What’s the joke here?

The comic strip Bizarro tends towards offbeat humor and obscure allusions. I can usually get the joke but today’s cartoon baffled me.

I initially saw the guy’s head as a glass but later thought it might be a finger. And clearly the word ‘validation’ is significant. But I don’t get the joke.

Any ideas?


  1. jenorafeuer says

    Yeah, it’s probably doing a ‘thumbs up’ bit meaning support and validation. Either that or the idea of using a thumbprint or fingerprint to validate who you are against some sort of biometric scan, but in that case it probably would have been facing the other way with the print visible.

  2. billseymour says

    My first thought was also “thumbs up”; but that’s probably not a gesture that’s understood the world over.  Indeed, in some cultures it might be taken as rude.

    I have a neighbor from Bosnia to whom I once gave a thumbs up, and from his expression, I fear that I might have offended him.

  3. Rob Grigjanis says

    I don’t understand the doubt expressed by commenters. Of course it’s a ‘thumbs up’!

    billseymour @4: Bosnians who watch international football matches (I’m guessing there are a few) would know exactly what ‘thumbs up’ means. It’s commonly used as acknowledgement of a good pass.

    There is such a thing as overthinking…

  4. mailliw says

    @4 billseymour

    I have a neighbor from Bosnia to whom I once gave a thumbs up, and from his expression, I fear that I might have offended him.

    In Iraq thumbs up means much the same as the middle finger. I wonder if all those Iraqis who gave American troops the thumbs up were cunningly hedging their bets.

  5. Holms says

    I agree that it is a thumbs up reference (and hence that the validation is coming from this guy giving the speaker a constant thumbs up), but it is very poorly done for one big reason: the thumb/head is the wrong way around to be read as a thumbs up gesture. Remember, the thumbnail always faces the person giving the thumbs up, the person receiving it sees only the fleshy part of the thumb.

    The joke is lame to begin with, but this was compounded by the artist making a hash of it.

  6. Ridana says

    I’m certain it’s intended to be a “thumbs up!” reference. I’m pretty sure Wayne “Wayno” Honath is an American (as is Dan Piraro) and they write primarily for an American audience, so what it might mean to people in other parts of the world was probably not on his mind.

    The ‘3’ next to the signature indicates how many of the Bizarro stable of recurring images are in this panel. Those 3 are the Flying Saucer of Possibility to the left of the signature, the Inverted Bird on the thumb-head’s shirt, and K2 written upside down on the sleeve of the blue shirt.

  7. Mano Singham says

    Now that it has been pointed out, I agree that it must represent a ‘thumb’s up’ sign for there to be a joke at all. But what may have put me off is that a ‘thumb’s up’ sign does not involve just the thump being displayed. It also requires the other fingers to be curled up into a fist. In the absence of that context, a thumb is just a thumb.

  8. witm says

    After reading the comments I come to the conclusion that it probably works on multiple similar lines of jokes.

    My guess was ‘thumb-headed henchman’, but I’ve been paying too much attention to certain commentators covering American politics. I also agree with ahcuah at 15, fingerprint validation is obviously a straightforward joke as well, as is the fact that it may not be a thumb… so a middle finger or similar is possible.

    Worth a light snort.

  9. Heidi Nemeth says

    Sure looks like a middle finger to me. Nail in the right place, lengthy enough to be dressed in a suit and tie, and always expresses validation -- of the put down kind. Yes, worthy of a snort.

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