Our second $1,000 contest was not easy. I came up with just one caption—“Jewish firms have a Golem”—but we received a bunch of strong entries from you. This month’s judges included our regulars—Bob Mankoff, Trevor Hoey, Joel Mishon, and I—plus Ellis Rosen, who drew the cartoon.
We rated the submissions independently without knowing the entrants’ identities. Consensus was hard to reach. I will therefore highlight every caption that at least one of us had in their top ten.
Let’s start with an entry—“They do this every April 16”—that’s similar to Ellis Rosen’s original caption: “I always forget that Tax Day is rooted in pagan traditions.”
And now for the puns:
- “I’m reporting this to Human Sacrifices Resources.”
- “Very convincing straw man argument.”
- “This is it – the Final Accounting.”
- “This is my first year at Earning Man.”
- “It’s the Lord of the Files.”
In the movie “The Wicker Man”—the brilliant original from 1973, not the abominable remake from 2006—the residents of a secluded island make a human sacrifice to ensure a good harvest. These entries put a corporate spin on such rituals:
- “One downturn in billable hours and things get serious.”
- “If this doesn’t lower inflation, I don’t know what will.”
- “HR really goes out for Midsommar Fridays.”
- “Must have been a great quarterly harvest.”
- “Soon, they’ll sacrifice the quality report.”
A similar set of captions allude to pagan rituals, but not human sacrifices:
- “If anyone merits pagan ritual worship, it’s Dave from accounting.”
- “Take the offer. Every corporate job is a cult.”
- “And I thought they only worshipped money.”
- “He is Bob, the god of accounts receivable.”
- “I used to worship my boss.”
Here’s the best pandemic joke: “The return to office has been chaotic.”
This entry cleverly bemoans the fact that independent festivals lose their appeal when they sell out: “Corporations have kinda ruined Burning Man for me.” I like the joke but not the adverb “kinda”—it’s too cute—but that didn’t stop Bob from including this caption in his top ten.
I love this entry—“I still think accountants are boring.”—but I was alone in that assessment.
I would like this entry a lot more without the second sentence: “Try doing this over Zoom. Just sayin.” Those last two words are completely unnecessary and detract from an otherwise fine joke. A caption should always end with the punchline, which is never “just sayin’.”
Here are a few examples of common statements that take on surprising but fitting meanings in the context of the drawing:
- “Another meeting that should have been an email.”
- “Are you sure this won’t get back to HR?”
- “Corporate’s going paperless.”
The use of gender-neutral terms in the workplace can be important, but it can also go too far, as this entry suggests: “That’s Wicker Person.”
I like this joke—“They don’t actually light the lawyer on fire for liability reasons.”—but it could be punchier. Maybe, “They’d torch it, but they’re concerned about liability.”
These entries allude to corporate retreats:
- “They don’t actually burn it. They just fail to catch it in a trust fall activity.”
- “They’re really taking team building seriously this year.”
The following two entries work because the speaker’s oblivious and focusing on something irrelevant:
- “That’s not authentic wicker.”
- “Who wears a tie anymore?”
Before revealing the winning caption, and explaining why all five judges loved it, I’ll highlight two more captions that made Bob laugh:
- “Easy, Leonard. I think we’ve stumbled onto a tribe of auditors.”
- “I should go change for the interview.”
This week’s winner, Michael Pollick, submitted, “All I got was a cake and a card.” Instead of simply reconciling the disparate frames of reference—pagan rituals and corporate culture—Michael’s caption explains why the people in business suits are dancing around the Wicker Man. They’re celebrating a colleague’s birthday or retirement. His caption also explains why the person who’s speaking doesn’t look as alarmed as he would be if he were witnessing an actual pagan ritual or human sacrifice. He’s just surprised, and maybe a little disappointed.
Well done, Michael. You deserve $1,000.
Those of you who didn’t win this month’s contest should immediately start working on next month’s, which features a cartoon by Jon Adams. Your chances of winning are better than ever because we’re awarding six cash prizes: $500 to the winner and $100 to each of the five runners-up. Start captioning.