The webcomic with the rotating taglines.
Following a puzzled response from a forum member to our page "Ryan North's Jokes Explained Explained" Explained, another forum member, xyzzy, responded with the following helpful explanation:
Meta-humour is defined as humour about humour; one prevalent example is this popular haiku:
Haiku are easy
But sometimes they don't make sense
The joke here is one about the structure of haiku and how the strictly-defined rules can make some haiku feel very strange.
In "Ryan North's Jokes Explained Explained" Explained, meta-humour is used to explore the ways meta-humour can be used; this could in fact be called meta-meta-humour, as it focuses on what makes meta-humour enjoyable.
One of the key issues with meta-humour is that it is often only funny to a subset of the potential reader base. For instance, one not familiar with the way meta-humour works probably wouldn't enjoy Randall Munroe's comic entitled Schrodinger if they didn't understand that meta-humour is only funny when one understands the key concept involved—this is in fact meta-meta-humour about what makes meta-meta-humour potentially funny, making it meta-meta-meta-humour.
All this recursiveness makes the potential for unenjoyable jokes all the greater. Consider the following meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-humouristic joke:
This joke is meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-humouristic.
If you didn't find this joke amusing, don't be too surprised. In order to find n-meta-humour funny, one must understand (n-1)-meta-humour—in Ryan North's Jokes Explained the key to understanding the humour involved is understanding that it's inherently unfunny to explain why a joke is funny and yet inherently funny to explain why a joke is not funny. My joke relies on knowledge of a level of meta-humour most people don't understand, so it's not easily accessible to the average reader.
This concept can be understood with a type of meta-humour often explored with the following type of joke:
These jokes rely on rhetorical questions about the nature of the world that are funny in themselves because they question the nature of their subjects, such as ATMs or black boxes. Understanding that this is the source of the humour is thus necessary to understand the meta-humour present in redundant responses such as:
In a non-meta-humour sense, these statements provide logical explanations for the seeming contradictions posed by the rhetorical questions, thus in some sense spoiling the jokes. But these statements become funny when one understands that questioning the logic behind a joke is just as illogical as questioning the logic behind a drive-up ATM or a black box, and that the exact same process is involved in both concepts.
Meta-humour relies on processes like these. Ryan North's Jokes Explained Explained focuses on how explaining jokes is a process that makes them unfunny and how this process is used to make Ryan North's Jokes Explained funny. "Ryan North's Jokes Explained Explained" Explained focuses on the meta-humour inherent in explaining why a process that can make a meta-joke funny can be funny if one understands that process. Understanding the nature of these processes is important to the structural stability of meta-humour, though, which is why I've attempted here to explain why meta-humour explaining why meta-humour is a humourous medium for exploring what makes meta-humour enjoyable is funny.
And that's why The Comic Irregulars' "Ryan's North's Jokes Explained Explained" Explained is funny.