Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
There is a certain class of people that will make jokes that are intentionally vague in the way that they are worded. The victim will of course think that the obvious meaning is what the person is talking about, because sane people will take that direction. Then when the low-brow person takes it and turns it to make a joke out of the fact that the victim was simply following the norms of discussion they will say that is what makes the joke "funny".
To make his joke, smart-ass Cueball (alternatively, smart ass-Cueball) first states that in the phrase "the English language" there are three words. He tries to put Black Hat off the scent by following this statement with a listing of two words that end in gry: "Angry" and "Hungry". Then he asks for the third word of the phrase he previously stated (to which the answer would be "language"). The ambiguity comes in because of how he says it, intentionally messing with intonation cues. Compare:
- There are three words in the English language that end in "gry". "Angry" and "Hungry" are two. What's the third?
- There are three words in "the English language". That end in "gry", "Angry" and "Hungry" are two. What's the third?
The fact that he's using intentional ambiguity leads Black Hat to cut off his hand. The lesson that Black Hat is trying to teach is that using verbal ambiguity to make a joke at another person's expense is not funny to the audience. Which is why people make humor, to entertain other people. To make "humor" to entertain yourself is called being a jerk.
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- [Black Hat and Cueball are standing next to each other.]
- Cueball: There are three words in the English language that end in "gry". "Angry" and "Hungry" are two. What's the third?
- Black Hat: I don't think there is one, unless you count really obscure words.
- Cueball: Ha! It's "language"! I said there are three words in "the English--"
- [Black Hat grabs Cueball's hand with a GRAB]
- Cueball: What th-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
- [Black Hat slices off Cueball's hand with a knife.]
- Black Hat: Ok, listen carefully.
- Cueball: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
- [Cueball is bleeding profusely.]
- Black Hat: Communicating badly then acting smug when you're misunderstood is not cleverness.
- Cueball: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
- Black Hat: I hope we've learned something today.
- Cueball: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Ok, everything on this page, I already got. The bit I came here for, is the exact nature of the ambiguity. What is 'the phrase'?
"The English language that end in gry", he's wrong because there are more than three words.
"The English language", he's wrong because none of them end in gry.
"There are three words in the English language ...", wrong again because language isn't the third word.
So...? -- Zergling_man 22.214.171.124 15:24, 20 November 2012 (UTC)
- The second paragraph in the explanation is what you are looking for. But as a brief overview: The reason it's easy to miss is that the words are written as a dialog would happen. If it had been properly punctuated it would have read "There are three words in 'the English language' that end with gry: 'Angry' and 'Hungry' are two. What's the third?" Cueball is saying there are three words in the phrase 'the English language' but to distract his intended victim he continues the sentence so the phrase is hidden among other words that, when taken as a whole, have a seeming continuity. This is why Black Hat cuts off Cueball's hand. Because the "joke" is not funny and being intentionally ambiguous and then being smug when the ambiguity has its intended effect is not humor. lcarsos_a (talk) 16:01, 20 November 2012 (UTC)
- But this doesn't actually answer my question. Take it without the distraction. "There are three words in the English language that end in gry. What's the third?" Even then, it still doesn't make any sense. If you take it as "there are three words in the English language. What's the third?", then you're left with "that end in gry: Angry and hungry are two", and that doesn't make any sense at all. I'm not seeing how there's any way both meanings can be valid, whatever you do to this, it seems at least one is completely nonsensical. -- Zergling_man 126.96.36.199 13:00, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
- The trouble is that Randall told the joke incorrectly... it should be (with proper punctuation) "There are three words in 'The English Language'. Ending in 'gry' there are 'angry' and 'hungry' What is the third word?" 188.8.131.52 04:59, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
- I think a better way to say it is:
- There are at least 3 words in "the English language that end with 'gry'. 'Angry' and 'hungry' are two". What is the third word? 184.108.40.206 08:33, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
- For anyone who is curious, the answer is "gryphon." Greyson (talk) 20:47, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
- They have to end with "GRY", an answer can be "unangry", but "gryphon" does not end with GRY (source:http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=words+that+end+in+GRY) 220.127.116.11 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- No; the original question asked for 3 words that had 'gry' in the end. 'Angry' and 'hungry' have 'gry' in the back end. 'Gryphon' has 'gry' in the front end.
- Also, sudo sign all your comments by adding 4 tildes in the back end of your comment. Greyson (talk) 19:37, 11 February 2013 (UTC)
- actually, as you van read in the explanation, the entire question is wrong, the joke should not have the requirement of English words ending with gry, but have the question simply be there are only three words in the English language, what is the third, prefaced by a misguiding comment about words that end with gry, like angry and hungry. The point of the joke is that this preface is not part of the question, and as such it creates a hilarious intentional misunderstanding. 18.104.22.168 10:01, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I really doubt this is Cueball, as he is seen later with both arms, and he is nowhere near as much of an asshole (or an idiot) to tell this joke incorrectly. 22.214.171.124 18:45, 8 August 2013 (UTC) tildes for the win
- There are many Cueballs, just read the page on him. However, this doesn't exactly fit the normal Cueball's character. Gman314 (talk) 16:40, 21 August 2013 (UTC)
The title text is missing. Am I right that Randall states that postmodernists are not clever?--Dgbrt (talk) 19:31, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
- No, I would say that Randall is making a joke about postmodern art. Stereotypically, postmodern art is very subtle and symbolic and doesn't look like much, but there is still a message hiding underneath. Randall is saying that they're not conveying their point well, but are still acting smug when people don't understand their poorly communicated point. Gman314 (talk) 16:40, 21 August 2013 (UTC)
- No, but almost. Randall does feel that post-modernists are prone to this behavior, and this behavior is not clever. 126.96.36.199 01:44, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
Wikipedia has an entire page devoted to the -GRY joke (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/-gry
) 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)