This is one of those jokes that works perfectly serviceably as it’s presented here — essentially a verbal joke, describing something after the fact, with Shoe and the Perfesser in the particular setting for color. Can you imagine how vivid it would’ve been if we had seen the whole thing unfold, though? Just think about it: the assembled mourners, each quietly contemplating mortality in their own way, the ceremony unfolding with predictable solemnity, until that first time when the mortician and his aides try, and fail, to lower the casket into the grave. The first time a corner just barely bumps into the freshly disturbed earth to the side of the newly dug pit, the mortician mutters something to his assistants, the casket is lifted up again for another attempt, no one feels like they need to say anything or draw attention to this little gaffe. But then: attempt after attempt to inter the coffin with dignity fails. Maybe the machinery used to lower the coffin sputters and noisily seizes up. Maybe the mortician trips and drops one of the cords, causing the casket to dip precariously. Maybe, somehow, the casket is accidentally lowered into place perpendicular to the direction the grave was dug, causing much squabbling, and not muttered, this time. As the ceremony goes further and further off the rails, some in attendance begin quietly weeping, seeing Ernie’s memorial service transformed into a ghastly farce; others, perhaps those not part of the immediate family or more attuned to the irony of the situation, begin to chuckle under their breath, and remark to each other that Ernie would no doubt get a good laugh out of all this. Still, even these mourners have a hard time holding it together when, without it ever being quite clear why, the coffin tumbles once more onto the ground, this time popping open and revealing the deceased’s mortal remains, no longer arranged in a pose of dignified slumber but now twisted horribly to remind everyone that one day death will come to them and rob them of everything they have, even dignity. Ernie is roughly bundled back into his coffin, which is finally, blessedly, lowered to its final resting place on the seventh try, but it’s too late: the widow, hysterical with grief, has to be physically restrained from assaulting the mortician; lawsuits have been threatened, careers have been ended. In the end, the drama has moved elsewhere, leaving only Shoe and the Perfesser at the gravesite, cracking wise to cover up how completely shell-shocked they are at what they just saw.
Gil Thorp, 9/30/16
Welp, looks like we’ve got our football season A and B plots set: Heather the soccer-player-turned-trainer is going to provide unpaid, unrequested coaching of the kind that helps/undermins Gil and Kaz every three or four storylines, and Kevin Pelwecki, who is an offensive lineman or some similar position that I’m not going to bother looking up, is going to have his dreams of playing quarterback utterly shattered, as today he proves completely inept at the most basic of quarterbacking tasks. I have to admire the strip for managing to deliver a one-panel version of the hilarious failure montage we’d get if this were a TV show or movie. Sad to see that Kevin’s plan to replace his jersey number with a lightning bolt to denote his near-divine superstar status was a bit premature!
Rex Morgan, M.D., 9/30/16
Aww, isn’t that cute! Rex’s nickname for his daughter is “punkin’”! He calls her this because her head roughly the size and shape of a pumpkin.