6: Irony

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Original title: Irony
It's commonly known that too much perspective can be a downer.Original caption: Too much perspective can do that.
Title text: It's commonly known that too much perspective can be a downer.

Original caption: Too much perspective can do that.


This was the ninth comic originally posted to LiveJournal. The previous one was 8: Red Spiders, and the next one was 9: Serenity is coming out tomorrow. It was among the first thirteen comics posted to LiveJournal within 12 minutes on September 30, 2005, on the first day of the xkcd LiveJournal account.

Cueball makes a true statement, that his statement is not very funny. However, because he invoked irony and thus makes it self-referential, the sentence is now funny! The other guy Cueball, producing a fake laugh, is probably not so sure that it is actually funny.

Now going meta: In 20,000 years, there might be no more humans on earth to find the irony funny anymore. How ironic! Alternatively, the barren landscape would have occurred regardless of whether someone made the joke, so ironically, the cautionary tale is completely meaningless, although still funny. Self-references would be used again in 33: Self-reference and many more comics.

The title text is a reference to the visit of Spın̈al Tap to the grave of Elvis Presley. In addition, the perspective theme also invokes the Total Perspective Vortex in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This is located on the desolate planet Frogstar B, possibly looking not unlike the final image in the comic.


[A panel only with text. The last text is written below a line in all capital letters.]
When self-reference, irony, and meta-humor go too far
[Cueball talks to his Cueball-like friend.]
Cueball: This statement wouldn't be funny if not for irony!
[Cueball laughs at his own joke in front of his friend.]
Cueball: ha ha
Friend: ha ha, I guess.
[Again a panel only with text.]
20,000 years later...
[A desolate brown badlands landscape with an imposing red sun in the dark blue sky.]

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You can definitely see an improvement in these comics as Randall learns to clean drawings and form a proper punchline. Davidy22[talk] 14:07, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

I think this explanation is incomplete. Benjaminikuta (talk) 03:41, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

There is a community portal discussion of what to call Cueball and what to do in case with more than one Cueball. I have added this comic to the new Category:Multiple Cueballs. Since there is really only one Cueball that "talks" I think it is fine to keep him as Cueball. Just made a note that the other guy also looks like Cueball. Also noted that this is the first comic both with Cueball and with Multiple Cueballs --Kynde (talk) 17:06, 15 March 2015 (UTC)