Have you ever noticed that the winning entry in The New Yorker caption contest seems like it’s always the second most clever one? It’s as though the online audience of the magazine who votes in the poll is entirely made up of the kind of people who buy the second most inexpensive bottle on the fancy wine list (seriously, we may have something here). Well, you’re not crazy. Patrick House, the guy who won the competition for The New Yorker’s recent controversial monster cartoon explains in Slate the recipe for a winning caption. “You are not trying to submit the funniest caption,” he starts out. “You are trying to win The New Yorker’s caption contest. ” It turns out that there is a complicated thought process that should go into crafting your entry. It can’t be too smart, it can’t be too punny, and it should delve into the mind of the characters in the image. But most important of all, we learn, is the secret that we’ve had inside of us all the time: shameless self-promotion. Writes House:
I Googled my fellow finalists: a legislative director in New York and a public-affairs director in Seattle. Clearly 9-to-5 types, at a loss for time, who would be unable to take advantage of the fact that the contest is decided by an online vote. You can and must do better, preferably by launching a full-scale viral marketing campaign. E-mail everyone you know. Create a Facebook group. Call in longstanding debts. It helps if, like me, you have no shame. I had musicians pitching me at their shows, professors pitching me in their lecture halls, and old ladies at cafes pitching me to their grandnieces.
Okay, so for this week’s contest, we’re going to follow his advice and enter the following caption: “I don’t care, you’re not setting one more foot in here until you take off that dirty parachute.” If it makes it, you all have to vote for us, okay? If you have a better unfunny/thoughtful one, put it in the comments and we’ll enter those too.