It could be my only chance to get my name in The New Yorker: the cartoon caption contest. I've been submitting captions every week for the past month; once you start, it's pretty addictive.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Unfortunately it's got me thinking maybe my one-liners aren't that original. But the consolation, it seems, is that neither are anyone else's. Once the magazine editors choose the winner, they post all the losing entries. Perusing the entries, I was struck by how many of them were similar. For example, for the following cartoon, about one caption in ten made some reference to "the long arm of the law."
That's remarkable when you think of how "unique" New Yorker readers are supposed to be (the winning caption: "Please try not to stare at his disproportionately short right arm").
As far as I can tell, there are around 3,000-5,000 entries per contest. And when the three finalists are announced, you can bet that about 4,907 of those people–myself included–think, well mine was better than those.
I'm quite proud of the one I submitted for last week's contest:
"I'm gonna have to pay you in cigarettes."
"Now the large bucket's got warm water, and the small one's got cold. If you don't start talking–well, let's just say you're going to be very uncomfortable."
I'm not holding my breath, though. When I think of the selection process, I picture this tired intern having to comb through 4,000 entries in an hour every Monday morning: skim... skim... no, no... no... NO... definitely not... no... no... maybe... no... no... no... what the hell?... no... whoops, dropped a page–no time to pick it up... no... no... NO!... no... no... I got an MFA at the Iowa Writers' Workshop for this?
Even with such a minuscule chance of winning, it's fun. I'd like to ask for your help on this week's contest. For the below cartoon, the best I've been able to come up with is, "Then she said, 'you tell me, Doc, does this hurt? How about THIS?'"
Readers, I'd love to see your suggestions–no matter how ridiculous (you can submit anonymously)–in the comments field!