Every issue, we publish a cartoon (drawn by New Yorker cartoonist Ben Schwartz) and ask our readers to caption it. We wanted to learn more about our most prolific contest contributors. Read more participant profiles here.
How did you find out about Moment’s caption contest?
From Stephen Nadler’s blog, Attempted Bloggery. (He made it clear the odds of winning are sensibly higher here than in The New Yorker, which of course intrigued me.)
How long have you been participating in the contests?
I stepped into “the club” for the first time with the July/August 2016 contest. Two years now!
What, in your opinion, makes a caption great?
Not sure. But it’s easy to recognize a good caption. And difficult to come up with one.
I have to confess I don’t actually put actual work or much thinking in this enterprise, but instead rely on sudden spurts of inspiration. When the muse is kind and decides to smile or, better, laugh out loud. For the July/August 2017 cartoon, the first five entries in the contest were mine, all devised at a fast pace. Followed by a meta-comment, also mine: “Good grief, I’m on a roll (or a bagel)…” I had a few more entries later for the same contest. None made it to the finals.
Do you know how many contests you’ve won?
I won two contests in a row: September/October and November/December 2017. I must have been particularly funny at the time.
What is your favorite caption you’ve ever created? Why?
Not sure, I like different entries for different reasons. I quite understand why some were not picked up, though I may also be baffled sometimes by some among those that made the finals.
What is your professional background in?
Computer analyst. Leonard Cohen kvetched, “They sentenced me to 20 years of boredom.” That’s nothing; my last job lasted a quarter of a century. (There was a festive lunch and, a month later, a layoff package.)
You once mentioned that fellow participant Gerald Lebowitz “broke the ice” between contestants in the caption contest and started conversations.
As mentioned, I’ve only seen the forum for the past two years (and earlier comments keep getting discarded). Gerald was, so far as I recall, the first to break the “austere” comment-exclusively-as-contest-entry tradition (I suspect he’s got even more free time on his hands than I do). I was, like a few others, happy to join in with an occasional aside. It led to the emergence of a certain esprit de corps, even if somewhat inconsistent, and not everyone participating.
One random example (that I have a record of), during the January/February 2017 contest:
Stephen Nadler: “Let’s find enough kids to make a minyan.”
Gerald Lebowitz: “Let’s try to get a minyan together before he melts.” (Stephen Nadler deserves credit for this, I just tweaked his great line.)
Adrian Storisteanu: It’s becoming a committee… 🙂 “Let’s try to get a minyan together before spring.”
Stephen: Be my guest. Tweak away!
Adrian: It will soon become a Jewish camel…
What brings you back to the caption contest frequently? What draws you in?
Seeing the captions entered so far, maybe get inspired (especially in case of captioner block), and enjoying whatever else is going on in the discussions (if anything)…