Monday, October 25, 2010

Less Cartoon = More Caption??

Alright, it has come to my attention that I haven’t really been pulling my weight in this blogging partnership. HENCE I am putting my shoulder to the wheel and my nose to the grindstone and my back into it and mixing a whole lot of musculoskelatal metaphors and bodyslammin this post into existence.

The week before last week we came up with what were, I believe, the finest 4 captions we'd put out to-date:
"Wow, the 5 o'clock gay porn double feature sure is getting popular."
"Dude, take your hands off the wheel. There's still 20 minutes left."
"So...I see that you have no mouth."
"Next time they give the evacuation order, let's not worry about clearing the TiVo queue."

It goes without saying that all of these were way too hilarious for The New Yorker editors, who chose these three remarkably unfunny captions instead:
"This is our worst carjacking ever."
"Try honking again."
"A lot of pizzas are going to be free today."

Hah. Ha....ha?

Okay—here's the thing I've deduced about this particular cartoon, and why our captions work so amazingly well with it compared to the 3 pieces of dreck above: This "cartoon" is barely a cartoon, as there is absolutely nothing funny about the image itself. (Or, as I wrote to Sam the day after it was posted,

) How quick I was to criticize this poor "BORING DRAWING/WOODCUT THING", not realizing that within its visual vaguery lay the potential for endless comedic iterations. Being such a tabula rasa of a cartoon, we could impose all sorts of comedic situations on it, and each could come to the sum total of hilariousness. In fact, I would argue, because the cartoon is so inexpressive/lifeless on its own, its verbal companion (the caption) seems all the more vivid in comparison: the unmistakable lifeblood of the joke.

This is precisely why the editors' chosen 3 captions come off as sucking even more than usual. Already unimaginative on their own, their banality is amplified by the implied richness of what they could be. It's as if their creators, greeted by the blank canvas of the cartoon, decided to draw a stick figure with a word bubble rather than doing any of the zillion more exciting things they could do with such freedom/space to create. (Might I suggest this, for example?)

Anyway, so does less cartoon really = more caption? Clearly we don't have enough evidence yet to draw any real conclusions (though I would say that in this case, less cartoon at least equaled an especially hysterical caption-creation process, during which I may or may not have almost peed on my couch when Sam suggested "So...I see that you have no mouth"). I do suppose that all we can do for now is keep soldiering on with the hypothesis in mind, and see what results. On y va!!

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