December 2016

Winner of Eli's Cartoon Caption Contest No. 111

         "Why don't you two have a nice chat while I call my divorce lawyer."

                                              (by Anonymous)


My original caption: "Oh, it's you, dear. Can I have a divorce?"


First of all, I suspect "Anonymous" is really Cary Antebi being a little careless in how he submitted the set of five captions that included the winning caption. I'll try to find out for certain, and will post any information I get as soon as possible.


Anyway, congratulations to Anonymous for this victory -- it's a first! Whoever you are, you are now officially one of the funniest people around.

(Update: I heard from Cary Antebi and he is indeed "Anonymous". So this is actually his 25th victory -- but in the record books this victory will always have an asterisk next to it. Don't be so careless, Cary!)

Here are the other submissions that were under serious consideration:

"I've traded you in for a newer model." (by kelasher)

"It's more of a portfolio adjustment." (by Richartd Wolf)

"Don't blame me, I didn't make the seating arrangements." (by Cary Antebi)


And I thought you might be interested in Bob Mankoff's advice on how to win The New Yorker's Cartoon Caption Contest (he's the Cartoon Editor of The New Yorker). Here it is:

In a nutshell, be brief. As the immortal Bard said, “Brevity is the soul of wit / And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes.” I know there are reasons to doubt that advice; for one thing, the Bard could drone on a bit himself, and for another he wasn’t immortal.

Nevertheless, data gathered from our Caption Contest illustrate the point. Each week, there are about five thousand entries to the contest. However, there are by no means five thousand different entries. Below are some entries, from a recent contest, that all used the same joke. They appear alongside the ranking they received from our crowdsourcing algorithm.

“Sir, please take one small step out of the vehicle.” (5th)

“I’m going to need you to take one small step for man out of the vehicle, sir.” (14th)

“Sir, I’m going to need you to take one small step and one giant leap out of the car.” (109th)

“I need you to step out of the vehicle for a field sobriety test. Please take one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.” (697th)

So, to sum up, when you come up with your caption, look for the essence of the joke and then remove the tedious outward flourishes.



Now that sounds like some pretty good advice.

My next contest will be up in just a couple of weeks. Good luck to all of you in the New Year -- hope you have a happy and healthy one!

Eli's Cartoon Caption Contest No. 111

Contest No. 111 starts right now.

Briefly, here are the details: I'll supply a drawing of one of my old cartoons that has never been published, leaving off my caption. You are invited to supply your funniest captions. Simply (1) click on "Add New Comment". Then (2) scroll down past any other submitted captions and type in your name and your caption in the spaces provided. Then (3) click "Save".

Your caption (or captions) will be posted after I review your submission.

There is no limit on the number of captions you can enter for each drawing. Entries will be accepted and posted for one week, after which a winner will be announced and the winning caption will be printed. Below that I will also print my original caption.

The cut-off time and date for you to send in your captions is midnight Tuesday, December 27, 2016.

I will be the sole judge. The winning caption will be the one I judge to be the funniest one submitted (not necessarily the one that matches or comes closest to my original caption). Additional rules and regulations, for those of you who need such things, can be found here.

Below is the drawing that needs your funny captions.

Graphic Arts Monthly, 1985


Explanation: First of all, Graphic Arts Monthly was a respected trade publication covering (obviously) the graphic arts, printing, advertising and publishing industries. 

Second, about the phrase etaoin shrdlu, here's a good quote from Wikipedia:


"The letters on type-casting machine keyboards (such as Linotype and Intertype) were arranged by letter frequency, so e-t-a-o-i-n s-h-r-d-l-u were the lowercase keys in the first two vertical columns on the left side of the keyboard. When operators made a mistake in composing, they would often finish the line by running a finger down the first two columns of the keyboard and then start over. Occasionally the faulty line of hot-metal type would be overlooked and printed erroneously.

A documentary about the last issue of The New York Times to be composed in the hot-metal printing process (2 July 1978) was titled Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu."


So what it all adds up to is that in the good old days when printing type was cast from hot metal, there was a slight chance that you could come across the phrase etaoin shrdlu in your newspaper article, by accident. Sometimes I think the phrase was inserted on purpose, by typesetters who fancied themselves practical jokers.

The sad fact is that the entire hot metal typesetting industry was decimated and destroyed when computer technology took over and print and advertising type could be digitally created by anybody with a keyboard and the right software.

And now you also know why tnshrdl are the first consonants selected on "Wheel of Fortune", and why the vowels eaoiu are bought in that order.

Winner of Eli's Cartoon Caption Contest No. 110

                          "How can you expect a kid my age to be good?"

                                               (by Anne Noonan)


My original caption: "What's with all this gift-giving you do? Is it some sort of tax dodge?"


Cangratulations, Anne Noonan! This is your third winning caption, so once again you can announce to the world that you are one of the funniest people around.

These are the other entries that came that close to winning:

"Relax, I have a long list and my diaper was just changed." (by Diane)

"How do you keep your beard so white after going down so many chimneys?" (by Cary Antebi)

"I guess I wouldn't be jolly either if I had to sit in a hot suit all day for minimum wage." (also by Cary Antebi)

"I'm guessing the Red Ryder BB gun would be socio-politically incorrect this year?" (by Tim Collins)

"Give me all the toys in your bag. I've got a gun in my diaper and I'm not afraid to use it." (by mel tannenbaum)

Look for the next contest, which will be posted in a couple of weeks. Enjoy the holidays!