Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The New New Yorker Loses Its Cool 

Write your own damn Captain Hook caption here.

My cartoon caption contest entries (for example, What can I do? They all have passes.) are hands-down funnier than anything the judges are putting on the short list for voting, and it's getting pretty annoying. I mean, who wants to be disappointed with the last page of their favorite high-slash-nobrow publication week after week? It wears on you.

For a while, I thought it was just the contest judges. I tried to shrug it off. But then, a few weeks ago, they published this terrible, horrible, no good very unfunny Shanahan disaster:

And suddenly, I realized it wasn't just the judges.

Happily, the vast majority of New Yorker articles & fiction still rock -- it's hard to beat anything Malcolm Gladwell writes, and the addition of David Sedaris to the usual cast of contributing characters is a masterstroke. And there are still some great gems among the cartoonists, and their fodder. Won't be cancelling that subscription just yet. Wouldn't be prudent.

But overall, that cartoon sensibility seems to be shifting.

And it's just not funny.

You can buy any contest cartoon with your own caption on it, but why give them the satisfaction? From now on, I'm keeping my captions to myself. And you, of course. Think this week's cartoon would do better with a Captain Hook reference, or something about that old campfire chestnut? Weigh in (or add your own caption) in the comments...

[UPDATE 10:09 pm: Irony of ironies, less than an hour after posting the above I recieved the following email:

As a continuing and semi-regular contributor of cartoons to The New Yorker, I'd like to thank you personally for your heroically humorous efforts in the caption contest. If you've won, congratulations! If not, you're still in very inspiring company. To wit—

There have been over 300,000 entries to this point. We've had a variety of entrants, from noted film critic Roger Ebert to local celebrity Edward Surek of Sheboygan, Wisconsin (my father-in-law). Neither has won yet, but keep up the good work.

Trust me, it's not easy being funny (or getting published). You might be interested to know that I average about 40 submissions for every one published. Plus, I've yet to have a cartoon grace the caption contest. But I'm not giving up and neither should you! Perhaps one day my cartoon and your caption will become one. I'm misting up just thinking about it. So take pleasure in your glorious caption quest and know that the cartoon gurus at the home office appreciate your efforts, as do the cartoonists. (After all, without you, there is no caption contest.)

So, good luck and keep those courageous captions coming!

Best wishes,

Michael Shaw
Cartoon Contributor, The New Yorker

'nuff said, eh?

posted by boyhowdy | 8:47 PM |

I'm a little bit behind on my New Yorker reading, and thus the caption contests; I keep a few in the car to read in bits and pieces while waiting for various kid events to end. But I just had to tell you that this made me laugh. I mean really laugh, out loud. Made my day:

"I mean, who wants to be disappointed with the last page of their favorite high-slash-nobrow publication week after week? It wears on you."
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