Friday, October 30, 2015

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #495

Here is my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #495 for October 26, 2015. The drawing is by Drew Dernavich.

"Our cybersecurity is now squeaky clean."

November 2, 2015 Update:  The Finalists

November 16, 2015 Update:  Winning Caption

Note:  Last week Benjamin Schwartz held a psychoanalytic session in a football huddle. My caption went all Dr. Phil. Take the results of Contest #494 along to your next fifty-minute hour.

Drew Dernavich cuts a pretty good cartoon.



  1. Replies
    1. Interestingly, I tried to follow your idea of keeping the speaker unaware of the cartoon's inherent incongruity, and in this instance you did not. Have we switched strategies?

    2. Actually, the idea is to make the speaker's statement have two meanings so that it applies to both the normal situation alone and the normal situation plus the incongruity. You can do this in three ways: 1) with a straight statement (like "Tap is fine.", where it's funny when applied to the incongruity), 2) with a pun where one meaning applies to the normal situation and the other applies to the incongruity (like "I can't believe you used that line to get me in here", or 3) with a twist in wording (like "I live about three seconds from here"). Only in type #3 is it obvious that the speaker is aware of the incongruity, but it's just a subtle nod to it.

      With my entry, I've gone with #2, a pun. "Outside perspective" can apply to either their physical view from the outside (the incongruity) or their opinion/viewpoint as people who don't work at the company (the normal situation, as if the window washers are in the meeting). So in one case he appears aware of the incongruity and the other he doesn't.

    3. Very cool and very well-reasoned. Thanks!

  2. Captions #1 and #3 fit my theory. #1 is type 1 (straight statement) and #3 is type 2 (pun). #2 doesn't fit in that it's just a straight joke without double meaning (it only applies to the incongruity). The straight jokes seem to get picked less often.