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December 27, 2013

Ten Years of Nonsense: "Dave's Law" of New Yorker Cartoons

Originally published March 1, 2013. I've changed the actual caption Iowahak uses to a slightly different one. And, Open Thread.


Iowahawk said something yesterday (which he's said before, but he reminded me of it yesterday) about The New Yorker's cartoons.

You know those drab, vague watercolor black-and-white cartoons skewered on Seinfeld for never making any sense?

Iowahawk proposed that every New Yorker cartoon -- every one -- could be made funnier by replacing its caption with:

"I think I'm going to kill myself."

Is it true? Well let's test this proposition under strict laboratory conditions. Let's do Science.

"I think I'm going to kill myself."

I'm going to mark that as a positive. But maybe we just got lucky the first time.

"I think I'm going to kill myself."

Pretty good! But two incidences does not define a trend.

"I'm think I'm going to kill myself."

Well, that works too.

For the last test in Phase One of our experiment, what about the fake New Yorker cartoon which was featured in Seinfeld? The one that made the point about these cartoons sucking and making no sense? The one with the pig at the complaints window that turned out to be stolen from a Ziggy?

"I think I'm going to kill myself."

Well that seals it then. Okay, Iowahawk was right: Every New Yorker cartoon is better with the caption "I think I'm going to kill myself."

But now we have to test against a Control Group. We have to make certain this rule is only applicable to The New Yorker. Perhaps it's an even more generally-applying rule.

What about Family Circus?

"I think I'm going to kill myself."

Interesting. Bloom County?

"I think I'm going to kill myself."

But what about Calvin and Hobbes?

"I think I'm going to kill myself."

Well this all seems very intriguing.

But one last test. Surely this trick could not possibly work with Peanuts.

Not Peanuts, surely.

"I think I'm going to kill myself."

Peanuts too.

Conclusions: Iowahawk was correct in his claim that the caption "I think I'm going to kill myself" makes all New Yorker cartoons funnier.

However, it seems the rule also applies to a large number of other cartoons. Iowahawk's rule might an even more powerful Principle of Science than he originally anticipated.

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posted by Ace at 06:58 PM

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