AVC: The game’s pretty amazing, and you’ve already more than met your Kickstarter goal. Who do you think the game is for, really? Just nerds like your friends?
Max Temkin: We’re really surprised that anyone wants the game, to be honest. It’s cool that people do, though. If you’d asked me a month ago, I would have said that the game’s for college students, people who work at The Onion, and anyone who has a bawdy sense of humor. I’ve been surprised, though. Looking at the list of backers on Kickstarter, reputable grown-ups are actually buying the game. […]
AVC: Why did you decide to do a Kickstarter campaign?
MT: Well, because it’s totally magic. There’s zero risk. Cards Against Humanity isn’t a game that any of us would stake our money and reputations on. It’s weird and out-there. With Kickstarter, we figured out that, to make copies to send to people, we’d need $4,000. So, if people are interested and buy copies, it’ll work. If not, and we don’t make the $4,000, then whatever, it doesn’t happen. It’s a nice way to take risks with creative projects.
AVC: It seems like this game could definitely be kind of crowdsourced. Have you gotten any good submissions from fans over the years?
MT: We do have the submission box on our site, and we’ve gotten between 2,000 and 3,000 ideas. We try to keep on top of it, and every once in a while we get something pretty funny. Mostly, though, we just sit around, get beers, and think of the most horribly funny things we can.
AVC: I was reading on Kickstarter that sometimes that can be harder than you’d think. Like you really have to work to make the answers fit with the questions, and all that. Why?
MT: Part of the challenge is coming up with something that’s funny, specific, and unexpected. It has to have the characteristics of a great joke, but it has to be universal. Making new cards takes a lot of asking ourselves over and over if something’s funny, and if it works in context. Is it going to be relevant in six months?
I remember hearing this great This American Life piece where they went to the writers room at The Onion, and that’s sort of how I think our process works. Someone will throw out a card, and we’ll give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Sometimes we can be persuaded, and sometimes not. We’ll have these sprawling academic debates about, like, a windmill full of corpses. Is that funny or not? Then we’re talking about, well, what is humor? What’s the essence of humor?
AVC: A lot of the topics on your cards—“Picking up girls at the abortion clinic,” “Queefing,” “Rip Torn drop-kicking anti-Semitic lesbians,” and so on—push some pretty clear social boundaries. Do you ever think twice about anything you consider including in the game?
MT: It’s definitely tough, because we’re by and large a pretty liberal group. The more taboo it is, or the more shocking and funny it is, those things are easy laughs. The trick for us is to recognize that something’s a source of humor and then go somewhere new with it. We’re equal opportunity offenders. Like, if we include an ethnic joke, we don’t want it to be like every ethnic joke. We put in an Asian joke, but didn’t want to go with the boring old tropes, so we included, “Asians who aren’t good at math.” That’s way more hilarious than Asians on the math team. It’s a whole story right there on one card.