Though he first made his name as one of the writers on the Progressive Boink websitenote , Bois started his ascent into one of SBNation's most prominent creators with SupperJumpin', an attempt to make the saddest professional sport in the world. He also did some retrospective writing on his previous job working for the Radioshack Company to discuss why it deserved its ultimate fate. He then turned to the world of video games with NBA Y2K and Breaking Madden, where he bent the world of the NBA 2K and Madden NFL games in all sorts of different ways, creating several fan-favorite characters (such as the rotund but sweet Clarence BEEFTANK) and memes throughout.
Then, he made one of his most impressive works of fiction and surrealism to date: The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles, detailing ex-NFL player Tim Tebow's trek through the Canadian Football League.
He has also made many videos for both SB Nation's and his own YouTube channels, with his most notable series being Pretty Good, a show about stories that are...well...pretty good (even if they have nothing to do with sports), and Chart Party, where he'd make visualizations of odd and sometimes interesting statistics regarding certain athletes or sports.
People here likely know him for his multimedia story 17776, where the world only has ridiculously long games of American Football to think about anymore.
Most of his work is now placed in his own blog on SB Nation, called A Huge Dog.
Works by Jon Bois with their own page:
Yer Ol' Buddy Jon contains examples of:
- Acrofatic: Clarence BEEFTANK was 400 lbs. and yet strong enough to demolish most of the virtual players he ran into, but also capable of jumping almost his full-height when translated into being a Basketball player
- An Aesop:
- The Bob Emergency: No matter how you study history, you will always find it.
- The Dorktown Seattle Mariners retrospective: Success is not always relevant to enjoying a good sports story.
- Almighty Idiot: His interpretation of "the god of the 24 universe" is that if that world had a deity, that deity was basically a small child smashing action figures together. He then recounts the history of the various Presidents over the show's run, in the voice of a small child calling half of them "NERDS" or "SO BORING" and killing them or their loved ones off at the drop of a hat while making explosion sound effects with his mouth.
- Anachronic Order: A minor example. Lonnie Smith covers the 1991 World Series, where Smith made a baserunning error that arguably lost the Atlanta Braves the Series. Then Jon rewinds the clock a few months and talks about Lonnie winning the 1991 NLCS and making peace with John Schuerholz.
- And That's Terrible: Directed at the Phillie Phanatic in the Lonnie Smith episode of Pretty Good, when he fires pork products at a pig mascot.
- Antiquated Linguistics: BEEFTANK's writing style is a mix of this and childlike misspellings.
- Anti-Nihilist: A lot of his work carries this viewpoint, often singling out sports and entertainment derived from it as an ultimate example of it.It doesn't matter. Not mattering can be a lot of fun.
- Apocalyptic Log: The final edition of NBA Y2k is Jon entering draft after draft of the worst created players possible after every NBA season, and is punctuated by official looking scraps showing the growing number of talentless players who are slowly beginning to eclipse the talented, finally ending with a Madness Mantra that gives the entry it's title:Basketball will never return to what it was. At this stage in its history, basketball is little more than a collection of carbon and rubber. The orbits and movements of its particles is powered only by inertia left over by those who played and loved the game in decades past.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: While reporting on the true story of a man who flew via a lawn chair with weather balloons tied to it, the one detail Jon has trouble believing is the price of the lawn chair: $109 or $110 (in 1982 money), according to two different newspapers.
- Artistic License Statistics: What if Barry Bonds played baseball without a bat? would probably require multiple iterations of the simulation to get the correct result, since it's possible for random number generator to spit out multiple "lucky" results that would inflate the fictional Bonds' statistics above the averages indicated by data. Basically the more numbers you generate, the more likely they are to distribute evenly and even a prolonged "lucky" streak would eventually be averaged out.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: How Jon describes "Fun n' Gun" Basketball, which emphasizes scoring, above all else.
- Author Appeal: Old technology, weird or obscure historical information, and using sports as a lens to examine society. Naturally, all of this reaches its zenith in 17776, which is about sentient space probes talking about sports and history.
- Author Tract: Randall Cunningham seizes the means of production is a breakdown of the 1987 NFL players strike, and it's very clearly pro labor unions. Jon himself doesn't even bother disguising this, ending a lengthy defense of the benefits of unions by saying "if you're [anti-union], you're an asshole."
- Balloonacy: The Pretty Good episode "Larry Walters has a flying lawn chair and a BB gun" covers the incident where Larry flew by attaching military surplus weather balloons to his lawn chair.
- Berserk Button:
- Jon is usually pretty affable, but the reasoning behind why the 1904 Olympics was as bad as it was actually causes him to raise his voice.
- Watching Lonnie Smith cost Atlanta Braves the World Series had similar effect.
- Beyond the Impossible: Happens to be a theme for his work, as he likes to look at statistical outliers and ridiculous flights of fancy where the limits of sport are tested.
- Big "NO!": Ep.5 of Pretty Good is just titled "NO!!!!!!", because that's the radio commentator's reaction to John Carney's failed extra point kick.
- Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: Episode 4 of Fumble Dimension is about taking suggestions from fans to edit a golf course in The Golf Club 2019, then playing it. Naturally, the course was littered with objects in nonsensical locations, the terrain was horrifically difficult to golf around, and almost every hole had both Jon and Kofie shooting way above the seven stroke par.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: From the Koo Dae-Sung episode of Pretty Good, when describing pitcher Randy Johnson, to the beat of Young Widows' In And Out Of Youth:
Five Cy Young Awards
2nd on all time Strikeout list
Fastball once clocked at 102 miles per hour
2004 (Age 38): 245.2 Innings Pitched, 2.60 ERA, Threw a Perfect Game
Killed a bird one time
[shows the clip of Johnson accidentally killing a dove with a pitch]
- Brick Joke: Jon begins this Breaking Madden article by saying if he were in charge of Washington's football team, he would move them to Brooklyn, change their name and logo, and make the uniforms pink. In the video at the very end of the article, that's exactly what he does.
- In this one, there's the guy who pissed in his mother-in-law's sink. During two separate marriages.
- California Doubling: When Jon published a collection of poems about New York City, for some reason the article had a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge. And then the followup poem collection came with a photo of downtown Milwaukee.
- Calvinball: Seems to have a lot of interest in finding ways to create this within previously existing sports video games and through the rules of American Football. Alternatively, he sometimes creates these with the intent of having it be anything but entertaining.
- The Cameo: Appears in unrelated projects for SBNation, like the Shutdown Fullcast, though he usually brings his affable, bizarre nature with him.
- Celebrity Resemblance: In the ''Pretty Good" episode on Lonnie Smith (the baseball player), he shows a picture of Lonnie alongside a picture of the jazz musician Dr. Lonnie Smith, and concludes they might actually be the same person.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: His twitter account, and some of his written content. He takes personal delight in odd things.
- Crack Defeat: The first episode of Pretty Good is all about the time Koo Dae-Sung, a complete amateur on offense, inexplicably bested one of the greatest pitchers ever, hitting a double and then stealing home on the next at-bat.Jon Bois: And there's a legend I can confirm. Koo Dae-Sung, who had never swung a bat or run a base for money in his life, blew up Randy Johnson, one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and then he scored from second on a bunt.
- Crapsack World: His interpretation of the world of 24: by the end of the series, America has been struck by a nuclear blast and hasn't had a regular, peaceful transfer of power for years, with all its Presidents in that period being either assassinated or forced out of the position after having been exposed as collaborators in various nebulous conspiracies. Nearly all named or main characters have been offed or had their life ruined in some other way, and Jack Bauer himself is a Death Seeker Nominal Hero who has watched everyone around him die and wants to die as well. Much of the video focuses on how messed-up it is that such a Crapsack World ended up being so emblematic of the era and even seemingly influenced foreign policy.
- Cruel Mercy: As Cumberland's football team is getting utterly curbstomped by Georgia Tech, the Cumberland coach appeals to John Heisman to end the game at halftime. Heisman agrees to shorten the game... but only by five minutes.Jon Bois: Sometimes, a weak expression of pity is the deepest act of cruelty.
- Crippling Overspecialization: Has an aside in Pretty Good: "Koo Dae-Sung" about the trend in sports (and society in general) for jobs to get more and more specialized, and how hilarious it is when random happenstance forces an athlete to do something outside their specific job, like a pitcher who has never done so before being forced to bat in a professional baseball game.
- Curbstomp Battle: Pretty Good Ep.10 and Ep.12 are about absolutely hellacious sports-related beatings. 10 is about a personal grudge that was taken out on a football field. 12 is more about how the score was so absurdly high and lopsided that it's been set down in the record books as incorrect.
- David vs. Goliath: A metaphor brought up a fair bit in his 24 video, where he points out the inherent crisis in a national identity that professes to be a Fan of the Underdog while living in the most powerful country on the planet. According to him, Americans want to have the feeling of beating the odds against a greater obstacle (like David) but also want to exult in their power and privilege (like Goliath). The reason Jack Bauer's life sucks so much is because he needs to be the underdog, as a symbol of American identity, despite his battles being analogous to real-life conflicts that were Curb Stomp Battles."America is Goliath. But in Jack Bauer, we could reimagine America as David. And the thing about Goliaths is that they always wanna be David."
- The Determinator: How he describes real life NFL Quarterback Tom Brady, mostly tongue in cheek. During Breaking Madden on the other hand, he decided to throw him into a scenario where Tom simply couldn't get away with the ball to score...until he somehow did. Three-hundred and fourty five tries later.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Chart Party on the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament points out that the tournament is largely dominated by less than 1% of the entire country in the sport, with hundreds of other teams allowed into the tournament, but otherwise only ever allowed to dream that they might be able to advance past a certain point, while the usual suspects blast their way into championship after championship through sheer resources and reputation that allows them to get all the tools necessary. He actively invites people at the end of the video to tell everyone what they think it's familiar to in the comments.
- Downer Ending:
- The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles end this way.
- During his Chart Party about the Unending trainwreck that the Cleveland Browns have been since their return to the NFL, he has just one...only one...reason for Cleveland fans to have hope: He's just kidding.
- The Chart Party on Larry Walters marvels at how Larry did an incredibly reckless thing based on a childhood dream and clearly had the support of people on the ground who cared deeply about him, and the work of others who were able to make sure he got out of it safely. It ends talking about how he took his own life some 10 years later for unknown reasons.
- "NO!!!!!!" covers the December 21, 2003 Saints v. Jaguars game, where the Saints made a beautiful and unprecedented three-lateral touchdown to get just one point away from the Jaguars in the final seconds of the game... only for kicker John Carney to miss the extra point kick.
- Drugs Are Bad: In his episode on Lonnie Smith, Jon completely freaks out when he realizes that the three most notorious cocaine addicts on the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals were also the two best hitters and best pitcher on the team. A team that won that year's World Series.Jon Bois: [voiceover] Does coke make you awesome at baseball? No. No no no! Nope, nope, nope, [slaps table] nope! I'm putting my head in the sand, and I refuse to make a 20-minute ad for cocaine. No, I'm not doing it.
[Cut to Jon in his office. He addresses the camera:]
Jon Bois: Alright, if there are any kids watching, I don't want you coming and hollering to your parents, like "Mr. Jon told me doing coke's great, I'm gonna go do coke now!" No. That's not what I'm saying. I haven't finished the story yet. The bad part's coming. Okay, stick around.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Early episodes of Pretty Good and Chart Party had licensed music. There also were some much shorter clips, about single plays or stats, which got phased out later.
- Epic Fail: In the second part of the "Our quest to either fix or ruin soccer" episode of Fumble Dimension Jon's tenure as coach of Fumble Chaos ends after 53 days in charge because his play was so bad that the team goes on a losing streak that breaks the chart.
- The Fool: In "The Search for the Saddest Punt in the World", this is how Jon describes the 2013 Dolphins in their October 31st game against the Bengals. They were punting like they wanted to lose, but had victory thrust upon them anyway, via a wildly unlikely tackle-safety.Jon Bois: With number 7 we learn that if the Fates have decided that you're going to win, you will be dragged, kicking and screaming, to that win, no matter how much you don't want to. [...] When the Fates decide that you're gonna win, they lay opportunity at your feet. You can try to overthink or cower your way out of it, but the win will always find you. Sorry, Dolphins. You won.
- G.I.F.T.: Discussed in Pretty Good: "The Dumbest Boy Alive", where a bodybuilding forum thread—about working out every other day—descends into a petty argument between people who can't agree how many days are in a week.
- Inferred Holocaust: In his video on 24, he makes a pretty good case that America is most likely on the verge of collapse. It's had nine presidents in under two decades, and seen only one peaceful transfer of power in the meantime. Even aside from the actual destruction shown in the series, faith in the government is at an all-time low and the government itself is probably falling apart at the seams to accommodate the constant leadership switches and regular purges of conspirators.
- Instantly Proven Wrong: In Pretty Good: "Koo Dae-Sung", color commentator Tim McCarver predicts that Koo's at-bat will be the "biggest give-up" of the season thus far. Koo hits a double, while McCarver's still talking.Jon Bois: Y'all hear that? Tim McCarver's prediction was so wrong, that it was proven wrong before he had even finished saying it.
- Interface Screw: Pretty Good Episode 12 is about a Basketball game with an astronomically high score, and is divided into chapters, each opening with a quote from The Iliad. But when he gets to the point where he gets to the scoring error he noticed, the chapter graphic is changed to all-caps ERROR messages in place of the title, the on-screen clock that counts down to the start of the chapter is broken, and the sound cue plays backwards.
- Instrumental Theme Tune: Much of Bois' work reuses a small set of synth and jazz stock music, and at least one has graduated to full on theme song ("Soundtracks" for Dorktown).
- It's Personal:
- Pretty Good Ep. 10 highlights John Heisman's furious rampage over the 1916 Cumberland College football team, complete with a moment of cruel mercy, a score that mirrored the baseball loss that infuriated him in the first place, and the total, complete destruction of the way points were used to describe this game.
- The Dorktown Seattle Mariners retrospective series shows that this is in play for Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. towards the New York Yankees as a result of how they were treated by them in the past.
- "Just Joking" Justification: Dissected in Pretty Good: "The Dumbest Boy Alive":Jon Bois: So, on the one hand "I was only trolling" is kind of the ultimate internet punk-ass move. If they were actually trolling, they would just keep on trolling, because that is what trolls do. Basically they only pull this card out when they're being thoroughly humiliated. They want you to think "Ooh, I'm an evil genius, this was part of my grand social experiment." Nah, you're just not that smart.
- Jerkass Woobie: His interpretation of Jack Bauer. By his account, Jack Bauer is a violent asshole, a Torture Technician, and more of a danger to his partners than his enemies, but his life also sucks so hard and he lives in such a Crapsack World that he ends up being sympathetic anyway. Bois puts in the case that Jack Bauer probably suffered more than any character in fiction over the show's long run.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: In Chart Party: "The Search for the Saddest Punt in the World", he compares punting to giving up, but grudgingly admits that sometimes a punt really is the smartest move for a team. Of course, the whole point of the episode is to find (and criticize) punts that clearly weren't the smart choice. Even if a few of the most seemingly egregious punts, he's forced to admit that several of them were probably the right call.
- The outcomes of the games in which the 10 saddest punts took place is surprising, though. See Spoof Aesop below.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: In Chart Party: "The Search for the Saddest Punt in the World", Jon goes over an ineligible entry where a 4th down play deep in enemy territory embarrassingly ends with a desperate pooch punt. Jon doesn't have a clip, and surmises that the NFL drove the footage of the play to the desert and buried it.
- Mean Boss: Had multiple while he worked at Radioshack, but he blames their issues on the idea that managing a Radioshack will do that to you.
- Missing Episode: Pretty Good Ep.4, about how Soviet Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov successfully prevented a nuclear war, was taken out of rotation because of a Jump Scare musical sting he wanted to edit out. It hasn't returned to the Internet since.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Chart Party pans, tilts, and zooms the camera all over the featured charts, and the soundtrack often intensifies wildly during moments where Jon isn't talking.
- Never Live It Down: According to Jon, Lonnie Smith. In something of a zig-zagged example, Lonnie Smith did many notable things during his baseball career, both positive and negative, yet Jon states that what he's most remembered for is his baserunning error that cost the Atlanta Braves the World Series in 1991 in Game 7.Jon: They don't remember him for the pigeon toes, the Phillie Phanatic, the coke benders, the bottles, all the World Series rings, the murder plot, one of the greatest comebacks ever, or the World Series home run record. Nope, it's this shit.
- "No. Just... No" Reaction: At the conclusion of "What if Barry Bonds had played without a baseball bat?", Jon gives this reaction himself when his simulation indicates that Barry Bonds would have had an on-base percentage of .608 if he played the 2004 season without a bat, just .001 less than his actual OBP (and the all-time record as of 2019) that season. He's so dumbfounded by this result that he practically begs YouTube commenters to challenge it.
- No Pronunciation Guide: Jon Bois is outright inconsistent on how his last name is pronounced. In some videos, he pronounces it like "boys", and in others he pronounces it "bwah" (as if it were French).
- Not so Fast, Bucko!: In "The Dumbest Boy Alive", after Josh returns to the thread to say he was just trolling and the story of the thread appears to have wrapped up, Jon makes a speech about the futility of Justin's attempts to get Josh to bow to him, then cuts himself short when he realizes that the thread remained open past this point and that people were continuing to argue over the nuances of what "working out every other day" means.Jon Bois: Wait, is this still going? Is this still going, oh my God!
- One Steve Limit: Averted in "Lonnie Smith" from Pretty Good, which also features music from one Dr. Lonnie Smith, and in "History of the Seattle Mariners" from Dorktown, which briefly shows the career of every MLB player named Randy. But the greatest aversion of this from Jon is The Bob Emergency, which exclusively goes through the careers of athletes named Bob, even uncovering one obscure fighter who averts it on his own with the name Bob Bob.
- Painting the Medium: Much of his work likes to mess with this a little bit.
- Please Subscribe to Our Channel: His most consistent running gag is parodying and subverting the boilerplate "Please like, comment, and subscribe" messages that most career youtubers stick at the end of every video.
Jon Bois: Looking for more great content like this? That's good. Um, hope you find it. See ya. [walks away]
- From Chart Party: "The Terrelle Pryor Problem":
For more videos from Jon Bois, click the whatever button and maybe videos will come out? I don't know, I need to go to bed.
- Chart Party: "My Favorite Worst Baseball Player" has this message after the end credits:
There are more episodes of Chart Party on Youtube. If you're interested you can go search for them or whatever. I mean, you're a smart person, you don't need me to explain the internet to you.
- From Chart Party: "The History of Every NFL Team":
Jon Bois: Looking for more great videos on YouTube? [beat] I'ma level with you: I think this is the only good YouTube video. And I haven't even finished making this video, so this one might not even be good, I don't know. So you might be kinda out of luck.
- From Chart Party: "Every NFL Score Ever":
for more episodes of Pretty Good, I don't know, just click around, you're bound to find them one way or another
- From Pretty Good, Ep.10:
you can subscribe to this channel if you want, but I'm not really comfortable with asking people to do things. if you wanted to, i'm sure you would have already
- Precision F-Strike: Jon is known for running his mouth a bit, but in his 6 part series: The History of the Seattle Mariners (made alongside Alex Rubenstein) he holds his tongue through the first 4 episodes. Then after the video traces the course of the Mariners record breaking 2001 season a few minutes into the 5th:Jon: *beat* Alex, what the FUCK was that?
- Professional Gambler: Why do I choose this for a living is about professional poker players.
- Random Events Plot: The Troy St. - DeVry game, by itself, defies any attempts to retell it as a story.Jon Bois: This game is not a story that needs to be told in any particular order. There's no narrative arc; there's no climax or anticlimax. There are only a thousand sledgehammers falling out of a thundercloud. That isn't a story.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: A large portion of Jon's work involves forming absurdist framing devices to highlight and tell the stories of real life sporting events and players.
- Also applies in specific to Randall Cunningham Seizes the means of production; at the time, Vox writers were going through a protracted unionization battle with the company.
- Self-Deprecation: Frequently makes jokes at his own expense, like him being fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, his profession being useless, the fact that he often makes poor decisions, or that he doesn't have a stellar resume for contesting official documents.
- Series Mascot: For Breaking Madden and NBA Y2K, it was Clarence BEEFTANK, a 400 lb., 5'1 cannonball of a created player.
- Short-Runner: Many of his projects have pretty short runs before he moves onto other things, with his shortest being Card Show with Ryan Nanni. Stuff like Chart Party, on the other hand, rarely runs out of content so he mostly just infrequently makes new episodes.
- Signature Style: After his very early work, Jon started using Google Earth to produce animations of data and locations, and it quickly evolved into much more elaborate displays, especially in 17776. While not totally unique, it's unusual enough that it's common to see comment sections on videos filled with surprise at what he's used the program to do.
- Simpleton Voice: In Pretty Good: "The Dumbest Boy Alive", Jon uses one for TheJosh until he comes back at the end of the episode to say he was trolling.
- Soul-Sucking Retail Job: His retrospective writing on RadioShack makes it clear that this is in place for many of the employees, and even the managers to an extent.
- Spoof Aesop: In Chart Party: "The Search for the Saddest Punt in the World", Jon concludes that unnecessary punting is "the signifier of a loser. This is what losing teams do." But then Jon admits this isn't actually true because, of the ten saddest punts that he examined, six of the offending teams went on to win those games, and one went on to tie. And of the three teams that lost, one of them the 2000 Baltimore Ravens immediately followed that with a ten-game winning streak and a Super Bowl victory. Jon concludes that he really has no idea what lesson should be learned from all this.
- Straight Man and Wise Guy: In series that Jon co-hosts, he usually plays the role of Wise Guy to his co-host, especially in Fumble Dimension. For example, in Episode 4, while Kofie mainly talks about Jon struggling through the course, Jon mainly goes off on tangents unrelated to golf, such as explaining how to make soup and building a new society on a boat where tomato paste isn't sold in cans.
- Values Dissonance: Invoked. One frequently recurring thread in Jon's work is that he doesn't really care about cheating in sports, especially when it comes to doping, in part because the punishments for cheating are often arbitrary and inconsistently enforced, and in part because cheating has existed as long as sports have.
- With Friends Like These...: He has a good time pointing out that, in 24, invariably the biggest threat to Jack Bauer's sidekicks, partners, and bosses ended up being... Jack Bauer. The funniest (well, for a certain definition of "funny") of the bunch was poor Paul Raines, who ended up being beaten up by Jack, tortured with an electric cord by Jack, still tried to help Jack with fighting terrorists and took a bullet, had a doctor who was operating to save his life dragged away from the table to operate on a terrorist instead by Jack, and expired from his wounds to let Jack have sex with his ex-wife.
- Wham Shot: At the end of Part 4 of The History of the Seattle Mariners, Jon begins introducing Ken Griffey Jr.'s successor as the leading man of the Mariners franchise, over a simple shot of an extended arm, holding a bat by the knob in a Mizuno batting glove-clad hand. He never actually says Ichiro's name, but the picture is more than enough for anyone familiar with baseball.
- You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Likens the Troy State-DeVry game in Ep.12 of Pretty Good to the Tower of Babel, arguing that the number of points from both sides was huge enough to defy reason and comprehension.