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Video games are funny.

Video games are funny.

I like to laugh. Shocking admission there, I know. I like to laugh, I like to make people laugh and I like to be made to laugh. Watching, listening to and discussing comedy takes up an inordinate amount of my time, and video games are constantly finding new ways to lift me up and amuse me. The news of Ron Gilbert joining up with Tim Schafer at Double Fine reminded me of this fact.

While many are off on the search for ‘the Citizen Kane of games’, all I’m looking for is ‘the Airplane! of games’. I don’t think I’ve found it, but I’ve come close to it a few times. The throwaway lines that make me involuntarily spit my drink out. The experiences that make me laugh so hard it quite literally hurts. There are a lot of games hailed as funny that just don’t do it for me, but that doesn’t change the fact there are some hellishly funny examples on the market.

A fall-back response would be the output of Tim Schafer. One hand in The Secret Of Monkey Island means he’s heralded as a comedy God, but his funniest output really comes from Grim Fandango. It’s not just funny – to the point of spluttering out guffaws all over your keyboard – it’s quite smart with it, and certainly understated. It’s also a rare example of a game where the voice actors seem to understand they’re doing comedy, not idiocy.

Portal is a shining example of a genuinely funny game. It probably helps that the first time I played it I absolutely did not expect the humour to be present – in any form. Then it helps a wee bit more that it is indeed very funny. The harmless-sounding, friendly cries from the turrets that will only kill you should you show your face. And as for that song? Brilliant. Genuinely brilliant.

Uncharted 2? Alright, so it’s corny and you can see half of the jokes coming a mile off, but even that which emulates the witty banter of a Joss Whedon show is… well, emulating the witty banter of a Joss Whedon show. And that’s something I can get on-board with. Plus the clowns line at the end did make me guffaw, but there’s every chance I was a bit emotional right then.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day isn’t something I ever played for a long period of time, but it certainly surprised with what I saw of it. The subtle commentary on the socio-economic politicking involved in the trade agreements of… oh, no, wait – I meant ‘the poo song is funny’. Which it is.

Bishi Bashi Special – progenitor of the Wario Ware series – is the ridiculous TV show Banzai! in gaming form. It’s not witty, or clever, but it does involve shaking a can hard enough to send it into space, as well as Uncle Bean. If you don’t laugh at this game, you have no soul and should probably be shot.

Veering away to PC you have the glorious indie output of Zombie Cow Studios, with Ben There, Dan That still making me chortle every time I bother to play it. As for Privates? It’s certainly the funniest game I’ve ever played about STDs.

There are many more I can’t quite think of right now, and there are many more things out there that will make others laugh in a way they’d never make me laugh. It’s great that we see such a wide-ranging style of games available, and the sooner we get the true Airplane! of games, the better. And I reckon it’s only a matter of time.

I’m not about to analyse how things can be made funnier, or even make any suggestions as to how to improve it. No, I’m just pointing out that I really do think there are genuinely funny games. Because there are. The re-teaming up of Gilbert and Schafer, if previous records are to go on, could mean something for the improvement of comedy in gaming. And I look forward to what they produce.

*Let’s throw in a super-special secret late-edit entry for Sumotori Dreams, as the video posted in the comments yesterday made me laugh like a lunatic.

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