-lipstick-and-calls-his-archnemesis-Darling”! Bam, Gorilla Grodd’d!

  8. 8 Grom

    I remember Jay shutting down the site because his employer would not like having him talking about killing baby’s all the time. But twitter doesn’t count it seems if you got gems like this: “It’s great that vacuum cleaners have those clear windows on them. You can really see how much semen you’re getting off in one shot that way.” Thanks for the link, quipmaster.

  9. 9 Marlene

    I like to think that Michael Scott’s middle name is Peter.

  10. 10 Scott

    Whoops, that was supposed to have been by me. Anyway, his middle name turns out to be Gary but at least he’s “an embodiment of the Peter Principle.”

  11. * The Duke of Rebuke (also: The Duke of Disparagement)
    * Dr. Droll
    * The Wizard of Whimsy
    * Professor Pun (also: Professor Prank)
    * The Wit Machine
    * The Savant of Taunt

    I stopped reading here.

  12. Peter, I fall in love with you a little bit more everyday. If that sounds creepy, I have two valid excuses: I am on the internet, and I have been drinking.

    Also, I didn’t realize I was NOT following Jay until I read this post. Thank you sir, you are a Saint.

  13. 13 kitty

    basically, what DeScepter said above. I love you, Pet, and this post is why. and I have not been drinking.

  14. 14 Eric

    I have been drinking. I would say more, but my boss says I have to get back to work.


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