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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 11/21/2008

The Morning Line: Rhymes With "Riffy"

By Michael Cavna

RHYMES WITH ORANGE: Old gags? A consonant problem in comics. (KFS)Enlarge Comic

"Rhymes With Orange" so rankles us today, we're compelled to begin this week's awards with our honor that rhymes-with-Riffy: the lowly Miffy.

Most days, "Rhymes" delivers at least a warm smile, and we enjoy Hilary Price's loose line, which joyfully pays little mind to perspective. Today, though, there's a stale joke that makes us gag.

The "Wheel of Fortune" bit for vowel-challenged names is at least as old as Pat Sajak's addiction to the spray-on tan. Which is why seeing it in a comic feels as though the cartoonist came up empty that day and "punted." Please, creators: Even a bad fresh joke is preferable to one that long ago was played out.

As such, we suddenly feel a calling -- nay, a duty -- to offer the official Six 'Riffs Rules to Prevent Dinosaur Gags.

1. Cartoonists, if you've heard the joke once and feel compelled to "reinvent" it, please: Resist the urge. And if you do attempt this maneuver, let your comic editor be your guide.
2. If you've heard the joke twice, then: Just say no. Steer away from the trite.
3. If you hear the joke and it references Ben Franklin, Milton Berle or a rabbi and a priest, remember: You are so much BETTER than that.
4. If you write a gag and the person you bounce it off of says: "I think I heard that last week on 'Letterman,' " then alas -- they probably did. Avoid at all costs.
5. If you write a gag and your Bristol board immediately begins to mold and yellow, that's a sign.
6. If your grandparent or great aunt shouts the punchline before you finish sharing your "newly conceived" gag, odds are they are not psychic. Yes, the joke is THAT old.

Now, on to the Riffys for the week:

GET FUZZY: The feline king of the one-liners. (UFS)Enlarge Comic

FAVE LINE O' DIALOGUE: Darby Conley is ever-sharp as he voices Bucky Katt saying: "This isn't cat food. This is what you feed to cat food." We laughed heartily, convinced THIS wasn't an old line.

ZITS: One of the highlights of our week. (KFS)Enlarge Comic

FAVE ART (WITHIN ONE PANEL): In "Zits," the closeup of Pierce applying highlighter to teeth is a visual ode to the fine detail. Borgman&Scott have even marked the teeth. Bra-vo.

PEANUTS: Into every comic, a little rain must fall. (UFS)Enlarge Comic

FAVE ART (FULL STRIP): Our sentimental choice is "Peanuts." Or more precisely, the rain in "Peanuts." Because "Sparky" Schulz always said he was rather proud of how he drew raindrops.

By Michael Cavna  | November 21, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Old jokes.

1. I worked with a man who lost an eye in a small plane crash. He said he wanted to go on "Wheel of Fortune" so he could "buy an i".

2. Another co-worker eschewed salad by saying "salad is what food eats".

Yes, I work with people who are funnier than me.

I really liked today's Candorville follow-up to yesterday's CV.

And the best visual I found is today's "Bob the Squirrel:"

Bob (the squirrel) has been asked by Lauren (the kid) to pull her loose tooth. I love panel two!

And if you want a good line, check out the last panel of "The Meaning of Lila" (plot: Lila knew Drew's fiance was cheating on her)

Posted by: MAL9000 | November 21, 2008 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Given the tooth detail in Zits, isn't anyone disturbed by the fact that Pierce lacks nostrils?

Posted by: Sharbo | November 21, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

The punchline "Vegetables aren't food. Vegetables are what food *eats*!" was used in the "Shoe" strip (back when it was still printed in the Post) when a customer at Roz's diner ordered a steak with no side order.

The "buy a vowel" punchline seems especially tired nowadays, since the story arc that's been running for the last couple of months now (which seems like the last couple of years, of course) in the "Dick Tracy" strip features a battle between two giant robots who tlk lk ths, jst lk msgng on cl phns.

Posted by: seismic-2 | November 21, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Okay, the blog has shown that Darby wasn't so ORIGINAL with his joke. So what, I still laughed. Let him keep his Riffy.

Posted by: MSchafer | November 21, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

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