In 2002, three years on the heels of Star Wars prequel mania, nutty cutup John Byrne released Star Roars: The Outer Space Joke Book. It’s riddles and desperate Star Wars puns along with some generic astronomy and robot stuff, but it’s mainly adapted from the day he watched his family drown as they said, “This is what all joy turns into. Never let go of this terrible suffering for even a moment.” It was a terrible mistake to read.
This is an example of one of John’s better puns. He bet on you finding it funny how turnips have a syllable in common with a different word, and sure, that’s a bad bet and a miserable way to live your life, but there was no outrageous stretch of linguistics to make the pun work. As you’ll soon see, he often changes five or six syllables in a word to squeeze one last pun from his tired mind. He has no problem making many more space vegetable stews out of Celerybacca or R2Rosemary2 and Jabba the IDon’tKnowFuckinPotatoIGuess. He writes jokes like it’s a game of Boggle and you can just add an “s” to the last one and it counts. Each sad variation of the same pun is a view into the witless struggle of his writing process. It is the children’s joke book equivalent of adding slightly different toilets to a 1,001 Best Places to Fuck guide.
This isn’t really fun; it’s more like a touching thing to say to your dying robot whom you’ve never called “friend” before. It shoots way past humorless to be truly sad. This man, John Byrne, sat down to write cute Star Wars jokes and ended up just pouring his loneliness onto the page. It’s nothing but violent, unexpected grief, like a wedding singer pulling the pin out of a grenade and saying, “No one will remember u–.”
John… I mean, we’re sort of splitting hairs, but the 4th is three days away from the practical joke day in April. Why not say “On April Force day?” It’s bad and wrong still, yes, but it’s pretty much the same number of incorrect letters and it could really punch this joke up from a “huh?” to a “go fuck yourself.” I get you’re going for disappointed groans, but this is just the least funny way to ask your audience to explain calendars.
C3-Hoho and Laugh2D2 describe themselves as, and I quote, “the funniest robots in outer space (although we don’t actually spend much time in space – most of our time is spent in the repair shop, ‘cos we’ve split our sides laughing!)”. They never interact or play off each other. They are merely names pasted in front of 8 or 9 of the standard riddle structure jokes that make up most of the book. Neither of them are the straight man or known for any personality traits. They add less than nothing. C3-Hoho and Laugh2D2 are a stop sign writer’s idea of zany characters.
An as-droid? Motherfucker did you just write “ass droid” as a punchline and expect the joke recipient to think it was funny not because the moon is home to some kind of droid for your ass but because the word “asteroid” was missing a “ter?” This is criminal comedic negligence. Your wife could show this to a judge to demonstrate your children are in an unsafely joyless environment. And when the stenographer giggles, the judge will stop the proceedings to say, “No, Gladys. The defendant meant A-S-dash-droid, like an asteroid without a ter. Not a butt robot.” And poor Gladys will spend the rest of the day, the rest of her life, scowling at you, you fuck. You as-droid fuck.
Who can forget the hilarious connection vampires have to full moons? Like the great Martin Scorsese said while making Apocalypse Now, “An apple away keeps the dentist gay– take it from me, Steven Speilberg!”
I get this zaniness was built backwards from a simple man going, “Let’s see… Empire Strikes… Black? Banana? Bank? Bok-bok-bakaw? Wait, bok? Bach! Like the musician!!!” But why bother writing a full movie treatment? This asshole is perfectly content asking you to jump right into a bizarre premise like a Jedi making vegetable stew or a moon rock fucking a robot, but in this case he needed to establish a plot line for his film about space hunters going after Johann Sebastian Bach? Don’t mistake this constructive criticism, though; John. You should burn this joke, John. There’s no salvaging “The Empire Strikes Bach.” You have the comedic instincts of a dusty skeleton being ignored by vultures and the self-editing skills of one of the vultures saying, “I’ve got a bone to pick with this chef!”
I… holy shit, I don’t hate this one.
From the writer of “as-droid” comes a joke hoping to find that sweet spot of cognitive development between “able to talk” and “old enough to learn contempt.” If a policeman asked, “What’s the smelliest planet in space?” he’d get a bigger laugh if the punchline was, “I can’t do this. We found your wife dead.”
A hoarse-tronaut? What the shit is a hoarse-tronaut? If you’re going to cheat at your wordplay, why not just GeeIFeelSick-onaut or NoneOfThisMattersI’mBankingOnYouBeingFour-onaut. Plus, they’re in space. You get a cold in space, you’re not a cute pun. You’re Robitussor, The Virus Who Walks As a Man. And I don’t want to keep telling you how to be a shitty asshole, John, but astroSNOT was right there, and it wouldn’t have required you to shatter your spine stretching for the pun.
Well, sure, the six-eared alien probably has good hearing, but you’re still calling him, John. There’s no circumstances where this joke lands, John. The dumbest child on the first day knowing what an ear is would respond to this with, “Aren’t you… I mean, that’s just calling him. Jesus Christ, man, what are you doing here. Why are you doing this to yourself? You know you can get rid of some of these ideas when they don’t pan out, right? You want a joke? Here’s one: this book reminds me of your mother– tired, but still incoherently sucking.”
Are you sure that’s what he had, John? A Darth attack? In what Illuminati-conspiracy-rotted brain does the word “Darth” seem like a play on the word “Heart?” A Sith lord is in critical space condition and you’re sitting around inventing some new kind of pun that doesn’t use similar letters, sounds, or themes? This isn’t a pun or a zany wisecrack. This is the only incorrect response to the phrase, “Someone here is a shapeshifter. Say something in coherent Earth or I shoot you in the face.”
You know how the robot from Luke Skywalker’s pottery class knew this article was done? Just Luke-y, I dress! Thanks for everything, space!