David Borchart has drawn several angry sheep circling a few frightened herding dogs. One of the dogs is speaking.
Because it looks like the oppressed have risen up against their oppressors, I first went for something political. Maybe the sheep were radicalized by something they read, and that possibility led to, “Damn that Communist Manifesto.”
I then used the color of the sheep’s wool to put a spin on a current activist movement: “White Lives Matter.”
Next I combined the idea of revenge with a breeder’s term for female dogs and came up with, “It’s payback, bitches,” a slight variation on the more common, “Payback’s a bitch.”
Finally, I used an old saying—“They’re wolves in sheep’s clothing”—that took on a new meaning in the context of the drawing.
Now let’s see how you did.
The dogs look humiliated (as they should) and several captions emphasized their shame. My two favorites were:
- “Let’s never speak of this.”
- “I never expected to die of embarrassment.”
Another caption implied that the dogs’ chastened looks reflect not their true feelings but a strategy for surviving the encounter: “Try to look sheepish.”
A lot of entries played on the word “ewe,” and I liked these two:
- “I thought ewe turns were illegal.”
- “F ewe.”
It took me a while to get the second caption, and my delayed response reminded me of a scene from The Odd Couple—the movie, not the TV show. Oscar Madison is yelling at his roommate, Felix Unger, for signing a note with just his initials, and says, “It took me three hours to figure out that FU was Felix Unger.”
Here’s another decent pun that references the F word: “We’re flocked.”
There were many references to Dolly, the ewe who was the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell. The best such caption noted that the sheep in Borchart’s drawing are atypically aggressive: “They’ve been cloning the surly one.”
One of you implied that these sheep are fulfilling Christ’s prophecy that the meek shall inherit the earth: “I blame it on a literal reading of the Bible.”
There were a few nods to “Silence of the Lambs,” but the best was, “It’s the silence that’s creeping me out.” This caption not only fits the drawing; it captures the sense of dread that the movie conveyed so effectively, and that the dogs in this cartoon might be experiencing.
Here are two examples of a caption that connects the dogs’ specific breed to a topical political issue:
- “No one respects borders anymore!”
- “It’s a border collie crisis.”
I prefer the second example, primarily because it does not include an exclamation point. The first caption would be much more effective without it.
Many of you submitted captions that addressed the soporific effect of counting sheep. The best of these recognized that the dogs would be trying to protect themselves by staying awake: “They’re just waiting for us to nod off.” Two good variations on this joke were, “Stop counting!” and “Stay awake, boys.” Another variation put a clever and positive spin on the dogs’ predicament: “At least we’ll go in our sleep.”
Two other “counting sheep” captions ignored the sleep angle and made fun of the dogs for their inability to keep an accurate tally of the circling sheep: “I’ve lost count,” and “I’ve lost count, but there are thousands of them.” Usually I’d prefer the shorter version, but the longer version is the rare example of a caption that’s actually improved by the additional words.
A few of you name-checked a 1965 hit by Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs. The best such entry was the shortest: “Wooly bullies,” a caption so perfect and perfectly obvious I’m kicking myself for not having thought of it.
In another entry, the dog makes the best of a bad situation by saying, “On the upside, they’re not straying.”
One of you had the border collie acknowledge the inevitability of the situation, as the sheep were bound to finally realize that they outnumbered and could overpower the dogs: “I was afraid they’d catch on someday.”
In another caption, the dog tries to summon help by using an old expression that works especially well in the context of this drawing: “Quick, somebody cry wolf.”
Finally, one of you made a clever reference to an idiom that denotes a futile attempt to control or organize something inherently uncontrollable. While grudgingly acknowledging the sheep’s ability to herd dogs, the border collie casts doubt on their ability to round up a more difficult species by saying, “Yes, but can they herd cats?”
I’m impressed. That was a tough drawing to caption, and many of you rose to the challenge. My choice for the best out of a surprisingly strong pool is, “At least we’ll go in our sleep.”
I’m nervous about the next contest, which features a drawing from my boss, but I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ll all do with it.