Homestarrunner is Ten

By Shamus
on Aug 23, 2006
Filed under:
Nerd Culture
The many faces of Homestar Runner

Homestarrunner turns 10 this year. Back in the early days of this millenium everyone was linking HSR. The site is still rolling, still making with the funny, but I never see HSR links. I guess nobody links it because they think everyone links it. But still, it seems like Homestar’s tenth birthday should be worth a mention.

I found Homestar via a FARK link. My first exposure to the site was this Strong Bad email which was #20. I wonder when that was? Sometime in 1999 maybe? I thought it was pretty funny, although I’m not sure the site would amuse newcomers these days. The site has built up a strange sort of humor by making in-jokes on in-jokes, nested many levels deep, so that I don’t know if it would even make sense to a newbie. It’s possible to go to the site and watch the various holiday specials, the Strong Bad emails, the cartoon shorts, but what they really need is just a way to see all of the marterial in chronological order, which is the only way the uninitiated can hope to make sense of any of it.

One of their favorite things to do is to take the entire cast and translate them into some other medium / era / artistic style. The “olde timey” B&W depression era stuff isn’t really a send-up of depression era entertainment, but instead just a goofy new lens through which we can view the same old characters. The humor comes from linking the familiar characters to some familiar archetype from the other medium.

When I first saw Strong Bad, I didn’t know he was a short little wrestleman with no shirt. I watched several emails before it cut away to a wide shot and let me see something besides the back of his head. So, my perception was very skewed at first. Who was this hostile guy in the strange helmet (which was really a mask) who answers emails? I figured he was supposed to be some sort of super villian, which was sort of funny. Sort of a “Lex Luthor runs an advice column for aspiring super villians” kind of thing. Then I saw who he was and realized my perception of him was all wrong.

Strong Bad vs. Strong Badman

But then they had this email which showed a comic-book version of Strongbad. It was only meaningful because putting cartoony Strongbad into the more gritty comic book world was funny. But the strange thing is that this new version of Strongbad portrayed him as the character I’d originally mistaken him for. How did they know?!?

It’s an amazing site. I understand the animators (two brothers) have turned the site into a full-time job, which is even more impressive. Despite their relative success, I’ve never seen an animated site that was able to immitate their particular brand of humor. I’m sure some have tried, but I think the HSR formula would be deviously difficult to duplicate. I have to give them credit: They have kept the site amusing for a long time. Their output has dropped in the past year, but the quality hasn’t. I admire envy that.

Way to go guys.

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11Just 11 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. BeckoningChasm says:

    The Bros Chaps’ ability with flash has never ceased to amaze me. That said, I don’t go as often as I used to. As you note, the humor has become so insular that, for me, it just bypasses both “humor” and “weird for weird’s sake” and goes straight to “self-congratulatory.”

    Still, I like StrongBad. He’s a really great character, and pretty much funny no matter what he does. StrongSad has also developed a nice comic voice. The rest of the characters…[shrugs]. Mostly varying degrees of annoying, honestly.

  2. Mark says:

    StrongBad is hilarious. A friend showed me a few emails about 4 or 5 years ago. I remember one about StrongBad creating a heavy metal song – and the guy absolutely nailed the conventions. There was also an email about office politics or something that was funny. I went through a phase where I tried to watch everything, but since then I’ve only stopped by a few times. Strongbad was really the only character that interested me, but he’s awesome enough that it doesn’t matter. I should check that out again…

  3. Will says:

    I still laugh out load when I think about the “virus” email. “Computer over? Virus=Very Yes.”

  4. Ubu Roi says:

    “Consumate V’s! Consumate V’s! …boy wouldn’t know majesty if it bit him on the a$$.”

  5. bill says:

    I love your blog.

    Thanks for reminding of a source of fun in my life.

  6. Dan says:

    I have to agree with mark the heavy metal email is by far the funniest thing ever. O and it was 2002 when you discovered HSR. You showed it to Ruth and I immediatly after you found it and I was in 11th grade. I remember this because I used to make my VO-tech teacher check the site every monday (remember when SB emails came out that often) and play the new email at the start of class on the overhead.

  7. Shamus says:

    Thanks for jogging my memory. I was trying to remember based on when I quit reading FARK. I thought I’d left FARK by 2002, but I guess not. At some point the site became less and less “amusing links” and more and more “boobies and brainless political flamewars” and I had to get out of there. Amusing links are always welcome, but if you’re having trouble finding boobies and political debates on the net, you are either doing something very wrong, or in China.

  8. BeckoningChasm says:

    Fark is one of those thinks I’ve also dropped away from. I still have a membership, but I only poke around there once in a blue moon.

    That seems to be a common problem with some websites: they tend to ossify, and if you don’t like their final form, you’re out of luck by that point and need to hit the road again in search of entertainment.

  9. Shamus says:

    Chasm: That is a very interesting way of looking at websites. That could apply to just about every website that interests me, and many that USED to interest me but don’t any longer.

    In fact, it describes this site pretty well, since I started off blogging a D&D campaign.

    I need to let that idea sit for a while…

  10. H*R lova says:

    Check it, the site is so cool in da duece double nutin 2 triple! or 2006.

  11. Nintendoh says:

    Double H*R lova.

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