Eric: You know, from the neck up that hot dog vendor could have been in a Cary Grant movie.
(From Least I Could Do! Click on the thumbnail for full sized friendship defined!)
Look, I'm a guy. I admit it. I own up to it.
When I go into a convenience store, and I glance at the magazine racks, my eyes linger on Maxim and its ilk. Why? Because there is a healthy woman who wants to show just how good airbrushing techniques can make skin look on the cover, and that sucks my eyes to look at it. While I never regularly watched The Man Show, I have seen it... and I'd be lying if I claimed I never laughed while watching it. When I listen to Denis Leary's "Asshole," I find myself nodding to a bunch of the lyrics.
I'm a guy.
Sometimes, I just enjoy guy stuff.
Which brings me to Least I Can Do.
There are a lot of webcomics out there that try to break down the elements of relationships, of romance, of the attraction and repulsion the opposite sexes have for one another.
Least I Can Do is not one of those webcomics. There is nothing deep going on here. This is Rayne Summers. He's a guy. He likes to have sex. With women. A lot. And he's pretty damn good at it.
And... that's it.
Look -- here's the logo to the series. Notice how that logo has a funny looking letter I? That's because there's a condom over it. There's a condom. Over the letter I. In the logo. This is the kind of comic strip we're discussing here. All right? No Cerebus Syndrome. No First and Ten Syndrome. No hidden agenda. This is a sex romp, pure and simple. This is guy humor.
I read it every day. I have for months.
Say what you want -- it can be refreshing to have a "high concept" that's not so damn high, every now and again. And sex, at its heart, is funny. You have to laugh at it, or else it hits you how utterly ridiculous it is -- especially when you're not having it. There's a reason There's Something About Mary made a lot of money. The same with the American Pie movies. We can decry them as low-brow if we want. We can even be right when we do it. But the simple fact of the matter is, people laughed their asses off when they saw them in the theaters. They laughed their asses off and then they went to see the sequels. People will go to see the inevitable Wedding Crashers 2 for the same reason.
However, just because humor is low brow doesn't mean it gets a bye. If you watch G4 at all (and I'm not saying you would), you'll notice that the videogame/geek channel now shows reruns of The Man Show. No, I don't know how that tracks, either. However, they specifically show the first few seasons of The Man Show, over and over again -- the seasons where Adam Corolla and Jimmy Kimmel were the hosts. "The original Man Show," the advertisements go. "The way Adam and Jimmy made them."
There is no sign of the years that Doug Stanhope and Joe Rogan were the hosts, because The Man Show was at once pure guy humor and a satire of guy humor under Kimmel and Corolla. Under Stanhope and Rogan, it was just crass. It was bad guy humor. Embarrassing for everyone involved.
Doug Stanhope went on to host Girls Gone Wild, which is the pinnacle of bad guy humor and titillation.
Least I Could Do, on the other hand, is good Guy humor. It's cheerful. The women are all busty and beautiful, the guys all handsome (even the 'short fat guy' isn't all that short or all that fat... and it goes without saying that none of the girls are fat). A darn good case could be made that the strip is sexist. I don't think the strip pretends to be anything else, however. It's guy humor, pure and simple. I remember one series of strips where Issa, the hot female lead (and one of the few women to not have sex with Rayne) drags Rayne shopping with her. She gets him to agree to go by promising to try on and model no less than three garments of his choice at Victoria's Secret. Exploitive? Absolutely.
But I admit, I laughed when I read it.
I chose the strip up above because I think it's pretty typical of the kind of joke I'm talking about -- while being atypical in that it doesn't involve Rayne getting his bone on. Mick -- who is not very good with the ladies -- is given an opening. Now, Rayne and the others delight in tormenting Mick. This too is a hallmark of Guy Humor. This isn't the geeks winning out over the jocks. This is the jocks moving on into the world and bringing their jock ways with them. Think most 80's comedies that didn't have "Nerd" in the title somewhere, and you've got about the right idea. However, despite everything, they do like Mick, and when he's given a straight line he can't handle, Rayne steps in to give him a hand. "It's what he does," indeed. Straightforward, cheerful, guy humor.
Very cheerful, in fact. The strip doesn't really have a mean bone in its penis body. I meant 'body.' In the days following the referenced strip, an annual contest was held. You see, each Valentine's day one of the strip's readers gets to be drawn into the strip on a date with the character of his (or, technically, her) choice. This year, the winner was gay, and his choice was Rayne. Now, given everything, you might expect a kerfluffle as Rayne goes out on a Valentine's date with another man. Instead, he cheerfully went, explaining that it sure beat what the rest of the cast would be doing -- sitting at home feeling lonely. The rest of the week continued to be typical guy/sex humor, touching on but never mocking Sean's sexuality.
It's worth noting -- Guy humor is not the same as male humor. Least I Could Do has female fans. So, for that matter, did The Man Show, and American Pie, and Wedding Crashers, and all the rest. By the same token, some women scope out the cover of Maxim the same way that I do. Or scope out some magazine with a man on the cover, if they're not into scoping out girls. "Guy humor" is a quality that exceeds the XY Chromosome pair.
The strip's had three different artists over the years. Ryan Sohmer -- the writer, who's been on board from the very beginning, back in 2003 -- has gone on the record saying his favorite is the current artist, Lar Desouza. I personally disagree -- I preferred Chad WM Porter, who was the middle artist. His art was less caricatured -- more fluid. Easier to interpret. However, it makes sense to me that Sohmer prefers Desouza, because Desouza nails the "guy humor" aesthetic. The characters are generally mugging to the camera. The women are zaftig. It's like Benny Hill, only with metrosexual leads.
It is entirely possible you will despise this strip. If you don't like guy humor funny... if you don't like strips that stay on the surface... and for that matter, if you can't get around the fact that all the girls are gorgeous and it's somehow okay that Rayne nails a few dozen of them a month without consequence... then you're not going to like Least I Could Do. And that's okay. Honestly. There's a part of me that considers this strip a guilty pleasure -- on a level with flipping through channels, discovering one of them's showing Wild On or The Making of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and lingering because -- hey, look at the tits! I don't ask you to agree with that impulse.
But if you do like this sort of thing... you could do worse than looking through Least I Could Do. It's definitely Adam and Jimmy, not Joe and Doug.
Posted by Eric Burns-White at February 20, 2006 4:03 PM
I wish there was a better word than "guy" for this, since, outside of the group-address context, it still carries heavy male overtones. Nothing you describe here is particularly male-specific, though.
Comment from: Eric Burns posted at February 20, 2006 4:48 PM
A good point. I did a fast edit to make that a bit clearer in text.
Mmm. I guess it'll do, but it feels rather more like a concession. Rather like being made the honourary guy at a bachelor party.
Comment from: sdf posted at February 20, 2006 5:24 PM
Yeah, I can definitely dig this style of humor. See the strip I linked to, and google "Tony Iob" "cigarette lighter".
Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at February 20, 2006 5:58 PM
I read Calvin and Hobbes and Least I Could Do in my lunchtime trawl, one after the other, in that order. It's like checking in with the same character at six and at twenty-six.
Comment from: Tangent posted at February 20, 2006 6:12 PM
Hmm. I tried the comic once. It just didn't gel for me. Then again, I'm more into storytelling strips, and LICD has a passionate love for jokes.
That and the humor sometimes rubs me the wrong way.
(*ponders if he's punned enough* Hmm... guess I've covered my bases here...)
Rob H., who can't tell a good pun to save his life...
There is nothing deep going on here.
I respectfully disagree. Least I Could Do is, basically, Tucker Max: The Webcomic (or is, at least, directly comparable to the TM stories). It's highly enjoyable on an entirely superficial level and you don't really need to 'see' anything other than that. It's funny if you think Rayne is a exceedingly good-looking/charming guy that has all girls comically swooning over him; and it's still funny (and a little more meaningful) if you see Rayne as an impersonation of the 'alpha male' archetype and his environment (and conquests) a result of the changing sexual norms of the last decade or so.
I could go on, but I feel that this is not the appropriate place. I read (and sometimes post) in the Tucker Max Message Board, and this is a subject that comes up frequently. Suffice to say that while Rayne's life is (of course) cartoonishly exaggerated, it is far less removed from reality than most think.
Comment from: Maritza Campos posted at February 20, 2006 7:24 PM
This strip has REALLY good art, and it's STILL one of the few YHMAYLM I have. A shame, really.
Comment from: Kate Sith posted at February 20, 2006 7:40 PM
Man. I spent like half of last Sunday eating the archives (for the second time--I surfed back a ways ages ago and started at the beginning this time, only to meet in the middle) and I was just pondering linking this to someone t'other night. I keep meaning to add it to the dailies, but it only ever gets read in chunks. Good stuff, tho.
Then again, my life seems to have become one long string of innuendo, so I guess I can appreciate it pretty well. ^^
I tried to get into this strip a couple of months ago, but gave up. While I will arch an occasional eyebrow at a Maxim, or watch The Man Show (Kimmel/Carolla years) if nothing else is on and laugh a few times, "guy humor" isn't something I can really get into even at the level of a pastime.
For example, the strip thumbnailed above: it is funny. I like pretty women, of which that is a drawing of one. The setup and punchline are clever. But the content just sets off a little alarm bell in my brain--the Uncomfortable With Casual Sex References Around Complete Strangers alarm, I guess. I partly expected one of them to get slapped in the fourth panel, not complimented on being a good friend. (Slapping the whisperer would actually work as another clever punchline, IMO, but for my sense of humor, not for the strip's.)
I have no good way to sum up this comment. Watch it screech to a halt.
I've been reading LICD for years now, and it has been funny often enough to keep me reading it.
For all his sexual escapades, my favorite part about Rayne is his obsession with the Lord of the Rings movies, and Aragorn in particular. That extra-little bit of humanizing and geekifying this over-the-top character made him come much more alive for me. I often prefer the comics that focus on the other characters, though, since they tend to be more sympathetic characters than Rayne is.
I completely agree about the artist, but it wouldn't really be politic for the author to say that he didn't like his current artist as much as the last one, either.
Guy who has sex with a huge number of hot girls, and has a secret geeky obession? Sounds like Roomies/It's Walky if Joe was the main character.
Comment from: Maritza Campos posted at February 20, 2006 11:42 PM
I'd actually love such a strip. For all his womanizing, Joe felt human. Unlike Rayne, who is just... he's just... I can't define it in any other way than saying he's a male Mary Sue. I don't read LICD anymore because I can't stand Rayne. I loved the rest of the male cast, and it was the only reason I kept reading. As for the females... I dunno. It feels like this strip is written by an alien being who gathers all his knowledge from human females from a box of bad porn that was left in an abandoned space station. There's not a single realistic female in this strip (and I'm not talking about the hot bodies, after all, I've got babes in my strip too). But women in this strip are more like sex dolls with a cliche voice box incorporated. Yeah, I know it's intentional. But it doesn't work for me. I'm not exactly offended by it, more like bored, in the same sense that I'm female and yet I'm bored to tears by Romance books. Only it's the male version of it. An endless blonde joke, you'd say.
But hey, what do I know. I can't stand anything Joss Whedon makes either. No one said I had good taste.
Comment from: Abby L. posted at February 20, 2006 11:44 PM
I battle with myself over reading this comic, since it's so easy to be offended by it, say when Rayne accidentally has sex with a fat girl and flips out. I'm not going to go all "I AM OFFENDED RAWR" on this comic, because I agree that it's funny and I love Lar. He's so cool.
Anyway, I just don't know if I can really *approve,* you see. I am conflicted about the whole thing. But I still read the comic.
Comment from: Eric Burns posted at February 20, 2006 11:49 PM
But women in this strip are more like sex dolls with a cliche voice box incorporated. Yeah, I know it's intentional. But it doesn't work for me. I'm not exactly offended by it, more like bored, in the same sense that I'm female and yet I'm bored to tears by Romance books. Only it's the male version of it. An endless blonde joke, you'd say.
See, I can absolutely understand that.
In a way, it's a little bit like the Three Stooges are said to be. If you get it, you get it. If you don't, you just don't. Neither side is right, nor wrong. It's just... there.
For the record? I've never gotten the Three Stooges.
Anyway -- I fully agree. There's little to know character development, the women are ambulatory RealDolls and Rayne is a total sue.
Only, see, it makes me laugh.
Anyway, I just don't know if I can really *approve,* you see. I am conflicted about the whole thing. But I still read the comic.
Yeah, I hear that. Some of the jokes do trigger Eric's Liberal Guilt™.
Comment from: Ooka posted at February 21, 2006 12:18 AM
I've enjoyed watching the change in cartoonists.
Though I've always wondered if this part meant anything:
Was probably scrapped, but was an interesting facet of Rayne...
I tried to read it, twice, but I keep getting thrown off, because i hate comics where the last panel is the character laughing about the last pannel, which seemed to happen a lot.
Comment from: DarkStar posted at February 21, 2006 1:44 PM
I keep losing track of this strip. I'll read the archives and then leave it for several months. Then get pointed at it again and read all the stuff I've missed. This has happened at least three times now. Maybe it'll stick this time.
Comment from: Mr Myth posted at February 21, 2006 2:00 PM
I like the comic, but definitely have felt a little guilty about reading it on more than one occasion.
Rayne definitely is a bit too perfect - but I like that the author recognizes this, and ever so occasionally has him not come out on top.
Still, as long as I can check it on most days and get a laugh out of it, and shrug it off on other times, it will probably stay on my list of reading stuffs.
Comment from: Mr Myth posted at February 21, 2006 2:03 PM
And I just realized I overused my daily quota of both 'definitely' and 'occasion' in the above post. Doh!
To be blunt, Eric...this is a bit of a long essay for a strip Least I Could Do. And this from the guy who started its wiki.
Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at February 21, 2006 4:03 PM
I actually always think of it as dude humor, knowing full well people will ask me it I mean surfer dude humor, or stoner dude humor, or whatnot. It's the kind of humor you indulge in amongst your dudes - and we all know a woman is just as capable of being one of your dudes as a man is. The whole reason is the whole use of the word "dude" itself - it's relaxed, casual, and it signifies a camraderie and easygoing attitude with a person that you don't ordinarily have in the world at large (well, some do, but that's another discussion entirely).
Though it's funny, as The Man Show, even in the Jimmy/Adam days, always straddled the clever/stupid line for me - and invariably, it was Kimmel that made me laugh and Carolla that made me cringe.
As for the comic... I'll give it a try when I'm not at work. It looks like something I'd rather not explain to my boss.
I started reading this comic about a month ago and quickly added it to my daily trawl list. In that month, I've exposed several of my friends to the strip (a great many of which happen to females), all of whom have found it to be hilarious.
It's not so much a guilty pleasure for me because quite frankly it's the sort of humour I indulge in every day. It may just be my particular friend-set, but Least I Could Do hits a note of recognition with it's over the top sexual humour and stereotypes.
For me, humour is a bit like mining for gold (leave it to an Alaskan to turn everything into a mining analogy). There's something to be said for subtle types of humour, the challenge of "getting" a joke that makes you think is rather like panning for gold. It's hard work and doesn't yield as many laughs, but you get a strong sense of accomplishment out of it.
Then there's stuff like this comic. Where the humour is all over the place waiting to be picked up. There's no deep thought necessary, no analysis, it's just funny.
As for Rayne being a Mary Sue (or do we call them Larry Stu's? I forget the male-identified term), that doesn't necessarily make it bad. Some of our greatest literature is filled with these sort of characters. The easy example is Pride & Prejudice. We have a tendency to look down on Mary Sue's because of bad fanfiction that has made them a cliche without realizing that it's not having a Mary Sue that makes a bad piece of fiction, it's bad writing.
And I find the writing of Least I Could Do to be brilliantly funny. But of course, individual mileage may vary.
Comment from: Eric Burns posted at February 21, 2006 4:36 PM
To be blunt, Eric...this is a bit of a long essay for a strip Least I Could Do.
That's what we do here, you see.
If there's one thing I've never been able to get, it's the complaint that "this subject doesn't warrant X words." Frankly, if I have a hundred words I want to say about a subject, I'll say a hundred words. If I have thirteen hundred words, I'll say thirteen hundred words. Life, she is like that, sometimes.
Comment from: Ferrous Buller posted at February 21, 2006 5:00 PM
Today's strip sums it up pretty well: "If you didn't laugh at that one, you're really not going to enjoy the next few minutes."
I've only read the last few months' worth of LICD, but what I may like best about it is it isn't mean-spirited. Rayne's just this cheerful, irrepressible, horny guy; he's the mischievous trickster who's never malicious. So he makes Mick, the "short fat guy," the butt of a lot of his jokes; but he also helps him out with women from time to time. He doesn't just bully Mick around to make himself feel better. In a sense, he's like the ultimate boy-trapped-in-a-man's-body: he does what he does because it's fun, not because he's looking to hurt anyone.
He's not above a little deception to seduce a woman - and his post-coital behavior could use a little work - but his methods are so absurdly over-the-top, it's hard to take offense at them. Sure, any guy can lie about how he feels towards a woman to seduce her; but how many talk their male friends into dressing up like nuns to try to impress a babe with his "charitable" ways? And while he may be the poster boy for the commitment-phobic, he's not incapable of an honest relationship with a woman. His friendship with Issa is nicely nuanced, despite - or perhaps because of - the absence of sex. When he finally has his big chance to score with Cyndi, he's up-front about his intentions (and she with him).
And like any good sex farce, I think there are - if not deeper moments - then at least genuine affection for all of the characters. Even Rayne's conquests du jour come across as sympathetic, even as they're made the butt of jokes, IMHO. The humor works better because these people aren't assholes, even though they sometimes do asshole-y things.
Plus he really digs Aragorn. Who can't appreciate that?
P.S. If you don't like "guy humor," does "low-brow sex farce" work better? Anyone wanna take a stab at redefining "chick flicks" now? :-)
Comment from: Decemberist posted at February 21, 2006 7:11 PM
I have read LICD ever since I started college. I even bought the book. And I've always felt that guilty pleasure about reading it. You really hit the nail on the head.
I told my girlfriend about it, and she read it for a while. When asked why she found it funny, she said "I dunno, it just reminds me of something you would like".
Comment from: Kristofer Straub posted at February 21, 2006 10:31 PM
My problem with Least I Can Do is that the Garfield syndrome, where the humor is just stuck in certain types of jokes subjects and they don't want to expand the characters beyond these subjects. It's going to get rather boring after a while.
And I'm not saying it should start trying to turn it into some sort of drama. I'd just like to see the fellows take on various different situations. For example, how would they react/interact when meeting woman of the 'militant feminism' stereotype. Or maybe they go to their high school reunion and start to compare their lives to that of their brethen married men.
And I don't mean that they have to slowly grow and mature, like what seems to be happening to Slick in Sinfest. (Well, until it stopped updating about a month ago.) It just needs new jokes and situations to laugh about.
I didn't even know there was anything but the Adam and Jimmy Man Show. There's apparently some benefit to living in this ungodly, subarctic country.
As for artists I much prefer Desouza's work. Whether he could have introduced the llama, I don't know, but I'm glad it survived the change.
The guilty pleasure is something I can relate to. It is of course just a comic strip, but it still feels wrong. There is some sort of delicious irony to the fact that I'm currently making steady (and delightful) progress through "The Second Sex".
I've only read the last few months' worth of LICD, but what I may like best about it is it isn't mean-spirited. Rayne's just this cheerful, irrepressible, horny guy; he's the mischievous trickster who's never malicious. So he makes Mick, the "short fat guy," the butt of a lot of his jokes; but he also helps him out with women from time to time. He doesn't just bully Mick around to make himself feel better. In a sense, he's like the ultimate boy-trapped-in-a-man's-body: he does what he does because it's fun, not because he's looking to hurt anyone.In one of my favorite early strips (http://www.leasticoulddo.com/index2.php?date=20030318), Rayne deliberately gets himself beaten up just so Mick can get the girl. This isn't to say I'd recommend Rayne as a role model, but he does look out for his friend in a "Guy" sort of way.
"For example, how would they react/interact when meeting woman of the 'militant feminism' stereotype."
Actually, something in that vein befell our hero som time ago:
It didn't go so well, at least at first. But Rayne, true to form, regrets nothing. :^)
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