First, today is my twin-daughters’ 16th birthday. Happy birthday, girls!
Now, on to the commentary. In the late Charles Barsotti’s cartoon, a businessman has just been knocked off his feet by a ball-shaped doppelganger who’s happily rolling along the ground. The man who’s been knocked off his feet is speaking.
This contest highlights the difference between a drawing that’s challenging and one that’s nearly impossible to caption.
The rolling man reminded me of a bowling ball, so I imagined the man who’s been knocked off his feet shouting a bowling-related insult: “This is the thanks I get for pulling you out of the gutter?” The main problem with this caption, of course, is the size of the rolling man, who looks less like a bowling ball and more like a beach ball.
Now let’s see how you did:
There were a lot of puns this week, and here are the best:
- “So, this is how you roll now?”
- “That’s not how we roll.”
- “Hey, slow your roll!”
- “What have I said about rolling into work late?”
- “Does everything always have to revolve around you?”
- “You are spiraling out of control!”
- “Stay in your lane!”
- “I should have known better than to walk down a dark alley.”
I also like this pun—“There’s such a thing as being too well-rounded, David.”—but it would be better without the name at the end. Remember to always finish with the word that serves as the punchline, and it will rarely be a proper noun.
This next pun stands out because it addresses the fact that both men are dressed for business: “I knew hiring you was a rounding error!”
The following entry is not a pun, but it is another business-related caption: “I wouldn’t lead off with that in the interview.”
Like I did, a few of you incorporated the word “gutter” into your captions:
- “Careful, you’ll end up in the gutter.”
- “I hope you wind up in the gutter.”
- “Get back in the gutter.”
Here’s the week’s best homonym: “That’s not your roll here.”
And here’s the best sex joke: “Circle jerk!” I know it’s vulgar, but it’s short, it matches the speaker’s expression, it addresses everything that’s happening in the cartoon and, frankly, it’s a strong contender for the best caption of the week.
The next two captions allude to a proverb about people who avoid cares and responsibilities by constantly moving:
- “A rolling stone gathers no boss.”
- “There’s no moss on that Cohn.”
The second caption doubles as the week’s best (and only) Jewish joke.
As I often do, I’ll end with a few strong captions that don’t fit neatly into any category:
- “I liked you better when you were rough around the edges.”
- “Keep smiling. It’s all uphill from here.”
- “It’s still a lame superpower.”
That last caption surprised me—it really came out of left field—but it also explained, in a way that none of the other entries did, exactly why the man who’s rolling along the sidewalk is shaped like a ball. It’s also funny, so I’m selecting it as the best of the week.
Lawrence Wood has won The New Yorker’s Cartoon Caption Contest a record-setting seven times and been a finalist four other times. He has collaborated with New Yorker cartoonists Peter Kuper, Lila Ash, Felipe Galindo Gomez, and Harry Bliss (until Bliss tossed him aside, as anyone would, to collaborate with Steve Martin). Nine of his collaborations have appeared in The New Yorker, and one is included in the New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons.