How it works, is that every episode hinges on some character doing something stupid (overhearing the word "ring" and jumping to the conclusion that two other characters are getting married, for instance, or accidentally burning up somebody's season tickets in the toaster), and then doing stupider and stupider things in reaction to the problems their first stupid thing caused -- because they're carrying the Stupidity Ball -- until it ends with them learning the Life Lesson of the Week and everything resets.
And then, in the next episode, somebody else gets the Stupidity Ball, and off they go. Apparently, at scripting meetings, it wasn't unusual to hear somebody say, "Who's carrying the Stupidity Ball this week?" Whoever had the Stupidity Ball was the one making the plot happen.
It's an interesting idea, in its own "TV is a vast wasteland" kind of way -- because when you churn out a lot of content over a long period of time, you have GOT to come up with ways to work quickly. You can't spend a week agonizing over the story, when you've got a week total to shoot the whole episode. And it's the same way with comic strips. Drawing the strip may take forever, but it's sitting around and thinking up what happens next that's often the most difficult part.
So thinking about this concept, I wondered if I ever used the Stupidity Ball in SJ or NN, and it turns out that a few times I have. But the problem is, on some gut level, I don't believe in the Stupidity Ball, and so whenever I try to use it, it comes out fake. I know on an intellectual level that there really are some Frighteningly Moronic people out there -- I've been forced by job or rooming to spend unpleasantly large amounts of time with some of them -- but I just can't understand them, so I can't convincingly get into the mindset.
So instead, my strips (and SJ in particular) have used other things to better effect. Some you may have spotted are the Angst Ball, the Obsessed Over Tiffany Ball, the Off In Their Own World Ball (also known as the Two Different Conversations Ball), and the Life Turnaround Ball. In my mind, I can almost hear the play-by-play...
"Well, it's a lovely day here in The Suburban Jungle, there's not a cloud in the panel. Coming out onto the field is Leona, who picks up the Obsessed Over Tiffany Ball and runs with it! Tiffany puts up a block with the Life Turnaround Ball -- but Leona passes the Obsessed Over Tiffany ball to Leonard, who quickly drops the Angst Ball and runs it in for a score! Now here comes Yin, a very adept handler of the Off In Their Own World Ball, who performs a great changeup and hands the Two Different Conversations Ball to Tiffany. But -- oh, no! Tiffany is standing there blinking, so Drezzer snatches the Two Different Conversations Ball and chases after Conrad, leaving Tiffany to pick up the Angst Ball, the only one she can play here..."
I have a strange mind. =)
PS: No jokes about my comic strips having a lot of balls, please!