1178: Pickup Artists

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Pickup Artists
It sounds like a great way to make friends! Is it near that Friend Zone you keep talking about? I wanna go!
Title text: It sounds like a great way to make friends! Is it near that Friend Zone you keep talking about? I wanna go!


This comic is deliberately conflating two definitions of the word "pickup" to try and discredit one of them.

A pickup artist is a person who considers himself skilled at "picking up" (seducing) women (theoretically a pickup artist could try to seduce men but this is far less common), through various psychological tactics and tricks. They are commonly looked down upon for incredibly jerkish behavior. Meanwhile the term "pickup" in "pickup basketball" means informal and spontaneous. In pickup basketball the players are not part of an organized league or team but rather are just people who are available to play at that time and location.

Beret Guy thinks (or wants to think) that what pickup artists really do is gather spontaneously to practice artistry, like the visual arts. This makes the world seem a happier place, especially considering his own disposition for (eccentric) art, and generally ability to always see the best in every situation.

Randall does not believe that pick-up artists have healthy attitudes towards women and has elaborated on this previously in 1027: Pickup Artist (also featuring Hairy) and in 800: Beautiful Dream.

The title text also shows Beret Guy's belief that the "friend zone" is a physical place. The term "friend zone" refers to a state in which one party (almost always male) desires a romantic or sexual relationship with someone (almost always female) who only thinks of them as a friend, with the notion that being classified as a friend is blocking them from being considered as a romantic partner. The use of this term has become quite controversial, however, because it implies that the man considers himself entitled to a romantic relationship in which the woman has no interest. References to being in "the friend zone" is almost universally stated as a complaint, and the other party's desires is treated as an obstacle to be overcome, often through manipulation and deception. Randall previously expressed criticism towards trying to just slip into a romantic relationship from the friend zone in 513: Friends.

Beret Guy however believes (or chooses to believe) that the term refers to a physical place that's either full of friends, or a place where people go to make friends. In either case, he thinks such a 'zone' sounds fun.


[Beret Guy is talking with Hairy.]
Beret Guy: What've you been up to lately?
Hairy: I've been hanging out with some pickup artists.
Hairy: I'm learning a lot!
Beret Guy: Oh, that sounds like fun!
[Caption below the panel:]
The world seems like a happier place if you think "pickup artist" is like "pickup basketball player".


This comic is one of a small set of comics with the same or almost the same title as another comic (the only difference being the use of the plural form of "artist").

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Oh my God, this one's brilliant. 06:53, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

I did not get it. Waiting for explanation. 07:43, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
See also comic #1027 10:47, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

Added an explanation for the title text, but it's probably too wordy and not very clear. Anyone have any suggestions? Cornarias (talk) 11:07, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

Umm... "The pun lies in the fact that a pickup basketball player becomes skilled at basketball." I thought the pun was on the word "artist" meaning someone that does...art. The same goes with the "friend zone" explanation. It doesn't seem like disbelief, but rather that there is a "place to meet friends" or "a place that friends go to hang out" (in other words, "a zone of friends"). So the joke is that the world seems happier because you think the words are describing subjectively better things than they actually are. But that's just my take on the comic. 11:11, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

P.S. This is a Saturday comic? 11:19, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
Not anymore. Davidy²²[talk] 11:21, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
Al right, just change it then. :) Jaap-Jan (talk) 14:33, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
It's a matter of opinion, though. I don't make edits based on opinion. 02:52, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

I think it's time we give the other guy a name. What about Sleezy Guy? ChrisFortyTwo (talk)

Seconded. I remember he's been named Harry in the past. A quick search brings up 1028. He's appeared quite a bit now, and he probably should be named. Davidy²²[talk] 12:54, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
Thirded. But maybe something a bit nicer sounding. Cornarias (talk) 13:49, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
Fourthed. And changed to 'Harry'. Should we add a tag as well? Jaap-Jan (talk) 14:33, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
That would probably have to go through due process via explain xkcd:Community portal/Proposals, but it should go through quickly enough, given how often Harry appears. Davidy²²[talk] 14:42, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
Ah, now I get it, hehe – Harry–Hairy! (Are those two pronounced exactly the same, or just similarly?) –St.nerol (talk) 18:10, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
I think he should be called "Hairy", not Harry: attributing a random real name to a character that the author himself didn't choose (like Megan or Mrs. Roberts) is likely to bring up issues, whereas calling him in a way that simply reflects how he's drawn (like Cueball, Black Hat, Ponytail and all the rest) just goes in direct line with what is done in the source; and it's self-explanatory in the description, it does not require the reader to be accustomed to the habits of this wiki (currently, reading "Harry" out of nowhere is quite uncanny). So, since it works pretty well here, let's call him Hairy. - Cos (talk) 19:30, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. Let's wait for the name to go through before messing with the edits further. Cornarias (talk) 21:41, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
See explain xkcd:Community portal/Proposals#New character. Davidy²²[talk] 02:11, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 for Hairy (or Curly?) -1 for Harry. Cueball, Black Hat, etc are descriptions, not names. 23:13, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

Beret Guy is right, a day of Pickup Art sounds like a lot of fun. Everybody pack their sketchbooks, pastels and watercolours, wander around town till they find interesting vignettes or vistas, everyone sketch and paint without showing each other till picnic time. At PT, all pull out their packed lunches and eat and enjoy each other's efforts. He'll, this sounds 1000% better than almost every pub outing I have ever had. 13:00, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

We could combine it with Geohashing. Curtmack (talk) 20:26, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
Too bad this comic appeared in winter, not summer (in the US at least). We could make Feb 25th "Pickup Art Day" with a pickup art meet at that day's geohash. It might not catch on if it's too cold, though. --DanB (talk) 22:09, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
I've always found the cold months to be more inspiring. 02:54, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

Nice comic but as a non-American I was not familiar with the "pickup" term used in basketball. Perhaps next time include some temperature jokes in Fahrenheit to throw us right off. :) 07:38, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

I still can't tell whether he's being sarcastic or not. --Dalonacueball (talk) 16:31, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

What can we learn from this?

I've learned that it's fruitless to ask others how to meet the love our out lives (our better half). Don't be a smart ass, and seldom am I as funny as I think I am. I can observe failures of others and I can try to learn from their mistakes. In the end it's necessary to be myself and figure out what I have to offer to the relationship in order to be successful. If a person is attractive and shallow they may offer a night of passionate sex, if a person is well off they may offer financial support in exchange for couple of hours of passionate sex, but if you represent who you are well, you may find someone to spend and improve the rest of your lives with together. - e-inspired 18:48, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

The way you wrote this is so awesome. Just wanted to let you know. -- 23:02, 8 September 2013 (UTC)