October 23, 2006

How to play (and win!) the New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest is an interactive —no wait, Web 2.0 — parody of The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest. Every Monday, when the New Yorker publishes a new uncaptioned cartoon, I post that same cartoon on this site. But while the New Yorker is looking for (and rarely finding) good captions, I'm looking for the worst captions possible. So much easier. Submit no more than five anti-captions in the comments section. The following Monday, you'll get to vote for one of three finalists (while also submitting anti-captions for the new cartoon). The week after that, I'll announce the winner. That turned out to be a spectacularly unpopular idea. Instead, I'll choose one winner and two finalists who will be "rewarded" with a prominent spot directly under the cartoon and web links if any were provided. Below those I'll post any number of anti-captions deserving honorable mention.

What is an anti-caption, exactly? In large part, it's like Potter Stewart's definition of pornography: containing explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity. But there a few elements that make the difference between a merely bad caption and a true anti-caption. A great anti-caption does one or more of the following things:

so completely misses the point that it changes your entire perception of the cartoon.

is not just not funny but agressively unfunny.

fits the picture, but does not actually work as a punchline.

pays attention to details that the artist probably hoped you would overlook.

reads like a caption that would actually appear in The New Yorker only without the being-funny part.

reads like a caption that would never, ever appear in The New Yorker (see second finalist).

Meanwhile, there are a few popular tropes that I always appreciate, but which rarely make the final cut:

direct parodies of/references to actual New Yorker cartoon captions (or actual caption contest winners).

captions which fail to consider the central image/action of the cartoon.

For more, here's a complete index of The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


This is the big upgrade? I expected to see italicized entries scrolling across the cartoon. Or at least for the "Remember personal info?" box to work.

So.... who won (or, if the new format is retroactive, what finalists shall we be voting for) in contests 68 and 69?

You did. Congratulations!

Wow, I wonder if that always works.

So... who will you be sending an envelope stuffed with cash to?

Yes, Brian Wilson is working on a new album...yes, his room in the old house was much larger...yes, he ordered the same amount of sand....

Sorry-wrong entry.

Get a memo out, Lou. "Every employee who transfers here to the Congo office, must read and sign the orientation package"

Look, I was cool with the strap-on fetish, and the jailbird fetish and the elevated at an awkward angle fetish, and I like to think I'm game for anything, but i draw the line at smoking. it's just disgusting.

After a long night of drinking, Danny Devito wakes up and wonders how he wound up in jail with Taylor Hanson.

Whaddya mean, no room service?

Now Timmy, wasn't President Bush nice? He actually DID get your Dad home for Christmas from Iraq!

hey, daniel, if it's supposed to be the Unfunniest, why do you elect the funniest? The "...nameplates, this is gary." is for the NYer.

Can you hear me now?

Thank God, we found it!

Dude, I think Santa Clause caught us.

If you stop...DON'T bend over!

...so I says to the guy, '"there's no fucking way I'm paying full retail. I'll give you cost plus 10% for the lot of it."' He was a moron. Right hon? Hon?

"Could you have used a chain saw if it wasn't Saturday?"

No, this is a gaping hole!

Do you have any Grey Poupon? The squirrels ate all mine.

Hey! Why isn't any of Michael Shaw's cartoons ever in the contest?

what's a dog gotta do to get a little fox around here?

what's a dog gotta do to get a little fox around here?

The MIT Drama Guild's production of David Ives' "All in the Timing: Six One-Act Comedies" features "Words, Words, Words," performed by real monkeys.

I said my lip gloss is cool,
my lip gloss be poppin...
I'm standing at my locker,
and all the boys keep stoppin.

I said my lip gloss is cool,
my lip gloss be poppin
I'm standing at my locker,
and all the boys keep stoppin

"MARY KAY here - with your Lip Plumping Conditioner"

"Hmm, 'Desert island Vaj Eye-Nas?' I get it but reads more like some kind of global warming thing."

This is my opus. I call it "Red Flea Comb for Cats."

"Quick Gladice, he's aroused, show him your udder!"

"Don't look now, but Mr. Looking Less Gay Each Day, is back..."

"You've crawled into the annual Mohave Existential Competition. You're disqualified if you're just looking for water."

"Turn the damn heat down,will ya?"

A magical snowman teaches lesbians the importance of saving energy.

you might really like the cartoons at http://cartoondujour.com

Honey...is that a banana I feel in your pants...or... are you...a man?

George, are you there? Your psychologist is on line one.

Sorry for the static - this phone is for the birds!

Are you kidding me? The only caption that the cartoon could have been was, "We're here to see a Mr. Wile Coyote".

25 years and this is how they show their appreciation. Well... at least i get a cigar with my Monica doll.

Most people like to go camping in tents, geez, cmon Cheney! up and atem! Do you want breakfast or not? This is pointless, hes still wasted from last night

I love you.

"I've seen more meat on a butcher's pencil. Oops, hey, no, whoa...I've seen more meat on a butcher's pencil: Your Honor. Hahaha, I almost got lethal injection there for a minute!

Does anyone have a camera?

Veneer core, gentlemen!

His stock broker told him to diversify!

"What bottle of Valtrex?"

Aaaaand scene!

[The last entry ("Valtrex") under my J.D. moniker is not mine. I wish whoever has been doing this would stop. Security?]

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