Bonus Leadins

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Bonus Leadins

Postby 1992 in spaceflight » Sun Dec 17, 2017 3:06 am

In a recent tournament I read, there was a joke in the leadin of a bonus in almost every packet I read (the first 10 rounds). For an idea of what I'm talking about with reference to jokes in bonus leadins, see this previous thread. I've certainly made a few jokes in leadins and bonuses before (in one NASAT, I referred to Ludendorff and Hindenburg as the wonder twins, for example). I'd like to make a few points:

1. A few (Read: Not one or more every round) jokes in a 14-packet set are not bad. If the joke is funny enough, it can provide a nice moment.
2. You necessarily need to think about whether or not the joke unnecessarily adds length to your bonus. A few of the jokes made the leadin of the bonus take up three lines, and there's no need for this.
3. Sometimes, the joke is just not funny.

In conclusion, moderation is key. One every 3 or so packets is fine; one every packet (and the joke being pretty bad), and it starts to get on the nerves of the moderator and the teams.
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Re: Bonus Leadins

Postby Who Cares About Nausinous » Sun Dec 17, 2017 1:15 pm

This. Whenever I hear someone say "this is the packet with all the jokes," it is not "Woo yeah, this is the packet with all the jokes!" It's "Oh boy, this is the packet with all the :kenj: -ing jokes."
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Re: Bonus Leadins

Postby The Real Master of Flémalle » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:23 am

Here's a helpful method to decide when to put a joke in the lead-in of your bonus:

Step 1: Do you think you should put a joke in this lead-in?

Step 2: Put something interesting and informative there instead.

Also please no more of the "You are an X who wants to Y" lead-ins.
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Re: Bonus Leadins

Postby alexdz » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:26 am

Some short humor that isn't likely to confuse anyone or set the wrong tone is fine on an occasional basis. If you really need to make your set "funny," consider something like, "Answer some enlightening questions about Thomas Edison," where the humor comes from a pun that is *also informative.* This kind of humor, used judiciously, is more likely to elicit a smile than a groan.
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Re: Bonus Leadins

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:33 am

The Real Master of Flémalle wrote:Also please no more of the "You are an X who wants to Y" lead-ins.


I'm like 99% confident that I invented these (or at least popularized them) in my 2008 Chicago Open History Doubles. A bit of a background on what I was thinking at the time follows below.

At the time, I had received feedback from actual historians that my history questions were too focused on people and elite-level events (like battles, political coups, etc) and that I was not asking enough about the lives of everyday people. I thought long and hard about how I might ask about the lives of everyday people from the past, and my solution was "You are an X who wants to Y". The first bonus I ever wrote in this format was, I think, about being a merchant in ancient Sumeria and the answerlines were all trade goods and/or ancient cities where you might buy and sell those goods. Very quickly, the comedic potential of this bonus format was discovered. I think like the third bonus of that format I ever wrote was a joke. I'm not sure if I am proud or embarrassed at how this format has taken off, but I wanted to assure folks that there was a legitimate reason at one point.

Anyway, more generally, I tended to put a lot of jokes in my writing back when I was writing hundreds of quizbowl questions for year. For me, it was about staying sane. Writing tossups and bonuses can be mind-numbing and putting humor into it made it less mundane. At the same time, I was often annoyed by the dripping wet humor that some people put into their packets, so I tried to restrain myself. First, I kept it brief and kept it relegated to just a few questions in the set. Second, instead of writing my own jokes, I tried as much as possible to simply highlight the inherent absurdity or comedy of the things I was writing about. There are historical events, mythological stories, etc. that are just plain funny if you look at them a certain way and IMO highlighting the funny aspects is the least intrusive way to add humor to your writing.
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Re: Bonus Leadins

Postby The Real Master of Flémalle » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:52 pm

I realize now my attempt at pithiness has led to me taking an unnecessarily extreme stance on jokes in the lead in. The occasional, non-forced joke can, in itself, contribute to variety in writing (and there's probably an argument to be made that having some sort of leadin is more helpful than just saying "FTPE, answer the following about X"), which can help a player keep their stamina up through a round. And like Bruce said, some things are just inherently jokes, and there's no acceptable way to ask about them than to treat them as jokes.

I would say where it crosses the line is when multiple leadins in a round are jokes, perhaps forced. I really like the leadins to bonuses which a lot of people will know which take the opportunity to do some exposition on some never before heard factoid, the ones that make me do a double take and go straight to google when I'm reading packets. While jokes might (when well executed) be memorable in play, I find it's these expository leadins that are more memorable during packet study, so I'm always going to prefer them to jokes personally. Moreover, in play I find that getting hit with jokes repeatedly is kind of exhausting.
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Re: Bonus Leadins

Postby Cheynem » Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:05 pm

As a former educator, I found that bad jokes in quizbowl and in teaching lectures played basically the same role, which was to please the author/lecturer at the expense of the audience. However, I also enjoyed pleasing myself in both of those roles.
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Re: Bonus Leadins

Postby Mike Bentley » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:45 pm

The Real Master of Flémalle wrote:I would say where it crosses the line is when multiple leadins in a round are jokes, perhaps forced. I really like the leadins to bonuses which a lot of people will know which take the opportunity to do some exposition on some never before heard factoid, the ones that make me do a double take and go straight to google when I'm reading packets. While jokes might (when well executed) be memorable in play, I find it's these expository leadins that are more memorable during packet study, so I'm always going to prefer them to jokes personally. Moreover, in play I find that getting hit with jokes repeatedly is kind of exhausting.


Yeah I think the occasional leadin joke in the form of an actual clue (even if it's unlikely to be very helpful) are a fine way to add some variety to a packet. e.g. some outrageous quote about the person you're asking about.

And the occasional outright joke is also fine depending on the context. Know your audience and the level of professionalism needed in writing questions.

As a player I can appreciate tournaments like those edited by Chris Ray that can include laugh-out-loud moments without being distracting. But the audience expectations of most of those tournaments are different than, say, your average high school housewrite.
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Re: Bonus Leadins

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:08 pm

Mike Bentley wrote:Yeah I think the occasional leadin joke in the form of an actual clue (even if it's unlikely to be very helpful) are a fine way to add some variety to a packet. e.g. some outrageous quote about the person you're asking about.

And the occasional outright joke is also fine depending on the context. Know your audience and the level of professionalism needed in writing questions.

As a player I can appreciate tournaments like those edited by Chris Ray that can include laugh-out-loud moments without being distracting. But the audience expectations of most of those tournaments are different than, say, your average high school housewrite.

This is a good post!
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Re: Bonus Leadins

Postby jonpin » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:17 pm

I've seen these done in a great way, and also done in a terrible, plodding, boring way. Back when I was a relative newcomer to the game, I distinctly remember one tournament where over the course of the day there were (scattered about) the bonus lead-ins: "Name these things about stuff." "Name these things about stuff... in space!" and then still later "Name these things about stuff... exploding!" or something like that. Amusing, short, not counter-productive. But things like "You are a quiz bowl player pondering how you remember the answers for the parts of a bonus. Answer these questions about the cognitive processes involved" tend to not be nearly as fun or interesting as the writer believes them to be and are more likely to distract or just bore the player.

Mike Cheyne's got a good point in that lame classroom humor is often for the benefit of the instructor themselves. That's why a few years ago, I stopped trying to make Keanu Reeves jokes at the start of my unit on matrices. But it's not completely out of place. When I get to limits, when we get the first example of a non-existent limit, I almost always hear someone mutter "The limit does not exist!" to their neighbor, and--depending on whether we have time--I bring up the function from Mean Girls. Academically, that function is stupid and wouldn't fit into that part of the curriculum, but it's something the teenagers know and remember, so it might stick with them.
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