Before I explain how I came up with a few captions for Shannon Wheeler’s drawing and highlight the best of your entries, here’s a message from Bob Mankoff:
“Congratulations to all of you who entered our new Cash-Prize contest! You did something most people can’t do and that’s come up with any caption at all. It’s hard. Our brains our wired to deal with reality, not surreality. Most people look at this kind of image, draw a blank, mutter “blankety-blank,” and return to figuring out how to get more miles per gallon. But not you. Your brains are wired differently, so instead of drawing a blank you gave yourself a chance to draw a check for $1,000.”
Now for my commentary, this contest was deceptively hard. Shannon’s cartoon appears to be set in a park, where an angel and devil are seated next to each other on a bench. Playing on the ground in front of them are two toddlers—an angel and a devil. The devil on the bench is staring at them and looks exhausted or resigned or depressed. The angel on the bench is addressing him.
Initially, I thought it would be easy to come up with a concise caption that, as all good captions must, reconciled the disparate frames of reference: heaven and hell, fatherhood, and playdates. But I was wrong.
After staring at the image for a while, I focused on the antagonistic relationship between angels and devils and thought about parents who dislike each other but are nevertheless forced to spend time together because their kids are friends: “Lots of people hate their kids’ friends’ parents.”
I next thought about parents who brag about their children: “I’m not judging. I’m just saying mine is a little angel and yours is a little devil.”
Finally, I suggested that the devil was a divorced father whose time with his son was subject to court-imposed restrictions: “Look, if it were up to me your visits would be unsupervised.”
This is where I’d normally write, “Now let’s see how you did.” But before I get to your entries, let me explain how we selected this week’s winner. There’s a good amount of money at stake, so we wanted to make sure we did our best to pick the best caption. We therefore created a panel of five judges: me, Bob, Shannon Wheeler, and two other cartoonists (Trevor Hoey and Joel Mishon, both of whom work at CartoonStock). We made our judgments independently, and without knowing any entrant’s identity.
It turns out that, in many cases, the five of us liked different captions, so I will highlight every entry that at least one of us favored.
OK, now let’s see how you did.
Several of you suggested that that the angel and devil have more in common than one would expect:
- “Hard to believe they have the same mother.”
- “They’re twins. By the way, how do you know my wife?”
- “Wait…his mom is a Sheila from Hoboken, too?’
- “How’s my ex?”
Here are the best two divorce jokes:
- “Well, sure your divorce went better – you have all the lawyers.”
- “I got soul custody.”
That last entry is a decent pun, and here’s another: “I’m only his guardian.”
Here’s a clever variation on a patently false statement that’s made by people who try too hard to deny their racist tendencies: “We don’t see color, but we see horns.”
And here’s the best scatological joke: “You don’t know evil ‘til you’ve changed its diaper.”
One of you focused on the devils’ clothing: “Your son can pull it off, but you should lose the Speedo.”
And one of you made a reference to the best movie ever made about Satan impregnating a woman who lives on the Upper West Side: “How’s Rosemary?”
This entry suggests that the devil looks depressed because he and his son have nothing in common: “C’mon Frank. I’m sure he’ll be making bad choices before you know it.”
Here’s the best reference to recent and disturbing legal decisions on reproductive rights, the separation of church and state, gun control, and environmental protection: “So which one do you think will grow up to serve on the Supreme Court?”
Is there anything more annoying than a parent who claims their toddler is a genius? No. That’s why I like this caption: “I hear your kid‘s an evil genius.”
One of you alluded to the devil’s strained relationship with God: “I meant to say ‘Gesundheit.’”
Many of you focused on the challenges of parenthood:
- “Until I became a parent, I thought there was only one hell.”“So much for eternal rest.”
- “Little angel, my ass!”
- “Only when he’s asleep.”
- “My kid’s no angel, either.”
- “God forbid they listen.”
Sometimes the challenges are so overwhelming the parent regrets ever having children: “We should’ve used protection.”
As always, I’ll end with several captions that don’t fit neatly into any category:
- “Still, I’d take a paternity test.”
- “We’ve raised him without religion.”
- “They’re all cute when they’re little.”
- “I said I was sorry about the bath time/holy water incident.”
- “Do you think it’s parenting or genetics?”
I like that last joke, but I wish it were, “Nature or nurture?”
Congratulations to MARK STROUT, who submitted this month’s winning entry: “So much for eternal rest.” It’s short, it fits the characters’ expressions, and it addresses every aspect of the drawing—in this case, by alluding to both spirituality and parenting. In Bob’s words, “it solves the comic puzzle.” Most important, for us, it’s funny. Most important, for Mark, it’s money.