Uncyclopedia:Pee Review/John Major

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edit John Major

Zarbag 14:29, August 12, 2010 (UTC)

I've made a bit of a start on this and will finish it before pee week ends. --Black Flamingo 10:44, September 18, 2010 (UTC)
Humour: 6 Ok, this is the oldest request here so I guess I'll get it. I've read this article a couple of times now and there really is some surprisingly good stuff in it. Before you go any further however, I think I've identified a few things you might want to take a look at.

A lot of the jokes in here are pretty good, and I did find myself chuckling a few times. However, what it really lacks is consistency. You employ many different styles of humour here and as a result the article feels a bit scattergun. I strongly advise you to reign in some of these differing styles and settle on one clear path. For example, sometimes your jokes are satirical, like the mocking of Major's handling of Bosnia and his traffic cone phone line. Other times the humour is sillier, surreal, like the stuff about Thather killing people and front benchers playing Sega Megadrives. The two styles kind of cancel each other out don't you think?

The article also suffers from silliness, or random humour. A lot of it, like the list of things he's been mistaken for, is just outright nonsense. While I have nothing against this style of humour per se, it is very difficult to make it funny, and is something we see all too often on this site. Jokes like the pea thing and claims that he became PM because people kept imagining he was only serve to make this more nonsensical. Try to avoid stuff that is so far from reality, because your reader will struggle to accept it. I don't know if you've read How to be Funny and not just Stupid, but I find it is an invaluable guide to writing for Uncyclopedia. A major problem with this kind of humour is that you don't really go into detail, and simply rush through the jokes. This makes it appear even more random. The part where you say he's the reincarnation of William Gladstone for instance, sounds silly, but if you went into detail about how he is like Gladstone it might make more sense. This is true for all of your sillier parts, the affairs, the Graham Norton references, and everything else. If ever you come to a part where there isn't any further detail you can go into, then I'd recommend you lose the joke altogether.

As I think I've said, this brand of humour is not only cheap but also tends to be a little overdone on here. There are many cliches I would recommend you avoid in future, the "citation needed" jokes being one such example. These really only work when the humour is satirising the encyclopaedic format itself. In an article that is supposed to be satirising a public figure, they seem a little out of place. The opening quotes are another example, I always advise less experienced writers to try and turn their opening quotes into proper jokes in the main body of the text, unless the joke would simply work no other way. Generally, having more than one opening quote is met with scorn amongst the userbase, especially if they're a bit random or silly like these ones. I would recommend you try what I say above, making them into proper jokes. If you do take a look at HTBFANJS, you will see that the whole "mysterious origins" thing is also a cliche to avoid. Don't say "we know little" about him or "nobody knows what John Major did until the late 80s" (by comparison, a real encyclopaedia wouldn't say this, it would just leave it out). The final cliche is something I call namedropping. You don't have a major problem with it, although you do fall into the trap a little, but it's basically where you make pointless references to unrelated individuals. In your case, there's Jeremy Beadle and Francisco Franco, among others. The problem with humour like this is that it's kind of lazy. Those names could belong to anyone. There's very little thought behind it. Remember, you're supposed to be satirising Major here, not just making random stuff up.

Ok, after all that let's take a look at what you do right. In the Bosnia section, your article really picks up. This section, and the following one on traffic cones are actually pretty good. Even if the cone hotline thing isn't real (which I'm not sure about) it's funny - let me explain why. Both of these sections portray Major as a useless, boring and totally out of touch English stereotype (the character he is famous for being, in other words). It is much more effective than making up random things about him. Humour of course is best when you don't see it coming, but it also has to follow some kind of logical pattern otherwise it just becomes nonsense. But here, you mock how oblivious he was to the real world, and how his ministerial efforts were largely pointless. This is good. This is the kind of thing you should be focussing on should you come to revise it. Silliness in itself isn't bad, just make sure it's relevant, and that it all adds to the building of the article. Think of the article as one long joke, because that's what they are, really. With the BASIC section, I see what you're doing and it is kind of funny, but the references are pretty obscure so you might want to explain it better. On the other hand, it is a tad silly, not really in line with the popular conception of Major. If you'd like an example of what I'm talking about here, take a look at this. Note how it takes the reader's expectations of that celebrity's persona and exagerrates it for humour.

To finish up on humour, I'll just say that the dustball joke is a fairly lame way of ending this, in my opinion. If you really want to keep it I'd try to think of a more original way of using it. I would probably advise against it all together, but verbal references to tumbleweeds might be ok. This is a word-based article after all (aren't most of them?).

Concept: 5 The main thing you want to do here is focus your characterisation of Major, as like most of the other things in the article, it's a tad all over the place. At times you go for the "grey knight" character we all know, and other times you portray him as an unhinged and foul-mouthed philanderer. While I think the idea that he seized power in a coup d'etat is pretty funny, it is a stark contrast to the way you describe him in the rest of the article. I'm not going to tell you exactly where to go with this, but you basically have to settle on one image of Major. The well-known characterisation of him being dull and ineffective would probably be easiest, especially since the core of your article treats him this way. Also, simply saying the opposite of the truth is rarely funny, so if you did go for anything else you would have to be very careful that you don't get too silly (which in the article's current form, happens quite a bit).
Prose and formatting: 6.5 While your spelling, grammar and prose are actually pretty excellent, the tone of your article is as inconsistent as the humour and concept. You seem to flit between scorn, sarcasm and silliness and random intervals. The more over the top emotions don't really work here, I feel it would be best to be as dry as possible. The parts where you use exclamation marks, for instance, are weak, but could be much better if you just removed the exclamation mark. Do it in a more reserved, typically encyclopaedic way to maximise the humour, which when good is mostly political. For example, when you say "in this naturally-competitive marketplace everyone benefited!", you could reign back the scorn, and just say "people generally benefitted from the privatisation of the rail companies, especially those who were injured and killed due to the lax safety introduced to save money." This is pretty much exactly what you say originally, but I hope you can see how it is funnier this way. You're not being outwardly hateful towards Major, but just presenting the facts so the reader can make up their own minds (invariably, of course, they will side against him). It's also more consistent this way, as most of your article is fairly encyclopaedic.

Apart from that, there is the odd bit of confusion in your prose. The stuff about the railways was probably the only issue I had, I couldn't really follow the first few sentences (the bit that dealt with his motivation for privatisation). You might want to just have another look at this and try clearing it up. Don't be afraid to take your time to explain things, no one will mind is you're serious for a few sentences if it sets up a good joke.

Images: 5 Right, let's go through them one at a time. The first image is a decent start; it's big and it works well to introduce the reader to who John Major is. Conversely, you probably need to work on the caption. While references to pop culture are fine, it's the wording that's the main issue - it totally contrasts with the tone in the rest of the article, even in the inconsistent state it's in now. The advice I gave you in the humour section is just as relevant when it comes to pictures, especially the captions, so just remember to stay consistent with that.

The second image is ok too. Again it's not inherently funny in itself but you do much better work with the caption. The caption does, of course, portray Major as the total opposite of how the public perceive him, so depending on which path you go down you might want to change it. With captions, I personally think the consistency rules aren't quite as strict as they are with prose (an inconsistent caption doesn't interrupt the flow in the same way an inconsistent bit of prose would, for example), so even if you go with the boring characterisation, this caption might still work as it is.

The third image is the same; plain, but made funny by a good caption. This was probably one of the biggest laughs for me when I read the article, so all I really have to say here is well done.

The images are a little less effective after this. The time travelling one, again, is a little silly. If there were some clever satirical joke at work here such an image would be ok. But there isn't, and as a result it just seems random. Same with the one portraying Mrs. Major as a traditional African woman, really.

Miscellaneous: 5.6 Your average score.
Final Score: 28.1 Right, so the key thing to do here is lose some of the silliness and get back to realism. John Major is a hugely silly man anyway, so just remember to keep this silliness relevant. Also, try to find more of a direction for your article. You're already leaning towards one, but by working on the inconsistencies you can really strengthen it. Overall, a fairly funny piece that I'm sure you'll be able to shape up with not too much work. If you want me to take at look at any changes or if you want help with something more specific that I don't mention here, then please let me know and I'll see what I can do. Good luck with this.
Reviewer: --Black Flamingo 18:42, September 18, 2010 (UTC)
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