I Literally Love Robots

By JoCo September 2, 2008

One more thing about Penny Arcade: how awesome is this comic?


Colton David says

More awesome then words can describe.

tom says

same as the above :D
as good as usual (this is a RELLY good thing)

tabacco says

You also got namedropped at the end of the Strong Bad panel :)


tabacco says

You also got namedropped at the end of the Strong Bad panel :)


Strong Bad says hi!

tabacco says

Oh man, double post. Sorry about that :(

Scott says

Surprised it wasn't a robot monkey.
Mecha Monkey? Android Ape?

Scarybug says

So that's where Gabe was the whole time!

LuneOwl says

Gabe said during the PAX panel when he drew this that he'd considered putting JoCo in a bathrobe lounging in the doorway of the third panel, but they ran out of time. That would have been the icing on the cake!

Percephene says

I heard it was a pink bathrobe. Hawt!
I've been eagerly awaiting this comic since yesterday when it was hinted at and it was SO worth the wait!

Probably my most favourite PA comic EVER.

Neil says

don't get it. sorry. :-(

MarcyT says

You know you've arrived when...... ;)

Bill Igerent says

I would think that the best way to prove your literal love of robots (besides "acting" in robot porn of course) would be to finally write that Kraftwerk inspired song "We Love The Robots" that you've been putting off. You know that one you were thinking about writing that is kind of a cross between Computer Love and We Are The Robots! You know, because you thought you can't get more retro geek than Kraftwerk and it would really up your cred with the club kids at the same time. I really think you should do it. It's one of your better ideas.

Ruaidri says

Is there even a term for being in a threesome with a robot and a woman yet?

Bill Igerent says

Is there even a term for being in a threesome with a robot and a woman yet?

That would be "mécanique à trois"!

Scott says

Ruaidri: ask somebody who watches Battlestar Galactica.
My understanding is that they're all robots in disguise.

Merus says

I'd help out Neil, but honestly the effort required just to over-explain a joke? So not worth it.

But isn't that Felicia Day in the second panel?

Dave T says

I don't think it's Felicia in the second panel. However, judging from what she said in her blog about PAX, she probably wouldn't mind if it was. She did, after all, let Tycho groom her.

Michael Heron says

I have to say, I didn't get it either... but I think that the Young Lady in the second panel is Gabe's wife, which explain's Tyhco's disturbed reaction to Gabe's joy (that his wife was cool enough to be part of Such A Thing).

Paul R. Potts says

So the girl with no pants and the JoCo t-shirt, and the robot, were in the trailer with JoCo, but we never see JoCo come out? Maybe I'm too old to get this... it seems like a joke that doesn't really finish...

Katie C. says

So Awesome. Indescribably Awesome. Only slightly more awesome was actually being there, watching this strip come to life. :)

Percephene says

"I have to say, I didn’t get it either… but I think that the Young Lady in the second panel is Gabe’s wife, which explain’s Tyhco’s disturbed reaction to Gabe’s joy (that his wife was cool enough to be part of Such A Thing)"

Ooooh, the way I read it, it was a random red-head groupie and Gabe was in there too...
I think the red head looks a bit different to Gabe's wife...

Robert de Forest says

I read the last panel as Gabe coming out of the trailer too, making the festivities within at least a foursome if you count the robot. I thought the implication was that there were others inside too who still hadn't come out, besides JoCo himself.

Neil says

Well, I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who didn't get it. :-)

I mean it could be they were just using his trailer. JoCo never appears, right?

Could also be that the robot was an alien drone, went to JoCo's trailer, transported him to the mother ship, lured that female groupie into the trailer, had sex with her, and then let her out of the trailer only after impregnating her with his alien seed. I'm just sayin....

Noob says

The joke is all in what is being implied, if you don't get it, you mind is not dirty enough.

Neil says

Noob: I think this is the first time in my adult life that I've been accused of not having a dirty enough mind... ;-)

But, seriously, all the people who say it's just too hard to explain, or your mind's not dirty enough, or whatever else: I think you guys just don't get it, but you don't want to admit it.

You laughed at this and praised it, because it had some cute and dirty elements; but you didn't know *quite* what you were laughing at and praising.

So you're stuck with, "Well, if you don't get it, it's your fault," or, "It's too hard to explain." Because no one really knows what the fuck it's saying; but only some of us are honest enough to admit it! :-)

Cambiata says

I problems getting the joke too, but I think it would have been much more clear if they HAD included JoCo in the last panel in a bathrobe. Once that was pointed out, I suddenly got the joke.

Susie the Southern Geek says

Here is some art by a guy who understands Robot Love. Maybe he listens to JoCo too?


I want to hear the songs about robots and doughnuts!

Joke Explainer Johnson says

I agree. It's all in what is being implied and if you don't get it, your mind isn't dirty enough, you're not thinking about it enough, or you just aren't picking up the clues for some reason.

We know that there is sexual activity going on inside the trailer from Tycho's opening joke. Quoth Tycho: "Mr. Coulton? Um, I know your trailer is rocking, and I really shouldn't knock in this instance, but..."

This is a play on the following rusty old gem: "When the trailer's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'." The implied meaning: "Leave me alone. I'm having sex in there."

So we know from line one that sex is most likely taking place inside JoCo's trailer.

This is reinforced by the understanding that Penny Arcade is famous (infamous?) for its long history of serving up nerd humor mixed with dirty humor on a fairly regular basis.

Then the trailer opens and a parade of characters emerges. The first is most likely Felicia Day. (Note: It is not Tycho's Wife, Brenna. Although Brenna is also a red-head, she has been featured in the daily strip on several occasions and is drawn much differently. Specifically, cartoon Brenna has shorter hair, freckles, and glasses.) It is probably save to assume that the redhead is Felicia Day since 1) JoCo performed with her, 2) Felicia Day is a redhead, 3) She is known to be the object of many a nerd's sexual fantasy, 4) Tycho's recent semi-sexual language involving how much he would like to (and later what it was actually like) "groom her"

Furthermore, JoCo apparently has an intense love of robots. This makes the appearance of the robot funny since it could be interpreted as either 1) Just as nerds fantasize about Felicia Day, so do they fantasize about giant robots, or 2) Just as JoCo would take a woman to bed, so would he take a giant robot.

Either way it's funny.

The third panel I'll admit might be a little ambiguous, especially if you've never read PA before. The implication is that Gabe has emerged from the trailer after Felicia Day and the giant robot. In order to make that jump, you probably need some context from past PA strips. Specifically, Gabe has been the butt of these kinds of sexual jokes before (see the the semi-homo-erotic strips about Gabe's sexual fantasies involving spiderman or the time he got tricked into spending an evening looking at Yaoi). Also, Tycho has been shown time and again to have a taste for pornographic material that is so bizarre it can be difficult to imagine how it's even performed (e.g. ostrich-related porn sites on his in-game advertising, getting turned on by the thought of a giraffe's long, slender neck, etc).

So it makes sense that Gabe would emerge from the trailer in this instance, having been in a crazy sexual situation with Felicia Day, a robot, and Joco... and that Tycho would bite his lip, shed tears, and put on the puppy dog eyes... no doubt a result of his being jealous, despite being simultaneously disturbed.

This joke ruined for you by Joke Explainer Johnson.

Neil says

Cambiata: yeah, you're right. that does clear it up. And all those who were saying, "We get it; but it's just too hard to explain": all they had to say was, "JoCo had a three-way with a robot and a groupie in his trailer." End of story. So, clearly, it was something cool and nerdy and sexy to them; but I don't think they got it either. ;-)

Bill Cunningham says

Gabe was in on the girl/robot/gabe/joco action too. That's why he's thumbs-upping, and why Tycho is reacting to it like that.

Are we all so removed from rock&roll lore that someone knocking on a rock star's trailer, and having a string of groupies come out unexpectedly needs to be explained?

The strip is titled "JoConjugal Visit", and Tycho refers to "rockin'", as in the vererable caution: "If you see me rockin', don't bother knockin'" before he actually knocks.

Oh for the salacious days of my youth. This age has become too innocent.

Jake says

I believe it's "If the trailer's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'." Or maybe I just added the "a-"s because it makes it trashier.

I wasn't at the strip creation (couldn't get out of the office fast enough) but I knew what the groupie in the JoCo shirt meant. However, I thought the robot was built by Jonathan in order to take care of the groupies he doesn't have time to get to. Then Gabe was approving in the third panel, while Tycho looked on in shock. I didn't get that part until it was revealed as a 4-some. The strip doesn't make it clear that Gabe is exiting the trailer, or that Jonathan is even involved. If they had 4 or 5 panels, it would have been perfect. I understand they were in a bit of a time crunch though, and they are basically bound by the 3-panel format, so it's okay, I still love them and think the joke is funny.

Shade says

Is there a JoCo shirt? if not there needs to be!

Neil says

Bill: I thought Gabe was there as the videographer.... Just kidding. But the point is that we don't know what it all meant. It's extremely vague. And, yes, I did get the reference to "rocking" and "knocking," and it was clear there was sex involved (especially when a girl comes out with no pants on...). But how it all tied together, with the robot and Gabe and with no JoCo, was a mystery.

Jake: "thought the robot was built by Jonathan in order to take care of the groupies he doesn’t have time to get to." That's an excellent point. Makes sense.

Another idea is that JoCo *is* the robot. In reality, he's a robot pretending to be a human. And, since he was interrupted by the knock, he didn't have time to put his human suit back on. I'm just sayin....

"The strip doesn’t make it clear that Gabe is exiting the trailer" Right -- that was a source of confusion for me too. If it was walking out of the trailer and did the thumbs up, would have been crystal clear. But standing outside.... Huh?

Paul R. Potts says

OK, I think we've conclusively proved that the joke is too complicated to be actually _funny_.

I mean, seriously... I am certainly dirty-minded enough to imagine all kinds of things going on inside the trailer. I don't need to have the "rockin', knockin'" thing explained. But it falls down because I can't figure out who was inside the trailer; it just doesn't explain that very well, visually.

At first I thought that the girl in the JoCo t-shirt with no pants was supposed to _be_ JoCo, as represented by the cartoonist. Kind of like the way different people play Bob Dylan in the recent movie about him?

But I was only led down this line of reasoning because the real JoCo never comes out, so there is no real delivery of a punch line, final sight gag, or whatever. This could have even been delivered by JoCo's disembodied voice, or even a thought bubble, but without it, I'm left wondering why the first guy is sweating and biting his lip.

I think it could have worked quite better as a joke in several different ways. Simply as a two-panel, with a parade of robots and girls leaving grinning, all giving thumbs-up, and the first guy reacting (putting his hand over his eyes and shaking his head, or having a thought bubble about how he can't un-see something now). Or as a more shaggy-dog joke with a whole series of people/robots/giant squids leaving the trailer, and finally JoCo comes out and says something (funny/surreal) like "We were just writing a new song. It's kinda complicated..." and the first guy smacks his forehead again and says "never mind... I don't want to visualize how sausage is made either...").

But as-is, it's a bit unclear who was in the trailer and came out and who walked up and why the the first guy is having that reaction. I've heard the theories that this is a complicated in-joke about a poly character or something, but figuring out if that is right seems like it would require me to go back through and read the whole comic archive. Which, you know, maybe I would like to do anyway, but not just to get this 3-panel comic...

Paul R. Potts says

Oh, another thing that made me wonder was the title. The word "conjugal" implies a _spouse_ (or at least a same-sex domestic partner now, depending on the state and the prison).

So I also spent some valuable neurotransmitters wondering which one of these characters was supposed to be JoCo's _wife_. Because if it isn't his wife in the trailer, the pun doesn't make sense. "Conjugal" doesn't imply a groupie, fuck-bunny of any kind, friend with benefits, escort, male, female, or robotic... the word just doesn't extend to mean that. That's just the writers being sloppy with language trying to make a pun on "JoCo" that ultimately also just weakens and muddles the joke...

JoCo says

Jeezo Pete. For the record, I both "got it" and "thought it was funny." Note to self: never link to anything again.

Paul R. Potts says

Well, that's a pointless-blather stopper, and no mistake!

I feel like Dilbert realizing that maybe that light dinnertime anecdote about compiler bugs did go on a little too long...

SMurph says

JoCo also got a shoutout at Wil Wheaton's panel; at one point (I can't recall the exact context) he was talking about some plan or scheme, then stated that it "was a triumph. Making a note here, huge success". As the crowd went nuts he stood and poured a splash of his bottled water out on the floor, "For Jonathan Coulton!"

roscivs says

For the record, I too thought it was somehow saying that JoCo was a robot (perhaps daft punk style?) and had just made passionate love to a groupie, which Gabe thought was cool and Tycho thought was nasty (neither of which were involved). Apparently I got it entirely wrong. :-/ Sorry JoCo!

JonXP says

I was actually at the making of the strip, and am surprised at the degree of discussion about it!

The script went something like this:
Outside of a trailer that is obviously rocking. The door is labeled "Jonathan Coulton".

Tycho knocks on the door.

"Mr. Coulton? Um, I know that your trailer is rocking, and I really shouldn't *knock* in this instance, but... They need you for a sound check."

"They want to check your sound"

The door opens. An attractive woman clad in only a JoCo t-shirt emerges...followed by a robot.

They are then followed by Gabe.

Gabe gives Tycho the "double thumbs up".

During the drawing of the strip, it was requested that the girl be made a redhead (she's a generic pretty girl, not anyone specific), Tycho's expression in the last pane be changed from disgust to jealousy, and that JoCo be put lounging in the doorway looking pleased. The first two were done at the panel, and the last one was to be done on Monday (they ran out of time), unfortunately Gabe's computer died, so they just went with what they had.

obfuscatedfembot says

So far only friends and techies call me fembot/andriod, I aspire to your status oh Mr. Coulton!!!

Neil says

Paul R. Potts: "JoCo comes out and says something (funny/surreal) like “We were just writing a new song. It’s kinda complicated…” " -- That would have been *hilarious*! Great thought!

JonXP: Thanks, Man, for clearing it up. Someone here said, "It's like a joke that never finished." And your explanation confirms that. I see that space in the third panel where JoCo would have been lounging in the doorway, and that would have made it understandable. Thanks so much for the explanation.

JoCo: Sorry, man, for quibbling and raining on da parade here. Please don't never link to anything again. :-)

Malcolm says

there is a song about robot love here. It's called Robot Made a Man of Me: