Tobold's Blog
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Toilet humor

I blame the British. Different cultures find different things funny, and the British find toilet humor funny. Other cultures just find it disgusting. And so it comes that there is a petition against Jarate plus lots of angry discussions going round in the Team Fortress 2 community. What is Jarate, you ask? The latest TF2 weapon technology, using a jar of urine to give a debuff to an enemy. It has been described as disgusting, stupid, unfunny, gross, etc.

Of course others point out in defense of Jarate that Team Fortress 2 is full of another bodily fluid: Blood. Apparently people aren't as offended by a pink mist spray of blood from a head shot, or characters burning covered in napalm, than they are by urine.

World of Warcraft of course has some toilet humor too. There are several quests where you end up digging through poo of various animals. Of course there are also less disgusting versions, like the dwarf who got locked into a toilet, and gives you a quest to find him the key as well as some silk cloth, being strangely reluctant to tell you what exactly he needs the cloth for, but appreciating its softness.

So, do you think that toilet humor is just harmless fun, or is it something which shouldn't be in any games?
I don't know what bias I was raised with, but I am honestly shocked at some people's negative reaction to this. If I have had to bet money beforehand, I would have bet on people finding it hilarious without batting an eyelash.

Now, I am not really a big fan of low brow comedy. The blue collar comedy tour and slapstick aren't what you will catch me watching if I want to laugh, and I have even criticized low brow humor before. But this is so...innocuous. I'm a pretty die hard liberal, generally deemed the more easily offended political persuasion, but this nets a solid 0 on my offense-o-meter.

It's a game. It's a game where you blow people apart regularly into chunks of flesh and sprays of blood. And people find pee in bad taste?

I honestly don't understand this in the slightest.
I think it's pretty bad taste to attribute this to the English. As an English man married to a Swede, I see far more low brow humour on TV here in Sweden than I ever did in the UK.

Uk humour, in my experience is more slapstick based, particularly in the 70s and 80s. While I can think of numerous sexist / sexual / silly / purile comedic acts (lets say benny hill, kenny everet and so on), I can think of barely any that are what you describe as toilet humour.
Brit here. Love toilet humour but my favourite type of humour is wordplay.
Hang on, is a German man lecturing the British on their poor sense of humor?
I too am slightly confused by your picking on us Brits, whether in jest or not - I do not understand to what or whom you are referring. And while I agree that Ricky Gervais is a s**t comedian, this is not meant in the scatological sense at all.

What I think you mean is that Children enjoy toilet humour, and perhaps that is the root of the disagreement among TF2 players. That is that throwing urine is at odds with the other "humour" in this (Mature rated) game in that it is just so childish.
I think you are wrong to tag the English on this one Tobold. Schoolboy sexual innuendo has long been a staple of British comedy but actual reference to toilet functions has never featured strongly.

Toilet prudishness is actually a serious public health issue. In many parts of the world basic sanitation issues are not being addressed because it is a taboo subject. You can read more about this at

I am not sure a video game is a key place to start tackling this silly taboo though. Forcing your customers to confront their own prejudices is rarely a sound business proposition.
Hmm I wouldn't really say it's the main part of English humour. Sure TV shows like Little Britain are popular for around 15 minutes, but they are not staples of English humour like Only Fools and Horses, Red Dwarf, and many other love programmes.

To go back to the topic, I always see a huge backlash against the "Poo" quests in WoW.
1. Lighten up, it's a joke.
2. You find it ok to kill people, but have a problem with virtual poo?

Recently a friend of mine was getting offended by the Swine Flu debuff in WoW
"I don't care how long it's been in the game, it kills people and should be removed"
"You're a hunter and use guns to kill people, the same function guns have in real life"
"errr...good point"

People need to stop getting offended by nothing.
This was amazing, the whole thing, since the begining, the speculation regarding the sniper patch, then the focus change to spy, and even some video leaks to the internet that had the special moment at the blog (
But this post defending Jarate in a formal way, like some sort of trial, was my best reading on game forums.
"Yes" I'm English.
"No" I'm not offended by throwing jars of piss at other players.
But to be honest I see 'Sarcasm' as the main form of British comedy, rather than toilet humor.

And if, in real life, I had the choice between a jar of piss or a hand-grenade being thrown in my direction, I'm pretty sure which one would offend me most.

It's a game. And they're offended?
God help them if they ever played any of the 'Postal' series!
Jarate is hilarious. People need to get over it.
Strangely enough, I prefer British slapstick to American slapstick (Think Family Guy) and even my own country's sort of slapstick. (Mr Bones... *shiver*).

I wouldn't say British humor is based on toilet humor at all.

And I would be offended by pee, though I'm not sure why I rate that worse than blood?
"And I would be offended by pee, though I'm not sure why I rate that worse than blood?"

Because we are engineered at a base animal level to get rid of, and stay rid of, and not involve ourselves with our waste products.

Blood, on the other hand, is vital to us and while different people view it in different ways, we are not conditioned to hate / love / loathe / fear it in such a strong way, although we are designed to both understand that it is essential and respect it's power.

This is why vampires drink blood, it's a primal instinct to ingest items of power.

This is also why vampires do not drink piss.
Some people are incredibly uptight and will find anything to bitch about. I'm not surprised by the petition one bit but I did find many of the replies quite humorous.

Prisoners inside the penal system have been using jars of pis to debuff guards for centuries. THAT is disgusting and quite real. A video game... well... isn't...

My advice to the people who signed that petition is take a good look in the proverbial mirror and ask why they feel blowing someone into chunks is perfectly ok but getting flamed with pis isn't. I'm thinking of joining the Steam forum just so I can create a "petition" to remove blood from the game. My bet is that the same people who started the pis thread will immediately begin to flame me for being a sissy who can't handle blood.
I blame the British. Different cultures find different things funny, and the British find toilet humor funny.
Agreed on the terribly misplaced priorities.

As to the topic at hand, I have no use for toilet humor. I'll put up with it if a movie or game is otherwise interesting, but it ranges between static and annoying. It adds nothing worthwhile in my opinion, so I'm always disappointed that someone stooped to that level rather than coming up with something better.

If the only thing a bit of entertainment has going for it is toilet humor, I just don't participate. Fussing over it doesn't help much, from what I've seen; the mentality that enjoys toilet humor also enjoys annoying other people, so it's just feeding the fire.
Jarate is not toilet humor, as there are clearly no toilets involved. QED.
Burn someone alive with the Pyro.. No worries!

Shoot someone in the face with a sniper rifle.. Good old fashioned childrens entertainment!

Soak someone with a pint of warm kidney juice.. Now thats too damn far!

Ahh internet morons. Where would we be without the entertainment offered by the slow witted chumps that clog up everyday society.
I'm just waiting to see if someone suggested this item just to take the piss...

...I'll get my coat.
@Wow Trader: there is plenty of toilet humour in shows like Red Dwarf :) But point taken.

I don't think people need to be prudish about any sort of humour. Personally, I find a lot of things funny but I'd only like to see it in a game if it actually fitted in with the feel of it. WoW has a comic feel so a lot of its humour works. I couldn't imagine seeing some of its quests in other MMOs though.
A co-worker and myself actually compare our stool using the Bristol Stool Chart (google it).

It's all in good fun until someone has a type 7 explosion =\
I don't think any game is focused around that much toilet or bodily function humor. A little bit goes a long way, but these games have a great deal of variety and humor of every type.

If you don't like it, don't focus on it. Not a big deal.
I don't play TF2, but my first reaction is that the urine throwing makes the game, and thus those playing it, look juvenile. Who would want to explain it to their spouse? Raise hands, please.

It's also not exactly realistic compared to most of the other weapon options in the game, as far as I'm aware. Why urine and not some sort of disabling chemical?
I like it, and I think people who don't need to lighten up a little ;)
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