One of my captions, entered in the name of a friend, was chosen as a finalist, except that it was credited
to yet another person who I presume submitted it earlier. Sometimes I thought my caption was better than the winner, sometimes I had
to admit I was bested.* Because rules allow only one entry, most of these were not
Past contests are no longer online, although some can be found here and there.
If you know of a source to link to, please let me know. PROMISE: No lines shown here were written after the respective deadline.
* Case in point: An early contest showed a high-level executive running past his assistant, carrying a surfboard. I don't
remember if I entered, but I do remember the winner and the runner up. The winner had him saying something like "Gnarly surf's up." Okay, that's out of
character for a CEO, so it's funny, but the runner-up was: "Gotta go. Water main break on Third Avenue." Now that's funny, because it's
not only out of character, it plausibly exaggerates a very real (if rare) scene in New York City. And, after all, this is The New Yorker. The top winnner
is chosen by vote among all readers, many of whom are not in New York. It reminds me that tastes and viewpoints vary, an important consideration for
a marketing copywriter. (I later learned that the contest screener had been recently imported from Texas.)
It's been a joy to read the entries all the weeks since, but I was spending far too much time, and plenty of others were carrying the ball so adroitly,
so eventually I dropped out.
Visual: Man and woman in bed, one sitting up. Outside the window is the earth in space, as we usually see the Moon.
"You'll never get to sleep if you let things like that bother you."
"I told Billy he can do the science project."
"Don't worry. Once we land on Earth, we'll blend right in."
"Stop blaming everything on Bush."
"Yes dear, the earth moved."
"What on earth was what?"
"I'll fix it in the morning."
"At least we know tomorrow's weather."
"That reminds me, I sold the house."
"I decided I need my space."
"Did you pay the oxygen bill?"
"Did you give my mother our new address?"
"Personally, I think you've been watching too much PBS."
Visual: Woman on phone. In the goldfish bowl in front of her is a small man and some fish.
"Marge wants to know if you can sit with her salamander on Thursday?"
"Mr. Spielberg? I have a small-movie remake idea."
"Dear, do you prefer Speedo or baggies?"
"Can you tell me what's your smallest size in a Speedo?"
"Oh, don't mind them. At most, they just nip a little."
"Aquarium Supply? Do you have any little women?"
"Aquarium Help Line? What do guppies eat?"
"I just don't know how George gets himself into these things."
"Mr. Johnson can't come to the phone right now.
He's preparing to swim with the sharks."
Visual: Two men at a bar. One has a very long cougar-like tail.
"So far, women aren't as impressed as I'd hoped."
"It came free with my third tatoo."
"I'm in cloning research. Why?"
"Never promise your kid you'll wear her birthday gift to work. "
"I started as a code monkey, why?"
"What's your favorite Marx Brothers film?"
"Can I buy you a banana daiquiri?"
"I find it helps my balance."
"I hear they're still looking for that cougar."
"So the bartender asked, "Why the long tail?'"
"Luckily, I've still got the opposable thumb."
"Then I realized that health insurance
for a cat costs less than my own."
"All I remember is saying, "Let's get some tail."
"Just don't take Viagra."
Visual: Man at wall, facing firing squad. The squad is an odd assortment of unlikely civilians.
"Anyway, how's this universal conscription thing working out?"
Visual: Man on building ledge, contemplating his fate. Bird is talking to him.
"Can I have your apartment?" *
"In your case, I'd say set your mixture rich and give it full throttle, but I'm probably overlooking something."
"Just follow me."
"Today we're going to talk about wind shear..."
* NOTE: This first caption was among the three finalists, but submitted by someone else, I presume earlier than mine. But the winner
was perfect; I love it: "Then tomorrow, I'll teach you how to build a nest." Silly bird.
Visual: Norsemen leading horde down the road. A man in modern suit, carring a briefcase, is runnnig up and hailing them.
"As I told you, Thorgrim, they just send another auditor."
"Hey, Brondolf! He wants to know what's in your wallet. What's a wallet?"
Visual: A presenter is showing small audience a map of the United States. Half of the country looks like a microscope view of a blood vessel.
"Is this your first real look at the Heartland, sir?"
"...and the heartland, still holding its breath, turns blue."
"I'm afraid, sir, that the Heartland is becoming somewhat anemic."
"In the same way the Interior is now called Homeland,
we propose that the Heartland be called the Vesselland"
"But the really red-blooded Americans are still with you, sir."
"No, sir, this has nothing to do with evolution."
Visual: Office workers in hallway. One is wearing a bunny suit.
"Tom's efficiency has been top-notch since the company started allowing afternoon naps."
Visual: Two men talking. One looks pregnant.
"She got the house. I got the kids."
Visual: Man at desk, on phone. He's sitting in an electric chair, with headcap.
"That's a great idea, J.B."
"This is the Warden. I want you to know that I feel your pain."
Visual: Young girl playing violin for her instructor. The room is a shambles, books fallen
from bookcases, picture frame and curtain rod
askew, papers strewn about, potted plant tipped over, desk lamp broken on floor, even the music stand is bent.
"I want you to practice an hour a day at home. Is it still habitable?"
Visual: Bartender on phone. At the bar are a priest, a rabbi and a minister.
"I'll take that job offer, Harry. This place is a joke."
Visual: Attorney speaking to judge. In the witness box is a man with a hook for a hand.
"Your Honor, the signature on the warranty card looks suspiciously different than the one here on his claim."
Visual: Surgeons in an operating room. On the table is a huge bomb or missle, and they have its hatch open.
"Tell Community Relations this whole thing could blow up in our face."
Visual: In an office, a man is looking through a telescope, aimed at a solid wall, just inches from it. A man in the doorway is speaking.
"We have no problems here, Jensen, only issues."
Visual: (Sorry, I don't remember this one, and can't find it online.)
"... and adapts readily to human presence."
Visual: Two middle-aged men observing a third officeworker in hallway. The third is a metallic robot.
"That's Ernie. It all started with a hip replacement."
"Best thing? No prostate."
Visual: Man looking out the window of home. All over the neighborhook, large safes are plummeting to the ground.
Effects of the robust economic stimulus package were soon apparent.
"Oh, my! The radio said we'd have scattered wallets."
"This airline security is getting out of hand."
Visual: Small kitchen. Woman in bathrobe is standing, talking to roughly bearded man seated at table, looking like a disgruntled Hun, complete with huge sabre.
"We're out of blood. How 'bout some guts?"
"Whatever. Just don't bring the cutlery to bed."
"Cousin Attila called yesterday. He needs his mailman opener back."
"O, yes, yes, my prince, having wooed and won me in your restless days, you conquer me yet anew each morning. Now eat your toast."
"So, what did the teacher say about Billy's fighting?"
"Is today your appointment with the auditor?"
Although adjusting to urban living, Attila remained confused by niceties such as which fork or knife to use at the table.
"So, Dear, another busy day full of downsizing?"
"Get over it, Hon. I know your mother always had one waiting for you, but yesterday the shop was out of croissants."
Every sunrise found Cousin Attila waiting patiently for the return of the Huns.
"I know, I know -- No blade has ever touched your skin and no blade ever will. Yada, yada, yada."
"Of course your barber says he can't fit you in. You scare the hell out of him when you say it's time for a trim."
His fear of the razor was the one thing he could never conquer.
Attila longed for years past, when his entire reflection could be seen in the sword.
"Oh, and that Norse guy in Cartoon Contest #28 was looking for you."
Visual: Man at desk, talking to intercom. Perched on the desk is a very large vulture.
"On second thought, I'll have the health salad."
Visual: Three angels conversing amid clouds. The one speaking looks angellic enough, except he has bat's wings.
"Actually, I'm just passing through."
"I was hoping for the jet pack."
"I have dreams that I'm falling."
"Got any insects?"
"I was a lawyer, how'd you guess?"
"This sunlight is killing me."
"We're still working on the radar."
"Next thing I know, there's this stake through my heart."
"We got any heavy metal concerts here?"
"Bruce Wayne. What's yours?"
Visual: Man has brought an inflatable female to work.
I take naps. This is my air mattress.
In preparation for the Playboy company retreat, Jim brought his air mattress to work.
Jim's ruse in the HOV lane really speeded his commute, but he suspected he was asking for trouble.
Knowing full well that he was just a "yes man," Jim decided to get himself a "yes woman."
"No, we're not gay if it's a threesome."
Visual: Man on a psychiatrists's couch, dressed like the Gloucester fisherman. The room is full of fish floating in air.
"So, what should we talk about?"
"It's just lucky I'm not a big game hunter."
"Ask me anything you want about fish..."
(Credit: The next one is someone else's a finalist from contest #142). I included it to demonstrate how
sometimes captions can be switched from other cartoons and they make sense. (Also see my #132 reference to Contest #28 above.) It's reminiscent of the time
we watched a silent movie to music, dropping the record needle at random. Wherever we dropped it, the music almost always worked.
Different parts were funny, depending on how things synched up. Similarly, some captions are almost universal.
That other cartoon showed a taxicab coming up the wide indoor stairway. At the top of the stairs, it gets the
attention of men in a posh men's club lounge.
"When you don't want one, they're everywhere."
Visual: Man on phone in an high-floor apartment, on phone, looking out the window. Clinging to the bricks next to the window and out
of his view, is a huge monster.
"Sorry, for a second I thought I heard an inhuman groan suggestive of the most ghastly horror imaginable."
"If you're that concerned about your ex making a scene, come spend the evening with me."
"She broke up with him because he refused to stop using steroids."
"I've decided this city has nothing new to offer me."
"She's moved. May I take a message?"
"Anyway, I doubt he'll be accepted by the co-op board."