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Gaming the New Yorker's Cartoon Caption Contest

by Jake Mohan 


Tags: New Yorker, Slate, Patrick House, cartoons,

nyersPatrick House, a recent winner of the New Yorker’s cartoon captioning contest, shares the secrets of his success in Slate. His approaches range from the academic (employing the “theory of mind”) to the pragmatic (lobbying friends and colleagues to vote for his entry online). But it’s most important, House argues, to always keep in mind the urbane brand of (non-)humor the magazine’s cartoons specialize in—a comic sensibility that always elicits a light chuckle, never a hearty guffaw. “You are not trying to submit the funniest caption,” he reminds us, “you are trying to win The New Yorker's caption contest.” As for me, I’ve always preferred this all-purpose caption.

Image courtesy of swanksalot, licensed under Creative Commons.

p vincent
6/7/2008 8:35:20 AM

Fasincating article. Thanks for sharing the 'secrets' of New Yorker captioning success. Who would of thought I would reading a Wikipedia 'theory of mind' article on a Saturday morning? I have entered before and never got a whiff. And I know personally that everything I submitted were pure winners. In reading your insights, it is, if I may be so bold to observe, as if you'd invented captioning itself. I will now try harder and be more focused; or, perhaps, I will smugly not bother, snug in the belief that, while my captions would, in my view, no doubt be better, I refuse to share them with a publication as fickle as the New Yorker. The anti-New Yorker contest looks like the place for me.[Shameless plug: visit Witsterblog www.witsterblog.blogspot.com and Digg it.]


anon_6
6/4/2008 3:47:52 PM

I always enjoy Daniel Radosh's anti-New Yorker contests: http://www.radosh.net/archive/002299.html#comments