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April 26, 2011 8:17 AM   Subscribe

After 107 submissions, Roger Ebert wins The New Yorker cartoon caption contest. Ebert's earlier blog about captioning.

If you would like to enter the contest yourself, McSweeney's has posited some future winners for you.
posted by codacorolla (103 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Christ, what an awesome guy.
posted by Reverend John at 8:18 AM on April 26, 2011 [17 favorites]


This post wins the First Funny McSweeney's Link Invitational and also the The Ultra-Narrow Format Actually Works Here Award.

Also, I didn't understand the one that won could someone OMG A SELF-REFERENCE I GET IT THE CAPTION DOESN'T MAKE SENSE JUST LIKE USUAL.

(I liked the penis joke, though.)
posted by DU at 8:22 AM on April 26, 2011


I'm so glad he offered his services 107 times with no payment. That's super.
posted by The Whelk at 8:28 AM on April 26, 2011


lol dangling preposition
posted by ryanrs at 8:29 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


They should have printed it anyway.
posted by zarq at 8:30 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't understand how this one didn't win. It kills.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:34 AM on April 26, 2011 [31 favorites]


Seriously? Maybe we could take a rest with the Ebert posts.

At this point you might as well go ahead and turn your cell phones back on.

(I love that one too, potomac)
posted by fleetmouse at 8:35 AM on April 26, 2011


Why is the competition only open to U.S and Canadian (sans Quebec) citizens? Considering the international readership, it seems both odd and old fashioned. I for one, think they should reëxamine this outdated practice.
posted by flippant at 8:36 AM on April 26, 2011 [20 favorites]


I laughed.
posted by orme at 8:36 AM on April 26, 2011


The upright position one is the first New Yorker cartoon I actually laughed out loud at. Well done Ebert.
posted by yeti at 8:36 AM on April 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


Is there nothing this Ebert guy can't do?
posted by crunchland at 8:37 AM on April 26, 2011


Aw, c'mon, my captions would totally be better.

"I LOVE SHOPPING IN F DESERT"
"OUR CELLIST IS A MONSTER TURCK"
"THATS NOT A MAN IT IS JUST CLOTHES"
"ADULT BABY HUSBAND, ADULT BABY HUBSAND"
"THIS WINE IS GOOD"
posted by Greg Nog at 8:38 AM on April 26, 2011 [69 favorites]


I think it's telling that out of all of the cartoons that they showed Ebert has submitted that didn't make it, the one that they actually pick is the least funny. New Yorker cartoons are like an anti-humor seeking missile.
posted by codacorolla at 8:41 AM on April 26, 2011 [29 favorites]


I think it was more a lifetime achievement award than recognition for that particular caption, really.
posted by Mister_A at 8:43 AM on April 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


In the history of these cartoons, I've only ever found the "You wait here, I'll bring the etchings down." one to be funny.

That said, the literal New Yorker blog is amusing.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:43 AM on April 26, 2011 [16 favorites]


the one that they actually pick is the least funny.

I think it's in the middle of the humor range for the entries they published, but the one that won definitely has the most "New-Yorker-cartoony" feel of the bunch (with the cell phone monster truck one a very close second in sheer New-Yorker-ness).
posted by aught at 8:55 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I was the person who submitted 'Just admit it. This is the wrong desert' I'd be kind of ticked off, as that caption is actually *funny*, but unfortunately didn't have the name of a beloved film critic attached to it.
Some of Ebert's earlier efforts were much worthier, and less literal - cell phone/orchestra, e.g. I wonder why the contest editor(s) finally chose this time to annoint him?
posted by Flashman at 8:59 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Tell me what you see, k?"
posted by hal9k at 8:59 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's something sort of satisfying that Ebert is so proud of this accomplishment. He's had a remarkably successful career, is happily married, has written fluently on a number of subjects, but can still whine that he's never won the caption contest and be pleased when he finally does. It will probably be in his obituary.

(That said, I didn't find his winning caption that LOLworthy. The monster truck and naked guy in the airplane were, however, comedy gold. Probably why they weren't picked).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:03 AM on April 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


I wonder why the contest editor(s) finally chose this time to annoint him?

You do? Honestly? Or was that biting sarcasm?
posted by ReeMonster at 9:09 AM on April 26, 2011


My favorite "Christ, what an asshole" cartoon.
posted by brundlefly at 9:14 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's telling that out of all of the cartoons that they showed Ebert has submitted that didn't make it, the one that they actually pick is the least funny. New Yorker cartoons are like an anti-humor seeking missile.

This is why the New Yorker Anti-Caption contest is often preferable.
posted by anazgnos at 9:17 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Seems like lately the terrorists are just phoning it in.

Hatchie-Matchie!
posted by codacorolla at 9:19 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I was the person who submitted 'Just admit it. This is the wrong desert' I'd be kind of ticked off, as that caption is actually *funny*, but unfortunately didn't have the name of a beloved film critic attached to it.

I don't know about that. I once lost a short-story contest to Tim Gautreaux, which is almost as good as winning it.
posted by headnsouth at 9:20 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh. I like Ebert's blog, but none of his captions strike me as particularly funny. In fact, some of them are really horrendously un-funny.

I did like this one:

"In my new film 'Bodacious Babes of Cage Fighting,' I play the Masked Avenger, or Avengeress--whatever--fighting Demonic She-Devil. We pound each other with step ladders. I start bleeding from a scalp wound, and barely make it to the cage wall to tag my partner, Dominatrix, who leaps in and starts slashing She-Devil with a whip. The Devil tags Lesbos, who leaps in and takes after Dominatrix with one step ladder in each hand. I recover, and hold Lesbos down while Dominatrix balances on a ladder with two legs on her prone body, to grab She-Devil, who is trying to escape through the ceiling of the cage. Lesbos desperately twists and topples the ladder, Dominatrix drags She-Devil down, we all land in a pile, and then Bob's your uncle."

But I thought it unfortunate that he left "the Aristocrats!" off the end.
posted by The World Famous at 9:22 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


My rejected caption: "They had to change the 'E' to an 'F' because it made it too obvious who was gonna win this week."
posted by digsrus at 9:31 AM on April 26, 2011


"What a mis-understanding!"
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:36 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I didn't understand the one that won could someone OMG A SELF-REFERENCE I GET IT

I still really don't get it. Anyone care to help me out?
posted by Slyfen at 9:37 AM on April 26, 2011


I still really don't get it. Anyone care to help me out?

What's a common cuss word that begins with the letter "f"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:51 AM on April 26, 2011


Fiddlesticks?
Fudge?
Fornicate?
Fuckmuffins?
posted by longbaugh at 9:54 AM on April 26, 2011


*goes out to buy some fuckmuffins*
posted by longbaugh at 9:54 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


What's a common cuss word that begins with the letter "f"?

Fart. The joke is that the guy farted and the woman is mad at him because he's stinking up the whole desert.

Actually, when I think of it that way, it's a lot funnier.
posted by The World Famous at 9:55 AM on April 26, 2011


That is a really stupid cartoon, whatever word I place in there.
posted by ofthestrait at 9:55 AM on April 26, 2011


Fuckmuffin McGee, hero of the old west.
posted by The Whelk at 9:57 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"You got 5 minutes to hand over the woman Miguel or I'm going to bake you up one sore asshole."

"Her name's Miguel?"
posted by longbaugh at 10:00 AM on April 26, 2011


What's a common cuss word that begins with the letter "f"?

"Fuchsia."
posted by thudthwacker at 10:01 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I won once too.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:03 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think it's in the middle of the humor range for the entries they published, but the one that won definitely has the most "New-Yorker-cartoony" feel of the bunch (with the cell phone monster truck one a very close second in sheer New-Yorker-ness).

I'm compelled to agree, as someone whose parents met because they both read The New Yorker (in the University of Chicago library, no less), and has had lifelong exposure to the cartoons in the context of the magazine.

They aren't going for LOL, they're going for droll, and indeed a certain sweet spot of droll that tweaks the attitude of their readership a certain way. As I've said before, my absolute favorite NYer cartoon of all time is one that I, having lived there even just briefly, instantly got that had to be explained to non-NY residents. It's not so much that it's inherently funny, but the gap of perception makes it funny (in, admittedly, a kind of self-congratulatory way, but with a little anti-yuppie sheen to give you back your street cred). You can diss this as unfunny if you want, but I don't think it stems from anti-humor or is deliberately unfunny -- it isn't aimed at a general audience.

Anyway, the monster truck in the concert one -- with or without Ebert's caption -- comes across as a little 90s to me. I could see the empty suit one in the magazine. And the naked flyer one would definitely appeal to a certain cross-country flier sick and tired of the 'types' one meets when flying regularly, but is right at the, er, elastic waistband of what the magazine allows as risqué. It could obviously run in something like Playboy, though. (I don't have any brief for the diaper gag.) No, the deserted parking lot one -- particularly with its Steinbergian quality of critiquing the suburban shopping experience -- is the one that's perfect for the magazine.
posted by dhartung at 10:12 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


So you're saying the best possible caption is... "Haha, New York, am I right?"
posted by codacorolla at 10:24 AM on April 26, 2011


So you're saying the best possible caption is... "Haha, New York, am I right?"

Close. The best possible caption is: "It's called New York. Nevermind. You've probably never heard of it."
posted by The World Famous at 10:26 AM on April 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


biting sarcasm

too soon!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:35 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Latest Cartoon Caption A Desert of Laughs

News and Reviews
"The New Yorker Caption Contest", written by Roger Ebert

Those of you familiar with the ever-present Caption Contest in the back pages of the New Yorker Magazine are no doubt unsurprised to see yet another bland, facile remake of a gag that we've seen dozens of times before, and I'm sad to say, executed better on most of those previous occasions.

A format generally left to "average Joes" (as average as your typical New Yorker reader, at any rate) the latest installment was written by film critic and smoothie enthusiast Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times. While the artwork lives up to its usual relatively high standard, clearly and simultaneously depicting a scene that is both familiar and yet totally unfamiliar to the viewer, the writing is tepid at best and leaves the viewer with no heroes to cheer for, and no villains to malign. The run-time is mercifully short (0 hours, 0 minutes, 3 seconds) but leaves the characters no room to grow, and gives the audience no time or reason to care about them or their situation.

Perhaps the editorial staff at the New Yorker had hoped that attaching a well-liked celebrity's name to this week's installment might reinvigorate the entire franchise. In certain circumstances, the idea has been wildly successful (I am reminded, of course, of Kevin Smith's treatments of the Green Arrow franchise, as well as Tom Wolfe's shocking take on The Family Circus- the gritty realism of which successfully rebooted the Keane family's dark origins). But in this case, from start to finish, the interaction of art and commerce has left little room for any true artistic expression, and has the sullying feel of something slapped together quickly and cheaply just to make a buck.

Don't misunderstand me: I am a fan of the New Yorker Caption Contest, especially the early installments of the franchise. And perhaps it is for that reason that I am so disappointed in this chapter. The earliest Cartoon Captions weren't afraid to take risks, and while they weren't always successful you could still respect the franchise for doing something that was different and for pushing the envelope-- even if it was a direction you didn't agree with. In the early installments, if you didn't laugh you would still think. Unfortunately for Mr. Ebert, his caption does neither.

In what could have been an exciting return to form for the New Yorker Caption Contest franchise, we are instead left with something "safe" that excites no one, adds nothing to the collective conversation or to the works that came before it, and is forgotten in less time than it takes to experience it. It is writing that alludes to something dirty yet doesn't have the conviction to actually present it to the viewer. It is Showgirls on the USA Network; it is Scarface on WGN.

As long as people keep reading the Cartoon Caption Contest, this franchise is likely to keep limping along as it has for years, making just enough money to justify its existence. I can only hope that if the editors of the New Yorker decide to continue this franchise in the future, that they don't just choose whoever is the hot, new writer of the moment. After all, as this week's caption shows, all that glitters is not comedy gold. ♦

Mr. Ebert's next project will be a review of a movie based on a popular video game.


-------------------------------------------
posted by indiebass at 10:58 AM on April 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


I prefer to live in a world where the wholly awesome, nearly beatified, ultrasuccessful and justifiably entitled Roger Ebert never does win the caption contest. There's something charming about him striving for this, and something pure about the NYer refusing to recognize him. Or, was.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:00 AM on April 26, 2011


There is nothing pure about the New Yorker. Nothing.
posted by koeselitz at 11:02 AM on April 26, 2011


I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:05 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


"It’s that just once I want to see one of my damn captions in the magazine that publishes the best cartoons in the world. Is that too much to ask?"

The best cartoons in the world? No. Not by a long shot. Distinctive, yes, but not the best. And it isn't the drawings, it's the punchline.

The New Yorker cartoons are supposed to generate a chortle or a guffaw. Followed by an adjustment of the cravat and perhaps another sip of brandy. The BEST cartoons in the world actually generate a laugh. It's well known that New Yorker punchlines can always be bested by "Christ, what an asshole". Something genuinely funny wouldn't be improved by this substitution.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:19 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I understand that "fuck" is a word and that it starts with 'f'. I don't get how that's relevant.
posted by DU at 11:38 AM on April 26, 2011


I understand that "fuck" is a word and that it starts with 'f'. I don't get how that's relevant.

they're all the way in the desert and haven't found their car yet. That's a situation that would prompt someone to say "fuck" in frustration. The woman saying "I'm not going to say that word" is more of a dodge for the reader to get that that's what she's thinking, so the NEW YORKER doesn't have to actually print it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:42 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


So it's not a funny cartoon per se but a funny situation for a cartoon publisher to be in. Sort of a meta-joke.
posted by DU at 11:43 AM on April 26, 2011


The thing is that it would actually be much, much funnier (in my opinion) if the caption just said "Fuck."
posted by koeselitz at 11:57 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really not a fan of the "HA HA CHILDREN OF LESBIANS GROW UP TO BE SISSY BOYS" joke, Ebert.
posted by darksasami at 12:05 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


darksasami: “Really not a fan of the "HA HA CHILDREN OF LESBIANS GROW UP TO BE SISSY BOYS" joke, Ebert.”

What are you talking about? Did I miss something?
posted by koeselitz at 12:27 PM on April 26, 2011


Man, that airplane tray table one was pretty funny.
posted by chinston at 12:42 PM on April 26, 2011


“Really not a fan of the "HA HA CHILDREN OF LESBIANS GROW UP TO BE SISSY BOYS" joke, Ebert.”

Are you referring to this one? And are you joking?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:53 PM on April 26, 2011


I think koeselitz is referring to Cartoon #3 on this page and Ebert's caption ""My moms were the happiest couple I've ever met."

And I agree with koeselitz.
posted by The World Famous at 1:02 PM on April 26, 2011


I figured they were playing some variation on "I spy".
posted by Karmakaze at 1:07 PM on April 26, 2011


Sounds like something Ziggy would say. Wait a second...
posted by chugg at 1:11 PM on April 26, 2011


If you would like to enter the contest yourself

"Quitcher bitchin'."

GOLD!
posted by mrgrimm at 1:16 PM on April 26, 2011


If you would like to enter the contest yourself

"Quitcher bitchin'."


Remember when I promised I'd kill you last? I lied.
posted by The World Famous at 1:23 PM on April 26, 2011


"You might as well come out now. I'm going to find you eventually...."
posted by epersonae at 1:45 PM on April 26, 2011


"You cannot hide. I saw you."
posted by The World Famous at 1:58 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Don't worry, we're only cutting back on the Union trees."
"Say what you will, but it's sunnier on my side."
"Keep looking at me like that and you'll be Twilight books, I swear!"

And...

"It seems hideously unsafe for me to be doing this all alone. Where the hell are my co-workers?"
posted by Navelgazer at 2:13 PM on April 26, 2011


"If you're appreciating my sequined jumpsuit and boots, no, I cannot tell you where I got them."
posted by Navelgazer at 2:15 PM on April 26, 2011


"Yes, I'm afraid there is a possibility the New Yorker could be printed on you."
posted by DU at 2:18 PM on April 26, 2011


"Let me ask you again: DO I LOOK FAT IN THIS?!"
posted by brundlefly at 2:22 PM on April 26, 2011


"Sigh."
posted by koeselitz at 2:24 PM on April 26, 2011


"I know it's tempting to lie about your age, but trust me: the truth always comes out."
posted by brundlefly at 2:25 PM on April 26, 2011


"Note how I kick my right hip out to the side as I lean my upper body left; that stretches my Ilio-Tibial Band. By doing so on a regular basis, I am able to avoid ITB syndrome, a common running injury. In addition, I have cut down many trees."
posted by Greg Nog at 2:26 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Quit complaining. You said you wanted to be the tallest and this is the only way that's going to happen."
posted by The World Famous at 2:30 PM on April 26, 2011


"What do you mean, does it make a sound?"
posted by dhartung at 2:49 PM on April 26, 2011


"Why, yes, it is the new Makita DC3400."
posted by Sparx at 2:56 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gar. I just don't understand this tired old canard that New Yorker cartoons are 'not funny'. Not every single one, sure, but in aggregate, for the amount of mirth and delight delivered they have no equal in the English-speaking world. Especially since Punch went bust.
Come to think of it, rather than being from New York (I mean, aren't Adam Sandler and Kevin Smith from New York?), perhaps you have to be British to enjoy this kind of humour.
posted by Flashman at 2:57 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not every single one, sure, but in aggregate, for the amount of mirth and delight delivered they have no equal in the English-speaking world.

What do you mean? No equal in that there is no other magazine that prints its own series of cartoons that are funny with the same frequency as those of the New Yorker? Or are you saying that, in the English-speaking world, there is no running cartoon series that offers as much mirth and delight as the New Yorker's cartoons? If it's the latter, can you tell me some of the other cartoons you're familiar with that you think, perhaps, come close to those of the New Yorker? I'm just curious.

Just to give two examples off the top of my head, I think that XKCD is far funnier than the New Yorker cartoons and also far more consistent. And I think Married To The Sea is funny with approximately the same frequency as the New Yorker, but that when it hits it is far funnier.
posted by The World Famous at 3:06 PM on April 26, 2011


I mean, aren't Adam Sandler and Kevin Smith from New York

Kevin Smith is from Red Bank, New Jersey. Adam Sandler hails from Manchester, New Hampshire.

for the amount of mirth and delight delivered they have no equal in the English-speaking world.

are you thinking of handjobs, maybe?
posted by Greg Nog at 3:14 PM on April 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


If I had a nickel for every time somebody confused handjobs and New Yorker cartoons...


DAMN IT - being funny in pithy bursts is hard.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:20 PM on April 26, 2011


That's what she said.
posted by The World Famous at 3:26 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've always enjoyed New Yorker cartoons, and never understood the hate.

*sips brandy*
posted by brundlefly at 3:48 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that XKCD is far funnier than the New Yorker cartoons --- Clearly, a generational divide.
posted by crunchland at 4:02 PM on April 26, 2011


David Halberstam tried and tried to win the NYMagazine competition. Never did.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:05 PM on April 26, 2011


It's possible that those who don't get the cartoon itself have never had to park in a parking lot so large that they have giant signs with letters on them to help you remember where the fucking hell your car is.

My only quibble is that "F" wouldn't be in the desert. "Q," maybe.

(Unless the parking lot is for IKEA. Jesus Christ those parking lots are huge.)
posted by tzikeh at 4:19 PM on April 26, 2011


New yorker cartoons and handjobs are alike in that I have been invovled in them more then once.
posted by The Whelk at 4:19 PM on April 26, 2011


New Yorker cartoons are like handjobs in the way that you know the person means well, but you just can't seem to enjoy it.
posted by codacorolla at 4:42 PM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


New Yorker cartoons are like handjobs in that a good one leaves me sweating and gasping for air.

Hmmm, wait, I guess that's only New Yorker cartoons that do that. Nevermind.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 5:09 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


your favorite sex act is boring and a waste of time
posted by LogicalDash at 5:36 PM on April 26, 2011


I like every thing about Ebert except his movie reviews and sense of humor.
posted by gjc at 6:05 PM on April 26, 2011


it's a lot of things but hardly a waste of time.

Lube maybe.
posted by The Whelk at 6:08 PM on April 26, 2011


Also, the correct answer for that caption is:

"I *told* you they were in alphabetical order!"
posted by gjc at 6:20 PM on April 26, 2011


Each week, we provide a cartoon in need of a caption. You, the reader, submit a caption, we choose three finalists, and you vote for your favorite. --- Ebert has enough internet fans to make stuffing the ballot box a trivial matter.
posted by crunchland at 7:06 PM on April 26, 2011


New Yorker cartoon : New Yorker :: xkcd : geek

Really, they both use the same psychosocial inclusion/exclusion symbology, just for different audiences. Also, one of them is by a gajillion cartoonists, the other is just one person, who doesn't have an editor. I don't see how these are directly comparable outputs.
posted by dhartung at 11:16 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Did you say something?"
posted by archagon at 1:07 AM on April 27, 2011


Great!

What the hell happened with Ebert? For decades I thought if him as the smart one on a stupid show of movie reviews. I mean, movie reviews, who the hell cares? Now in the last few years he is all of a sudden writing sharp cultural commentary and becoming a public intellectual. When I see his name on a link here I am delighted and know that something wonderful is at hand.
posted by LarryC at 1:30 AM on April 27, 2011


New Yorker cartoon : New Yorker :: xkcd : geek

I'd agree that's accurate for a tiny subset of NYer cartoons and a pretty large subset of xkcd cartoons (most, I'd guess), and with the link being, "X is not funny—not even comprehensible—without domain knowledge specific to a Y".
posted by fleacircus at 5:23 AM on April 27, 2011


As someone once said of Emma Thompson's short lived 'comedy' series on the BBC, maybe New Yorker cartoons aren't supposed to be funny.
posted by joannemullen at 6:02 AM on April 27, 2011


What the hell happened with Ebert? For decades I thought if him as the smart one on a stupid show of movie reviews. I mean, movie reviews, who the hell cares? Now in the last few years he is all of a sudden writing sharp cultural commentary and becoming a public intellectual. When I see his name on a link here I am delighted and know that something wonderful is at hand.

Movie reviews are, literally commentary on culture, which require (if you're doing them right) being widely read in a number of fields related to art, sociology, psychology, and science. Plus, he's a professional writer, which means that he's going to be good at expressing himself. Watching a lot of movies also lets you see a lot of perspectives, and get a good idea for what the zeitgeist is through its popular media.

I think the format of Siskel and Ebert might have thrown you off, and since Ebert has had the Internet as a platform he's been able to move outside of 1,000 word columns and 30 minute TV spots.
posted by codacorolla at 6:58 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's possible that those who don't get the cartoon itself have never had to park in a parking lot so large that they have giant signs with letters on them to help you remember where the fucking hell your car is.

Ah, now I get it. Sort of. I got the f is for fuck part, "oh dear, we're lost in a desert, therefore 'fuck'", but I didn't really get why there was a pole with an f on. I was thinking of this, which I suppose actually works fairly interchangeably as it happens. I still don't see how this is funny. Unless there is some widespread cultural game of naming words after those giant car park signs, I don't get it: it boils down to 'frustrated people want to swear', which... simply isn't a joke. There's no twist or bathos or surreality or anything to make it a joke.

Never mind me, I'll be over there writing up a mefi post about dissecting frogs.
posted by Slyfen at 2:10 PM on April 27, 2011


LarryC: “What the hell happened with Ebert? For decades I thought if him as the smart one on a stupid show of movie reviews. I mean, movie reviews, who the hell cares? Now in the last few years he is all of a sudden writing sharp cultural commentary and becoming a public intellectual. When I see his name on a link here I am delighted and know that something wonderful is at hand.”

What happened was that a pretty witty and thoughtful film buff and erstwhile screenwriter managed to parlay his hopes and dreams into a, yeah, stupid show about film. That's a lot farther than most get. Also, it must be said that on that same dumb show, Roger Ebert was unfortunately weighed down by a partner who didn't know or care much about movies at all; and either he happened to be too polite to say anything about it, or he was too happy with the gig to care.

And, well, what really happened (though most of us are too polite to mention it) is that said clueless partner sadly died ten years ago of a brain tumor; and while that event itself was sad, it suddenly allowed Roger Ebert the freedom to come out from under the ponderous weight of its legacy. (It was, after all, a popular show, as dumb as it was.) Since it's generally not socially acceptable to point out that someone's death afforded a good critic the chance to blossom, people don't usually talk about this, but it seems true to me.
posted by koeselitz at 3:56 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unless there is some widespread cultural game of naming words after those giant car park signs

FWIW, at the Disney establishments all the parking lot letter signs are associated with Disney characters.
posted by epersonae at 4:56 PM on April 27, 2011


dhartung: "Also, one of them is by a gajillion cartoonists, the other is just one person, who doesn't have an editor. I don't see how these are directly comparable outputs."

I hadn't thought of it in that light. Really, with this in mind it's even MORE impressive that XKCD manages to be as funny as it is, as often as it is - the New Yorker with it's gajillion-cartoonist talent field looks pretty lame in comparison, doesn't it?
posted by caution live frogs at 7:01 AM on April 28, 2011


I don't get it: it boils down to 'frustrated people want to swear', which... simply isn't a joke. There's no twist or bathos or surreality or anything to make it a joke.

Well, there is the obvious surreality that they have walked so far out into the open wastelands of the massive shopping center parking lots that they find themselves in the middle of a desert. Possibly this is a suburban American thing, coping with multi-acre parking lots?

To go back to it being a particularly "New Yorker magazine" thing as discussed upthread, it's a specific mode of "upper middle class makes fun of its own hangups -- here, alluding to cursing without cursing, even in an absurd situation where you'd be entirely justified to blurt, "fuck!" -- in an understated, droll manner" that is a NYer cartoon hallmark. Part of how NYer cartoons work in context is the reader's complicit, "Yes, I recognize I am one of these self-conscious and affected Northeast, non-rural, educated, well-off types, and I choose to chuckle at my own foibles as part of this cohort" when reading the cartoon; this ironic in-joke frame of mind is kind of the on-switch that lets it be funny. (In some ways it's not unlike what's necessary to enjoy good Woody Allen movies.)

Mmmm. Beans for lunch!
posted by aught at 9:13 AM on April 28, 2011


Roger Ebert was unfortunately weighed down by a partner who didn't know or care much about movies at all

Golly when you want to, you can really troll with the best of them. (Yes I'm still mad about Spoon, 14 months later.)

Surely I can't be the only one who much preferred Siskel as a reviewer? Ebert's a good guy, but his reviews are fairly worthless for me. In fact, most of his output since he broke from Siskel has been the same pablum.

Siskel at least had eclectic tastes and seemed to have less prejudices. I found his reviews more interesting.

Also, no, Ebert's winning caption is not very funny, as per usual, if you read his former submissions. It's a "fuck is a bad word" joke, yes, even if you comprehend the parking-lot letter. There were better options among the runner-ups.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:54 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"much to my surprise, I liked it."

That, and the sequence they show a few seconds later, when Siskel changes his vote on Face/Off from Up to Down, encapsulates why I much preferred Siskel. He wasn't afraid to consider opposing arguments and he wasn't afraid to say that the latest Benji (or Burt Reynolds) movie was crap.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:26 AM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


"YOU were the one who wanted to know what all the buzz was about".
posted by VanishingPoint at 10:26 AM on April 29, 2011


and he wasn't afraid to say that the latest Benji (or Burt Reynolds) movie was crap

So much this. Can't remember the specific film, but I recall an exchange something like this:

S: This was a schmaltzy, sickly-sweet piece of garbage.
E: But as far as zany buddy animal/cop kid's movies go, it was well executed.
S: Buddy animal/cop kid movies suck. This was an insult to the intelligence of a five year old.
E: It was much better than Benji VI. It gets my thumbs up.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:09 AM on April 29, 2011


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