“Well, that’s embarrassing.” So began my submission to The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest (#665), and it explains how I feel after my entry made it to the finalists’ round but then came in last. Congratulations to the winner, Judy Kramer of Broomfield, Colorado, and the first runner-up, Andrew R. Blanford of Santa Barbara, California.
Now, on to our contest, featuring Bob Eckstein’s drawing of a couple’s counseling session. The therapist is addressing Mr. Potato Head and a woman who is presumably his wife but does not look anything like Mrs. Potato Head.
Some couples go into therapy because they have intimacy issues. Mr. Potato Head is a toy. When I tied those two ideas together I came up with these captions:
- “She’s not just a sex toy.”
- “She’s a woman, not a sex toy.”
- “Have you considered a sex toy?”
- “Every woman has needs, but he’s not that kind of toy.”
Assuming the woman is indeed Mr. Potato Head’s wife, I thought the couple’s problems might stem from her refusal to take his last name:
- “And you don’t want to take his name?”
- “And you want to keep your last name?”
- “Most women nowadays just keep their names.”
- “And how does that make you feel, Mrs.—I’m sorry, Carol.”
Finally, I made a reference to the storage compartment in Mr. Potato Head’s back: “There’s a lot here to unpack.”
Now let’s see how you did.
There were so many potato-related puns (especially about the couple’s “tots”), but the best were a few sex jokes:
- “Any problems in the sack?”
- “So the problem is that she doesn’t give Mr. Potato head?”
- “She says you’ve been acting like a dick tater.”
The second caption would be better if “she doesn’t” were changed to “you don’t,” and a comma after the word “dick” would improve the third caption, but congratulations to whomever submitted what are by far the most vulgar entries I’ve ever highlighted in this feature.
A few submissions were based on the idea that Mr. Potato Head is an actual potato as opposed to a toy:
- “She feels you aren’t tender enough.”
- “You still need to respect him, even if he came from dirt.”
Many captions addressed the toy’s interchangeable parts, and these were among the best:
- “Have you tried putting on a happier face?”
- “He says you’re always trying to change him.”
- “He has to want to change.”
- “How does it make you feel when she threatens to rearrange your face?”
- “How do you feel when she rearranges your face?”
- “Yes, you can change the way he looks, but you can’t change who he is.”
Another two “interchangeable part” captions focus on the ears in a way that cleverly addresses the need to listen to your partner during therapy:
- “Let’s try leaving the ears in when she’s talking to you.”
- “Why do you take your ears out when she wants to talk?”
Like I did, one of you focused on the storage compartment in Mr. Potato Head’s back (“The first step, Loretta, is to stop putting things in his head”), while another one of you assumed the woman was reluctant to take Mr. Potato head’s name (“Julie will return to her maiden name”). I’d like that last caption even more if the words “return to” were replaced with “resume using.”
The next caption surprised me because it presumes that the couple is not in therapy but in a meeting with their son’s principal: “Your son is fine and we’ve fired the school lunch lady.”
Finally, we have two captions that address a common complaint that therapists hear in marriage counseling:
- “Do you resent that the children play with him more?”
- “So you’re upset because the children think he’s the fun one?”
That last caption is terrific and my choice for the best of the week.