Even his name is a funny juxtapostion. The impressive-sounding "Oppenheimer" carries an air of dignified intelligence; "Randy" sounds like the guy next door who, though he's not exactly a mental giant, is really nice and will let you borrow his power tools.

Perhaps, in this case, both descriptions are apt.

Randy Oppenheimer is a delightful character who has appeared in several Usenet newsgroups. With his badly-in-need-of-an-editor writing style, he’s often accused of being a troll, or dismissed as being stupid.

It’s arguable that the troll accusation is warranted - with the exception of one key element: Most common trolls will invade newsgroups and either maliciously insult the regulars or spout nonsense and obscenities with no redeeming value. But Randy comes in like the first snow in November: pure, clean, and with the gentlest hint of a bite buried under the soft layer of fluff.

And he definitely isn't stupid.

He’s akin to an impish faerie travelling through Usenet sprinkling his mischievous messages like pixie dust and leaving it up to the reader to find the underlying joke.

There are those who don’t get the joke and hate him. And there are still others who get it, but hate him anyway. However he does have his fans who are thrilled whenever they catch a sighting of a new post under his name.

It was in 1996 that Randy first presented his unique literary stylings to the world of Usenet in the alt.comedy.improvisation group. He stayed for a few months, presumably to test the waters before heading out into what would become his permanent home in alt.comedy.standup. It was there, amongst a collection of cynical, road-hardened, and sometimes bitter stand up comics, that Randy blossomed fully into the sweet and loveable innocent that his admirers have grown to cherish.

Over the years, he has shared many details about his life and philosophies and has given his regular readers a vivid mental picture of who he is.

In his mid 20’s, he lives in North Dakota with his mother and stepsister Terri (who is, apparently, very annoying). He's the managing paperboy at a local newspaper, wears a hat with ear flaps, and is an aspiring writer and works diligently at honing his craft (all the while neglecting any semblance of accurate spelling or grammar). He is a faithful Christian who never curses, and his only known vice appears to be the occasional overindulgence of cherry 'Slushee Sues' at 'Hamburger Dan’s'. And although Randy has had a few girlfriends in his time, and has never discussed such personal matters publicly, it is universally assumed that he is a virgin.

He is the epitome of wholesomeness; The embodiment of the expression 'Too good to be true'. Which is fitting considering that none of it is true.

It’s almost painful to admit this openly, but 'Randy Oppenheimer' doesn’t exist. Just like Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and maybe God, he’s the fabrication of someone’s creative imagination.

Randy’s detractors have often used his imaginary status as the basis for their intolerance of him, and, though I don’t share this viewpoint, I do understand why some find him very, very irritating.

He’s not an easy read. His spelling is appalling, he punctuates almost every sentence with an exclamation point, and rambles on and on and on. But if you read him with an open mind (and patience!) and peek under the veneer of his bad grammar, hackneyed expressions, and his over-the-top cheerfulness, you’ll find some hilariously brilliant satire, keen insight, and even the occasional subtle, albeit pointed, insult.

To put it another way, what you’ll find is a highly intelligent individual who’s playing dumb; and playing it brilliantly.

The person who is behind "Randy" has given us many shining moments of genius in alt.comedy.standup. He has also spent some time in other newsgroups. Perhaps the most interesting was the few days he spent in alt.suicide.holiday or, as it’s otherwise known: ASH.

ASH is a Usenet group devoted to people who are contemplating or actively planning suicide. Unsurprisingly, it’s not a place known for its humor. It’s a dark and sometimes melodramatic group frequented by troubled people who are confused or in tremendous pain and believe taking their own lives might be the only way to end their pain. And they don’t like it at all when strangers come in and argue about their decision or attempt to show them that they have reasons to live.

This is Randy’s first post to ASH:

From: Oppenhiem
Newsgroups: alt.suicide.holiday
Date: 1999/04/15
Subject: Hey there Everyone! Let's Cheer UP!!!
Okay you guys! I am kind of new here and I know I should'nt be popping off about what I think right off the bat especially since I have never tried to kill myself or even made plans like alot of you guys but heck! I can't beleive some of what I am reading!!!

No offence but it is kind of depressing is all!!!!!
There are alot of things in the country to be thankful for!!!! And before you go "Okay! Here it comes the Precher!" I just want to ask for you to THINK about it is all!

First of all it seems like some of you suicide guys are sitting around thinking horrible thoughts no offence!
And then others of you are NOT sitting around and are just in a job you hate or in a town that stinks or have a husband or wife that ran away laughing and you are trying to keep on keeeping on but feel real bad about it and wonder whats the use!!!
And maybe you are right! Maybe it all does'nt matter so how come we go on any way? What are we, a bunch of puppets being laughed at by a mean God? And heck! How do we know God is not dead anyway and just left us here like some kid that shocked himself to death on his electric train set and is just laying next to the train tunnel with a frozen look of shock and suprise glued on his face while the electric train just keeps going around and around and around?
And heck! There are too many people on the planet any way and only a few people get a chance to matter and when they do get to matter they mess it up any way like President Clinton and Monaca Louinsky!
Heck! Alot of people probably got killed in Korsavo today? Did YOU feel it? I know I did'nt! So what's it matter? Just don't turn on CNN and you don't have to even think about it!
And the press lies too so even the nice and good storys could be just a big load! Heck! How do we really know if Mother Teresa did'nt slap starving kids in the back of the head when she got frustrated?? And what kind of Saint is that anyway? She could be nothing but carmal colored sugar water!! Just like Pepsi!!
And maybe you might be right about all that! Heck! I'm no expert on why we are here! I just have to guess the best I can is all!
And here is just MY guess!
I think we have to have a passion for our lives! A real honest passion for it!
And heck, if you don't, then just fake it!!
Now I know your going "What? What are you up to Randy? What do you mean fake it? What are you trying to pull any way?"
Well to that I say let tell you all a little story!
Once upon a time there was this guy we will call "Joe." Joe was a drunk. A MEAN drunk! And a sleezy PIMP too! And he was really ugly with a big bumpy face! And crossed eyes too! And he spit when he talked too! Yup! Joe was kind of messed up and he drank becuase he was depressed and he was depressed becuase he drank! And his face did'nt cheer him up either! And his whores kept trying to sneak in his cottage at night and kill him when he was just trying to get some sleep too!
So anyway one day Joe was walking along a dirt road and he saw a carrage drive by and saw a beutiful princess in it!
Joe thought "Heh heh heh! I think I will try to fool that dumb princess into marrying me! Heh heh heh!"
So he put a mask on to hide his face! And he presented himself at her castle as a prince from far away and she believed him!
So he fools her! She falls in love! But there was a problem for Joe! This princess was really nice! And smart too! And had a great sense of humor and everything else!
Guess what? Joe fell in LOVE with her!
They got married too! But Joe kept the mask on becuase he knew it she saw him without it she would know he lied and kick him out! By the way, I guess becuase she did'nt figure out the mask thing for so long I guess you could say she was smart but not THAT smart no offence.
Anyway one day the princess and Joe were out in the castle courtyard and as chance had it, one of Joe's old whores had heard about Joe and found him in the court yard and yelled for him to come over. The princess did'nt see this.
So the whore goes "Hey! Who the heck to you think you ARE Joe? You are not a PRINCE! Your nothing but a drunken pimp! And you know what? If you don't take that mask off right now, I'm going to go over there and TELL on you to the princess! How do you like THAT?!"
So Joe goes "Okay! Okay! I'll take off the mask! Just stay away from the princess okay? I don't want her to be talking to whores."
So the whore agees if he takes off the mask she'll just leave!
So Joe walks up to the princess and goes "Honey! Don't be mad, but there is something I have to show you." And she goes, "Okay."
And Joe takes off the mask and guess what? His face now looked like the handsome mask! No bumps! And his eyes were straiter than strait and he was'nt drooling even!
So the princess still loved him and the whore skanked away!
And that just goes to prove that through love you can change from a messed up drunk pimp to a handsome prince but you have to find something you love to give yourself to is all!
You just have to decide to play the part until it plays you is all!!!
And then do it every day!!!
Oh and by the way the reverse way works too so be careful with your mask if you know what I'm talking about!!
Hope this helps!
Randy Oppenheimer

Despite his good intentions, the ASH regulars didn't find Randy very humorous or endearing. They swarmed over him like enraged hornets and chased him out.

I suppose one could argue that he was being disrespectful by going into ASH with his message of hope, but he didn't stick around and continually antagonize anyone. He figured out pretty quickly they weren't going to be receptive to him and he left quietly in search of milder pastures. His defeat was sad, but I like to imagine that at least one not-yet-completely-lost human being somewhere read the line "So the princess still loved him and the whore skanked away!" and laughed out loud.

There has been a lot of speculation regarding who the actual man (or woman) is behind the curtain of Randy Oppenheimer. Many assume it's one of the more talented and prolific regulars who frequent alt.comedy.standup, others have suggested it might be Emo Philips or some other well-known comedian who's just doing it for a laugh. A few people claim to know for a fact who he is but, perhaps out of respect, have never publicly "outed" him.

Whoever he is, he's deposited a few nuggets of gold in the vermin-infested cesspool that is Usenet. And for that, I thank him.

Sadly, Randy doesn't come around much anymore. He occasionally stops in for a quick comment or two, but he doesn't stay long. Maybe his creator has been busy with real life pursuits. Or maybe "Randy" just stopped being fun for him and he's now trying his hand at being one of the many venom-hurling Anti-Randys that are so prevalent in Usenet.

Wherever (and whoever) he is now, Google has all of it archived. (http://groups.google.com/)

If you should ever find yourself drifting aimlessly on the Internet with a couple of hours to kill, consider using that time to discover the joy of Randy Oppenheimer. It might make for a refreshing change from porn no offence.

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