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No. 2958: Fixed In-joke Theatre

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Fixed In-joke Theatre

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Strip by: David Morgan-Mar

TV: So one accountant says to the other, "Remember what Johnson entered into the ledger that one time?"
TV: Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Garfield: I don't get it.
TV: This has been "Inside Joke Theatre".
Garfield: Figures.

The author writes:

As pointed out in the forums, the original strip simply uses two puns, rather than any actual inside joke. As Wikipedia says:

An in-joke, also known as an inside joke or a private joke, is a joke whose humour is understandable only to members of an ingroup, that is, people who are in a particular social group, occupation, or other community of shared interest. It is an esoteric joke that is humorous only to those who are aware of the circumstances behind it.

This means that to be an inside joke, the humour in the joke must be understandable only to the particular group in question - in this case, accountants. Since the joke in the first panel consists entirely of a couple of puns using accounting terms that many, if not most, people outside the occupation of accounting are familiar with, it does not qualify as an inside joke - even if cats such as Garfield are apparently not familiar with the accounting terms in question.

To turn this into a real inside joke, we must substitute a joke that only accountants will get. Or better yet, a joke that only some small group of accountants, such as the ones who work at a particular accounting firm in a major metropolitan city, would get, as it refers explicitly to one of their own work colleagues.

The TV's line in panel 1 is now a true inside joke - one that only a few dozen people at most will understand and appreciate. This makes Garfield's reaction all the more believable, as no longer is he apparently ignorant of the financial use of two common English words or the humour inherent in their use as puns related to accounting, but he is once again the savvy cat we know him to be, albeit ignorant of this one particular inside joke, since he does not happen to work at the same accounting firm as the characters on the TV screen.

Thus removing all humour for the general reader from the comic, we have thereby made it substantially better.

Original strip: 1997-05-07.