If your plan is to make good comedy, The New Yorker cartoon caption contest doesn’t exactly set you up for success. Each week, the magazine provides a caption-less drawing—usually depicting a weird scenario with no real joke implied—and asks their readers to produce one of those pithy, esoteric punchlines the magazine is famous for. Of course, we all know that one caption that always works is “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” but that just goes to prove that the caption contest is funniest when it’s being completely broken. Like, let’s say, when kids try their hand at it.
Yesterday, Emmy-nominated Jimmy Kimmel Live writer Bess Kalb shared some of the latest work from the comedic genius that is her cousin’s 9-year-old daughter, Alice. The precocious, comedy-writer-in-training reportedly, “grabs every [New Yorker] issue before her mom can get ahold of it,” flips right to the back, and pens one of her brilliant captions. The results are honestly better than most of what you see published in the magazine. This isn’t a knock on the New Yorker’s regular freelance cartoonists. But, “if you want a remote, get this one?” Come on! That’s gold.
Alice’s dry, absurdist wit is reminiscent of the dadaist anti-humor seen on the Bad Kids Jokes Tumblr or even a really G-rated version of Shitty New Yorker Cartoon Captions. The latter, in which “an imbecile desperately tries to win” the caption contest, is another great example of how the format works best when it’s done completely “wrong.” (You can hear more about the method behind these on the New Yorker’s own podcast here.)
Hopefully, the newfound viral success of Alice’s jokes will inspire the New Yorker to put her on staff as a full-time caption writer (that’s a job, right?). After all, people need something genuinely funny to glance at while sitting in their therapist’s waiting room.
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