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I was watching comedy series, Man Seeking Woman.

A group of people was discussing what to text a girl. I mean, they were discussing how to make good texts for the girl.

Josh: Tell you what. I'm gonna start it off. "Hey, it's Josh."
General: See? Already, you've failed. You've got a comma after your "hey" and a period after "Josh." What's next, semicolons and footnotes?
Josh: Okay, fine, no... No punctuation.

Here is a video clip for the scene at 1:00.

I don't understand why General said you've failed. What's the point? I cannot find either gag point and grammar point.

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  • Too smart? You can be made fun of. Too silly? You can be made fun of. Too neat? You can be made fun of. Too lame? You can be made fun of. Actually, if someone wants to make fun of something or someone, they sure can. Punctuating sentences properly in texting surely can be made of as well. – Damkerng T. Mar 9 '17 at 12:31
  • @DamkerngT. I'm so sorry but what are you saying? I couldn't understand. – Ting Choe Mar 9 '17 at 14:25
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    What I meant was, I think the scriptwriter made fun of a certain kind of man who's seeking a woman. In our case, it's a man who pays attention to detail, who types up everything so perfectly, even in texting. The general is used as a character who's pointing out that by doing so, he's failed his mission (I guess the mission is seeking a woman). This point may or may not be true in real life, though. It's just a comedy, and the scriptwriter just used these characters as a device to get us laugh. That's all. – Damkerng T. Mar 9 '17 at 14:43
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The humor being used in this scene is rather layered, but is derived primarily from extreme analysis of a benign topic. The various characters are presenting differing personal opinions that they very strongly believe just as strongly as the next character. But there is humor because most people would not give as much thought into the particular point being discussed. Additionally, the point being discussed is humorously unimportant compared to alternate, potentially more important topics they could instead be discussing (such as the actual content of the message).

The General says "Already, you've failed" to emphasize his authority and experience in dealing with women. Josh has just started to text, so the average person would not be assumed to be able to make any sort of reasonable judgment on whether the message would be successful, and the average person would assume the message Josh typed to be acceptable. So by contradicting strongly and so quickly, the General hopes to assert himself as an expert that knows the topic so well that he already knows the result. But there is humor in this because he may not actually have that experience and authority, and merely thinks he does.

So the General's meaning is exact: he thinks Josh has failed immediately. But the reason for his statement is as a disguised boast, trying to convince the others that he is an expert.

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Here it means that he is obviously not focused on the task at hand because he still has time to think of punctuation. On the other hand it's informally accepted to omit proper punctuation from SMS.

Edit: Compare that omission with Headlinese

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  • Ah. That's why a person said "Time is critical!" So is General scolding Josh to focus on contents of the text rather than punctuation? – Ting Choe Mar 9 '17 at 12:01
  • Actually, adding punctuation doesn't spend much time. So exaggerating is a gag point? – Ting Choe Mar 9 '17 at 12:07
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    @TINGCHOE Sure, it is. Especially in context of stereotypically brisk and harsh army style. – Hector von Mar 9 '17 at 14:17

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