It was a mid-August afternoon in 2010 and I was last in line at a coffee shop in Franklin when I realized that Brad Paisley had walked in and was directly behind me.
I turned and said what most star-struck fans would say in such a moment: “Hey, I really enjoyed the article about you in The New Yorker magazine last week.”
Brad seemed pleased and surprised and said, “Wow, thank you. I didn’t know folks in Nashville read The New Yorker.
“I have to admit, I subscribe to it mainly for the cartoons,” I replied.
“Same here,” he said. “And I send captions in for the cartoon caption contest and I never win.”
“Me too!” I exclaimed. “And don’t you often feel that your caption is better than the three finalists and the winner?”
The Close Bond of Comedy
I feel that Brad and I bonded in that moment, brought together by fate, the need for caffeine, and the common experience of having our award-winning comedy not recognized by so-called “judges” at The New Yorker.
Sure, I feel some consolation that a talented artist with a great sense of humor and a trophy case full of gold records, Grammys, and CMA awards has also been snubbed by the snobs in New York. But this past week I snapped like a sketch pencil when I saw the three finalists for this cartoon.
My submitted caption read, “Mr. Taylor, the lab tests indicate that your ginger levels are abnormally high.”
I know, I know; please hold your applause.
But here are the three finalists for the winning caption:
1. “Have you tried icing it?” (Not bad, I admit)
2. “We’d like to keep you here for further tasting.” (A pun, I get it)
3. “It’s a miracle you survived. Your house was totally devoured.”
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
That last caption should not have qualified, much less be given the possibility of earning, at worst, the bronze medal. THE GINGERBREAD MAN DID NOT LIVE IN A GINGERBREAD HOUSE!
Dear David Rosania from Rye Beach, New Hampshire, you don’t even have the story right! The classic tale which first appeared in 1875 features a childless old woman whose baked gingerbread figure comes to life, leaps from the pan, and runs away, eluding the old woman and her husband, farm workers and farm animals before (spoiler alert) the fox tricks the Gingerbread Man into trusting him and ultimately has the G-man for dessert.
There’s no gingerbread house, David.
I’m inclined to wonder if instead of actual qualified judges at The New Yorker versed in the fine art of cartoon and caption humor …
a) An office worker down in accounting picks three finalists at random. Or maybe it’s just an intern.
b) A Russian judge picks the finalists. (You know, there’s a reason why you don’t recall hearing about any Russian stand-up comedians.)
c) A monkey pulls three captions out of a bowl.
d) A Russian monkey pulls three captions out of a bowl. (You know, there’s a reason why you don’t recall hearing about any Russian monkeys doing comedy.)
But I know me — I’ll pledge to boycott the caption contest and then next week I’ll see the cartoon on the back page of The New Yorker and will submit a great caption, only to have my superior entry completely overlooked by a Russian monkey office intern down in accounting.
Hey, Brad, maybe you’ll have better luck. First one to be a finalist buys the coffee, OK?