This is another comic in a series related to the 2020 pandemic of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
As more and more people are getting vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus, and as the CDC released guidelines suggesting vaccinated people can start gathering in larger groups, including some groups of unvaccinated people, there is increasing excitement about the possibility to resume get-togethers, and have a party. However, being very cautious, Randall is detailing the plans for his first "post-pandemic" party by cutting it down from the scope of a normal party. Some of the cut-downs may make sense from a health safety standpoint, others are less likely to be health-based and may be just to deliberately make the party boring, thus limiting attendance, with the effect of it being safer for the few who do come.
Instead of soda and various alcoholic beverages, he's opting for small glasses of water. Alcoholic beverages could encourage a lowering of inhibitions, help some participants to make bad social decisions, to the detriment of hygiene and reasonable social distancing. Soda would have less of that problem, though some might argue the sugar or caffeine might have some similar effect. Drinking alcohol immediately after vaccination may "accelerate" allergic reaction according to an article on WebMD 
Instead of traditional party foods like pizza, nachos, and snacks, only three individual pieces of candy (M&Ms) and one cracker will be provided. Pizza could be a health issue as people reach into a common pizza box to grab their slice, and likewise snacks if they are in communal bowls. Another possible motive for such meager offerings is the concern that people may have gained weight due to more sedentary lifestyles while staying home a lot more during the pandemic, so he didn't want them eating a lot of fattening snacks and drinks at his party.
Instead of music and karaoke singing and watching sports, the only music allowed will be ambient music, such that it would be hardly noticeable, and the only entertainment being displayed will be Bob Ross, who was famous for his very calm, low-key, painting lessons. (Painting could be followed by watching paint dry, one of the few activities even more boring than this party.) Music, singing, and reacting to exciting sports games can cause a lot more movement and airborne particles with the potential of spreading the virus.
Board games, video games, ping pong, and good conversation are already relatively low-key activities, but not low-key enough. The only two games allowed will be 3-card pickup (trimmed down from 52-card pickup, which would typically use a full deck of 52 cards), and a single video game, the ancient "Pong" game. Also, while conversation will be allowed, it will not be "good conversation", presumably preferring the conversation to be boring or uninteresting, or even repulsing. It might also be that Randall anticipates the pandemic will have worsened peoples' ability to converse normally, and so is saying that people won't be held to any 'standards' regarding the quality of their conversation.
The title text mentions that in the end, despite Randall's efforts, even the incredibly mild disruption of an M&M falling into a cup of water caused the party-goers to panic and flee, much as Cueball and Ponytail panicked at a meeting in spite of their precautions due to their highly-strung natures in 2330: Acceptable Risk.
- [The comic consists of four underlined headings, two by two grid, with three times four and one time three lines of text beneath each. Almost all of the original lines of text has been crossed out with red, sometimes only partial. And five new items have been added in red, plus some brackets and one arrow. Even one of the red texts have been crossed out]
- Wine Small cups
Beer of ice water Cocktails
- Food Three M&Ms
Pizza and a saltine
Nachos per person Various snacks
- Music (Ambient)
- Big screen TV
- Bob Ross
Board games 52 3-card pickup
- [3 is above 52]
- Video Games
- [A red arrow points from Video Games to Pong]
- [Caption below the panel:]
- We're planning our first post-vaccine party, but we want to start slow.
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I'm pretty sure the joke of the comic is about the excitement of the party, as people aren't used to exciting things such as good conversation anymore. If this is a post-vaccine party, there shouldn't be any worry about covid safety. 188.8.131.52 16:41, 18 April 2021 (UTC)
Okay, I started it. Join in and make it better! -boB (talk) 17:26, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
- I thought that the party food and beverages were reduced to small cups of ice water and m&m as we gained weight over months of staying home. It looks like the list was made earlier in the pandemic when this was not a problem (yet). And now the list has changed since al lot of people gained weight. But pizzas and snack can contribute to the spread of the virus. For the rest I understand it like you N0lqu. mkljun 18:56, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
- Thanks, I added that! -boB (talk) 18:19, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
Ping-pong should be a reasonably safe activity. A standard table is 9 feet long, so the players are forced to social distance. And unless you play at expert levels, it's not so energetic that you'll breathe heavily. Barmar (talk) 19:27, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
- My employer padlocked the door to our ping-pong room because people apparently couldn't mask and play at the same time. 184.108.40.206 13:33, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
I think this is more about how exciting the party is than about COVID precautions. These are all toned-down versions of regular party stuff. 220.127.116.11 21:08, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
Still missing an explanation regarding the crossing out of "Big screen" in front of "TV". A small TV would actually be counterproductive, as folks would need to crowd around it in order to see it well, thus reducing social distance. 18.104.22.168 21:37, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
- Answer is in the comment above yours. No one has been to a party in a year, and the idea is to "start slow" and keep the party from being overwhelming to people who have been isolating for a long time. I don't get the title text, though... Orion205 (talk) 22:38, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
The COVID vaccine works by making your immune system kick in hard. At a panel presentation on COVID, a doctor was saying that fever, muscle aches, nausea, or other flu-like symptoms are to be expected after injections. It’s a good sign that the vaccine is working. The party list makes a little more sense if people were expected to be feeling mildly ill from the vaccine. —brad
I didn't initially read it as boring for the sake of safety, just boring because nobody has been to a party for a year and would find it harder to cope with the excitement. 22.214.171.124 09:08, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
- This explains the title text, too. 126.96.36.199 20:55, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
I think the joke is that we are being told we can increase social activity but not to increase it "too much". So we could have a gathering but not as big a gathering as before. The reduction is supposed to be targeted to specific activities that might risk contagious spread. However, the joke is that the person planning this party is reducing activities just for the sake of "downsizing" the party whether the activities are related to contagious spread or not. For example, watching TV on a small screen versus a big screen. The title text furthers the joke, that we have been conditioned to be fearful of trivial encounters that do not increase contagious risk (like briefly passing someone outdoors who is not wearing a mask even if we have a mask on) so something as innocuous as dropping a candy in a glass of water caused a panic. Rtanenbaum (talk) 19:10, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
- There are a few ways that could scare or upset people, from the similarity of dropping medicine in a cup of water, to the danger of getting splashed by someone elses cup of water and catching their contagion that way. 188.8.131.52 21:23, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
- Exactly my point. This is so unlikely to actually cause contagion that it should not cause the attendees to "panic and scatter". And that's the joke. Rtanenbaum (talk) 00:14, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
- The thing with Diet Coke and Mentos crossed my mind, since this incident does not involve Diet Coke and does not involve Mentos, but it easily COULD have. :-) [email protected] 184.108.40.206 22:36, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
- I think this is missing the point. The point of this "cautious" party is not to reduce the risk of contagion (that is just a positive side effect) but just to get used to party again. The drop of the candy into the water causes no panic because it might be dangerous but because it is exciting (relatively speaking). With that explanation even the small TV makes sense. As already mentioned a smaller TV is bad in sense of preventing infection due to the need of being closer to it and as a result closer to others who also want to watch Bob Ross. But from a "entertainment value" or "excitement value" point of view a small TV is "safer" than a big one. So the point of this is not (primarily) to prevent contagion but just to getting used to being together in one (physical) room again. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 09:47, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
Academic research on paint drying -- https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160318090817.htm apparently it is exciting enough to be grant-funded.--220.127.116.11 01:39, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
This is a joke. It is funny. Haha. Laugh. Hilarious. 18.104.22.168 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I think this needs rework. Isn't the point (among some other things) of a transcript to "show" some visually impaired people what this is all about with the help of a screen reader? The current transcript doesn't seem to do that. I don't know HOW these exactly work, but I THINK the current transcript would lead to something like that: "<underlinded>Drinks; <striked through> Soda, Wine; <red> Small cups; <striked through> Beer; <red> of ice water [...]". Or am I wrong? Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 12:03, 17 March 2021 (UTC)