Sunday, December 25, 2005

Contest #33

"Oh my, Harold, I thought I packed the mackerel."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dear Captioneer,

Thanks for all your submissions (over 200,000 to date). That's right, thanks for all of them. Even the ones that are, shall we say, terrible—oops, I meant not quite right for us. Making humor is, by its nature, an uneven enterprise, even for folks who do it for a living. Often, in looking over the contests, you'll find that someone who had a very good entry in one contest submits another that completely falls flat. To be funny demands a certain kind of courage: the courage to be silly, look stupid, and, many times, not even get the payoff of a laugh. If we ever do a book about the caption contest, I think a good title might be Captions Courageous.

At Caption Contest Headquarters at The New Yorker, we receive, along with thousands of submissions every week for the contest itself (average: 7,000), many e-mails and phone calls wanting to know more about the contest. Many of these fall into the category of "Why didn't I win?" Well, what can we say, but that with 7,000 entries a week—well you do the math. Actually we have no idea what the math is or how to do it, but you get the idea.

And, even if you have a good caption, it's going to end up competing with others of a similar vein. The fact is that while there are thousands of entries for each contest, there are not thousands of different comic ideas. For example, in contest #27 over 95% of the captions could be grouped in the following categories, here shown with a few representative examples.

"We have to find a better way to record our meetings."
"Your idea is stupid!" "Your idea is stupid!"

"I thought we could use the additional feedback!"
"Even yes-men need yes-men."
"All right, let's just say we agree to agree!"

Parrots as clothes or objects
"Well, at least we didn't all wear the same tie."
"Shut up, Bob, everyone knows your parrot's a clip-on."
"I put my parrot on the same way as everybody else, Bill. One talon at a time."

"Nothing we say leaves this room."
"Well I guess that's the last time I'll ever confide in a parrot."
"Can you keep a secret?"

"The parrot's okay, but if you ask me it's a peg leg that really says you've arrived."
"This is nice but I really prefer hands-on piracy."
"Well, it's not my fault booty revenues are down this quarter."

"Every meeting it's the same—'Motion carries—more crackers!'"
"We've got to get past this issue of who wants a cracker."
"Cracker for your thoughts?"

From these we ended up picking the three finalists:
"We have to find a better way to record our meetings."
"Shut up, Bob, everyone knows your parrot's a clip-on."
"Well, it's not my fault booty revenues are down this quarter."

Each one represents a different angle on how to resolve the incongruity of the image in a satisfactorily funny way. Which one turns out to be most satisfactory and funny is a matter of taste, not truth. So enjoy the contests and the results, but don't take them too seriously or at least not so much that you have to call us about it.

Bob Mankoff
Cartoon Editor, The New Yorker

P.S. If you're looking for caption inspiration, The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker is a great place to start. This laugh-out-loud book and CD set is available at The New Yorker Store for a very reasonable price. I'll even autograph a copy for you. And because it's in such high demand, we've slashed the price of our Deluxe Edition of The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker so we can stay on top of our orders. While you're there, also look for The Complete New Yorker (book and DVDs), which not only includes every cartoon ever published but also every article, poem, advertisement, etc... Both of these are available as a combined set that makes the perfect gift for any New Yorker fan, including yourself! As always, join The Club (if you're not already a member) and receive wonderful benefits including FREE shipping* on all your orders.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Contest #32

"Well, we did say HOLIDAY character."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Contest #31

"Gimme a hundred on the U of Texas. Hook 'em horns and such!"
"Tell her you haven't seen the likes of me!"

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Contest #29

"Yes, I suppose Faith Hill is hot, Sir, but...."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Contest #28

"Dude, Willie Nelson will not foresake you."
"It's time to take this baby to the next level."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Contest #26

"We will conclude with a contemporary piece - 'Pimp Yo Ride' in A minor."

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Contest #25

"Okay, Brendan, the jokes about my hot flashes - OVER!"

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Contest #23

"Intelligent Design."

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Contest #22

"Let the record show that the ho's have it."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Contest #20

" It IS a small world after all!"

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Contest #19

"The canine is SO not treated with respect in literature."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Contest #16

"They were, they said, to no one there - or so they thought"

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Contest #15

"I can't get you out of my head" (Marsha Valenti)"

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Contest #14

"Women assume I'm merely a well-coiffed cad."

"Ever since Jose Conseco turned me on to the stuff, I've been a trading monster."

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Contest #13

"Jocks are cool, Harold, but poker dudes are dangerous."
"Honey, your inexperienced, but rich and talented backup, is demanding more playing time."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Contest #12

"You always remember your first time."

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Contest #11

"If I might paraphrase, please don't shoot the server."

Sunday, July 03, 2005


"Yes, Bozo, I do see the irony."
"Suck it up, Smokey. Don't give me that 'Tears of a Clown' crap."

Monday, June 27, 2005

Contest #9

"Just be careful what you wish for."

Monday, June 20, 2005


"I DO love him, Mother, but Marvin lives in his own little world."

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Squid Stays in the Picture
Issue of 1/24/05
This week in the magazine, The New Yorker announces the winner of its sixth Cartoon Caption Contest. This year’s illustration was drawn by Alex Gregory, a New Yorker cartoonist who is also a television-sitcom writer. Here, with The New Yorker’s Marshall Hopkins, Gregory discusses cartoons, captions, and comedy—both onscreen and on the page.

New Yorker's interview with illustrator Alex Gregory-here