Herb and Jamaal and Crankshaft, 6/5/09
I admit to regularly being irritated at or contemptuous towards Herb and Jamaal, but until today I don’t think I’ve ever been just outright puzzled. The stumbling point to me is that the strip appears to actually have two jokes in it — and this is not a feature that can spare the punchlines, if you get my drift. The first bit of ostensibly humorous material is that our Heart and Soul patron needs a “drink,” and so he orders … root beer, haw haw, it’s because, I don’t know, it’s unexpected? He’s young and/or a teetotaler? Anyway, once that bombshell’s been delivered, we still have two panels left to go, so we’ll wrap up with a “two heads are better than one” joke, which must only be conveyed via thought balloon, because it would be unrealistic for such a mind-blowingly hilarious bit to be actually spoken aloud. (Ordering a beverage with lots of foam on top is, of course, totally realistic.) All I can figure is that the root beer was originally supposed to be actual beer, but the fuddy-duddies at the syndicate balked at the notion of an adult attempting to relieve stress by consuming a wholly legal mild intoxicant. Won’t somebody think of the children?
Crankshaft, meanwhile, delivers the old lady laughs, as Grandma Rose attempts to use another wholly legal mild intoxicant to while away the time until the blessed release of death (and perhaps even speed up the process). Everyone else in the cast will love this, because it allows them to express judgmental horror, which is pretty much their entire reason for existence. I look forward to coming months when, already bored with smoking, Rose makes Ed drive her downtown to score some smack.
Let me tell you something: if this becomes some sort of Belly Laffs– or CrySpace-style multi-day epic, there will be consequences. At least we’ll be able to look forward to whatever cutesy name they come up with for it. My suggestion: “Poopin’ in a bowl!”