Expert reveals tips for winning The New Yorker cartoon caption contest

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New Yorker comics in a nutshell. Wit, not hilarity. Think of the kind of punchline Eustace Tilley would appreciate.

Or put another way:

Hey, have you heard that one about the difference between me, Wit, and my loutish cousin, Hilarity? No? Okay, so I walk into a bar, you see, very unassuming, and order a martini. Then the bartender, Hilarity, hauls off and squirts me in the face with a seltzer bottle, ruining my nice new camel hair suit, dousing my monocle and my watch fob, soaking my cravat. So, do I let him have what for, and blow my top? I do not. I simply say:
Sorry, I believe I said ‘very dry’.

—Chip Kidd, The Learners


Christ, what an asshole!


Obligatory sensiblechucklemagazine.gif


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I prefer Dysfunctional Family Circus


That’s pretty good. What came to my mind was:

“‘Have a three-way with my wife’, you said. ‘It will be fun’, you said.”

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To be brief, concise and to the point, to get your message across quickly, precisely and with an economy of words without undue delay or hesitation, that is the soul of wit.


A couple things -

When they switched to reader-judging of the contests, my disdain for humanity increased several fold (the dumb things people think are funny, the insanely long captions, the not getting the part of who is actually supposed to be talking - it goes on and on).

And, I like to go here: The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest Dataset to torture myself by looking at this caption disaster porn. And, I’ll also check to see how far down my caption is in the list if I submitted one (I think the highest I ever got was top 20 or 30).

Sometimes, even their covers have something to say.

… and wait – there’s more…


This New Yorker cartoon intrigued me when I saw it as a child. I still have no idea what it means, if anything. And because of that, I’ve submitted the caption “Last night I heard a cicada” to several New Yorker cartoon caption contests (I figure someone will recognize the reference).


(obligatory CanCon)

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