Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Entries in the Moment Cartoon Caption Contest for July/August 2013

Up until this point, my entries in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest have been something of a disappointment. Part of the problem has been my lackluster captions, to be sure, but the other part of the equation is the sheer number of outrageously clever captions submitted, some 5,000 to 10,000 most weeks, I'd guess. You really have to be funny to stand out in such a large crowd, and I concede I'm not that funny.

Wouldn't it be great to find a caption contest or two with a more manageable number of submissions? Of course it would. I was surprised to learn just last month that The New Yorker's cartoon editor Bob Mankoff himself provides cartoons to be captioned for another publication, the bimonthly Moment magazine. He serves as the judge as well, selecting three finalists each month. The winning caption is then chosen by the readership at large. Moment describes its subject matter as "Jewish Politics-Culture-Religion" and quite naturally that includes a caption contest. Who knew? Imagine my astonishment to learn that for the July/August cartoon there were only about fifty entries. Fifty!

The format of the contest is similar to The New Yorker's but there are a few important differences. All the cartoons to be captioned are devised by Mr. Mankoff. Captions for each cartoon are submitted in the contest by leaving public comments on the site. While there are no limits to the number of entries one can submit, submitted captions are visible to everyone. (In that sense, this is much like Danny Shanahan's Caption Contest, the very first one I entered back in April.) I find this aspect of the format preferable to The New Yorker's because I don't have to go through the painful process of editing my beloved captions down to one and only one.

What I'm not at all sure about is the best strategy to use here. Should one enter early and try to beat out others who might be on the verge of coming up with the same general idea? Or should one save one's gems for late in the contest so as not to tip one's hand too early? I have no answer for this one. It happens that I entered late, but that was only because I discovered the contest close to the entry deadline. Next month's strategy remains to be worked out. This is how the Moment Caption Contest appeared when I first stumbled upon it:

The Moment Cartoon Caption Contest as it appeared when I discovered it last month. At the top is the July/August 2013 Moment cartoon to be captioned. The finalists for May/June are at bottom right, and the winning caption for March/April is at the lower left. All the drawings are by Bob Mankoff.

Here then are all the entries I submitted. I put my favorite caption first. I'd say the third caption is a close second and the fifth caption a close third choice. I don't know why I submitted the other captions. The cartoon, once again, is by Bob Mankoff:

"Since you're new here, you'll be winding on weekends."
"...And no one protests when we expose them to toxins."
"Our feed bills have gone down but we're using more WD-40."
"There you have it. Identical copies without the expense of cloning."
"There's a Nobel Prize waiting for whomever teaches them to wind themselves."
"No, I don't feel like reminiscing about live rats."

The incredible upshot is, one of my captions was selected as a finalist! While I would have gone with my very first caption, I'm not going to quibble with the cartoon editor of The New Yorker. That's not my style.

Pretty cool, right? Anyway, just so we're clear on the magnitude of this achievement, the number of entries in the Moment magazine Cartoon Caption Contest is about one-percent of those in The New Yorker's weekly contest.

The contest continues. The competition is stiff. Soon the Moment readership will select one of these captions to be the winner. The grand prize is a gift subscription to Moment. I'll keep you posted.

November 19, 2013 Update:  Winning Caption

Note:  Through no fault of his own, Bob Mankoff has been mentioned numerous times on this blog. See my blog entries here and here.

Bob Mankoff's New Yorker blog is here. The man can write!

Here is his work in the Cartoon Bank.

See news about Bob Mankoff entries on Ink Spill here.

Check out the Moment caption contest here. You might even vote for one of the finalists. Wink, wink.

This is my very first entry in the Moment Cartoon Caption Contest, but I'm not exactly new to the game. About five months' worth of my moderately amusing entries in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest can be found here.

Danny Shanahan's website is here. His Caption Contest was introduced in April but is temporarily on hold. I have a few caption entries on the back burner there. Well, is ten a few?



  1. I loved your "Feed bills have gone done/WD-40" caption immediately before I knew it was chosen to be among the finalists. Also, I voted for you via the line you provided. I really hope you win.

    1. Why, thank you, Leo! It seems you and The New Yorker's cartoon editor are in harmony here.

      I haven't voted yet. I'm still trying to decide on the best caption. ;)