6: Irony

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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It's commonly known that too much perspective can be a downer.
Title text: It's commonly known that too much perspective can be a downer.


Cueball makes a true statement, that his statement is not very funny. However, because he invoked irony and thus makes it self-referential, the sentence is now funny! The other guy (also a Cueball-like character), producing a fake laugh, is probably not so sure that it is actually funny.

Now going meta: In 20,000 years, there might be no more humans on earth to find the irony funny anymore. How ironic! Alternatively, the barren landscape would have occurred regardless of whether someone made the joke, so ironically, the cautionary tale is completely meaningless, although still funny.

This is the first xkcd comic showing stick figure people, which eventually becomes a defining characteristic of the future comic series. It is thus also the first comic with Cueball (and the first with Multiple Cueballs). Note however, that it was actually not the first comic Randall released using either of the above mentioned features, see the trivia below.

The "too much perspective" line comes from the visit of Spın̈al Tap to the grave of Elvis Presley. In addition, the perspective theme also invokes the Total Perspective Vortex in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This is located on the desolate planet Frogstar B, possibly looking not unlike the final image in the comic.

Self-references was already used again in 33: Self-reference, and again and again, but never more famously than in 688: Self-Description.


[A panel only with text. The last text is written below a line in all capital letters.]
When self-reference, irony, and meta-humor go too far
[Cueball talks to to his Cueball-like friend.]
Cueball: This statement wouldn't be funny if not for irony!
[Cueball laughs at his own joke in front of his friend.]
Cueball: ha ha
Friend: ha ha, I guess.
[Again a panel only with text.]
20,000 years later...
[A desolate brown badlands landscape with an imposing red sun in the dark blue sky.]


  • This was the 9th comic originally posted to LiveJournal.
  • This comic kept its original title: "Irony"
  • Original Randall quote: "Too much perspective can do that."
  • This was one of the thirteen first comics posted to LiveJournal within 12 minutes on Friday September 30, 2005.
  • This comic was posted on xkcd when the web site opened on Sunday the 1st of January 2006.
    • It was posted along with all 41 comics posted before that on LiveJournal as well as a few others.
    • The latter explaining why the numbers of these 41 LiveJournal comics ranges from 1-44.
  • One of the original drawings drawn on checkered paper.
  • First comic featuring Cueball in the current order the comics are now presented on xkcd.
    • But originally there where a few comics released earlier which featured Cueball, both the original LiveJournal number 7, 13: Canyon and number 6, 24: Godel, Escher, Kurt Halsey, used Cueball and thus stick figures as well as Multiple Cueballs before this came out, see this Trivia.

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You can definitely see an improvement in these comics as Randall learns to clean drawings and form a proper punchline. Davidy22[talk] 14:07, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

I think this explanation is incomplete. Benjaminikuta (talk) 03:41, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

There is a community portal discussion of what to call Cueball and what to do in case with more than one Cueball. I have added this comic to the new Category:Multiple Cueballs. Since there is really only one Cueball that "talks" I think it is fine to keep him as Cueball. Just made a note that the other guy also looks like Cueball. Also noted that this is the first comic both with Cueball and with Multiple Cueballs --Kynde (talk) 17:06, 15 March 2015 (UTC)