July 2018: Two Point Hospital
Phil: I just wanted to mock the faux-outrage of UK tabloids by printing the phrase "ABSOLUTE STATE OF IT" on a page and build the joke around that.
Samuel: Sadly, a few of the real British tabloids are full of such awful shit that they're hard to parody. Good jokes here, though. The 'FAKE DISEASES' bit amuses me. 'Just 20 bronze!' is good also. This passes the Tony Ellis test of any All Over, which is to say it's immediately funny to look at. I mean, not overly so, but a bit.
August 2018: Forza Horizon 4
Phil: This is my favourite back page of the year, mostly because I went off to E3 and it just happened while I was away without me having to do anything or be tired and sad.
Pip: As the only member of staff with a driving licence, this ended up including entries ripped straight from my own grudge book as I complained to Andy about every single outrageous breach of decorum I have ever encountered on Reading’s Inner Distribution Road and the hell of hill starts in Bath. That Citroen AX with a defective fuel pump was my own beloved Drivatar for a while. It is now a cube somewhere in the commuter belt.
Andy: I think I was reading Alan Partridge’s brilliant, hilarious book ‘Nomad’ when I wrote this, and I was quite shamelessly channelling him. I just love taking the piss out of Britain and how crap it can be, even though I basically love it. I also included ‘Shitterton’ because I heard it in a Stewart Lee stand-up routine. I have no ideas of my own.
Samuel: Very good, I like this. Did the US readers get this one? And did they find it baffling as hell?
Pip: I feel like they could just laugh at Shitterton. Truly there is something for everyone.
September 2018: The Top 100
Phil: We normally do our best work for The Top 100 issue's back page. This time, we did not.
Andy: A bit high concept, this one. If you aren’t familiar with the absurd machine-generated shopfronts in The Crew 2, the joke will probably fly over your head. And even if you are familiar with it, it probably will too.
Phil: There are some funny lines here, and essentially it's just a framing for the annual Dragon Age 2 gag. But I have an irrational hatred of the brand of joke where someone just writes up some nonsense and claims "an AI did it". To counter that, I did genuinely feed the entire Top 100 into a Markov text generator, and then selectively picked out the most legible sentences. Incidentally, I used the Markov text generator hosted on the webpage of Doctor Nerve—"a rock band that has been annihilating the boundaries between rock, metal, improvisation, jazz, and experimental music since 1983." The internet is amazing sometimes.
Samuel: The Top 100 gets harder to reflect in joke form every damn year. I don't think it's possible to top last year's cut-and-paste internet opinions gag (opens in new tab)—and indeed, you don't quite get there. When it's a riff on the entries themselves it's always a challenge. 'Regency Nidhogg' is the highlight. Those words make the idea worthwhile. Maybe if I was an AI, I'd get the gag more.
Phil: This is like having a teacher mark my homework.
Samuel: C-, see me.