By Mark Peters
Twitter is a joke factory, where professional comics and civilian jesters crank out one-liners round the clock.
In that joke factory, there are popular models. Every day, new jokes play on phrases such as “Dance like no one is watching,” “Sex is like pizza,” and “When life hands you lemons.” While the repetition can be maddening, I’m impressed by how, inevitably, there’s always another good joke lurking in even the most tired formula. “Give a man a fish” variations are endless, but there’s always a fresh catch, like this tweet by Erikka Innes:
Give a fish a man, he eats for a day. Teach a fish to catch a man and OH MY GOD DON'T STEAL MY AWESOME IDEA FOR A HORROR MOVIE
Some formulas are seasonal. The arrival of 2013 brings variations of a formula I presume originated as a simple observation: “It’s X year, but I’m still writing X-1 year on my checks.” Some use the snowclone-like
formula to point out its own exhaustion:
I can't believe it's almost 2013! I'm still writing a popular joke construction on all of my checks!
I'm still writing hacky jokes on my checks.
Ugh, I'm still writing this joke format on all my tweets.
People write these kind of tweets about every joke formula, so I’d say pointing out hackiness has become its own form of hackery. Another option is using this format to comment on how checks have mostly gone the way of dinosaurs. This was a popular theme this year:
Still writing "nobody accepts checks anymore, ya stupid check" on all my checks
Ugh. I'm still writing "what is a check" on Twitter.
I’m still writing “WHY THE HELL IS THERE NO WAY TO PAY THIS ONLINE?” on all my checks.
When jokesters move beyond the world of checks by replacing the word check
, the humor gets more humorous:
Ugh, still writing 2012 on my death threats.
Dangit! I'm still writing "2012" on my suicide notes.
So embarrassing, I'm still writing 2012 on my boss's car with my keys.
Others keep the check part and replace 2012. In some cases, the subject matter stays close to the world of money, usually implying the tweeter is broke or a deadbeat:
It's 2013, but I'm still writing "This will bounce" on all my checks.
I'm still writing 112th Congress on my checks. (I don't have any money.)
Ugh! It's 2013 and I can't believe I'm still writing "Child Support, choke on it Denise" on all my checks.
Sometimes 2012 gets replaced with something a lot more creative:
It's January 3. I can't believe I'm still writing "I’ve always viewed the smoke break as the golf course of the creative class" on my checks
It's 2013, but I'm still writing "THE BLOOD OF MINE ENEMIES SHALL POUR DOWN LIKE RAIN" on my checks.
A double replacement adds more possibilities:
It's 2013 and I'm still writing "I want to go home" on all of my work emails.
Ugh. I’m still writing “2082” on all the specimen jars in my time machine.
And there’s plenty of room for absurd silliness, intriguing questions, and wordplay galore:
I'm still writing 2012 on allthsnarrgleflug HONK HONK
It's 2013 but hipsters are still writing 1890 on all their checks.
If you’re still writing 2012 on your cheques, the real question is, what’s with the British spelling?
I'm still writing "KONY 2012" on all my children.
"I'm still writing 2012 on all my Czechs." -Guy who likes writing on people from Central Europe
Love it or loathe it, this joke format will likely survive as long as we have years. Even in 3013, I bet we’ll still be writing “Please have sex with me” into the programming of our robots.
Mark Peters is a lexicographer, humorist, rabid tweeter, and language columnist for Visual Thesaurus. He also writes Lost Batman Tales. Read his previous OUPblog posts.
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