Sunday Funnies - Special New Yorker Edition

Cidu Bill on Apr 22nd 2012

In honor of the fact that I’m letting my New Yorker print subscription expire after many, many years — it’s just easier to read it on my phone now; Eustace Tilley would just plotz, I know — I went through my backlog of New Yorker LOLs and realized I had no idea which of them I’d already used and which ones I hadn’t.

It’s even possible that one or two of these aren’t from the magazine at all, but rather from The Rejection Collection. Who can tell sometimes?

So I’m solving the problem by posting all of them at once. There will be some “reruns,” but most of them should be new to most of you.










Filed in Bill Bickel, Comics That Made Us Laugh Out Loud, New Yorker, comics, humor, lol | 53 responses so far

53 Responses to “Sunday Funnies - Special New Yorker Edition”

  1. waferthinmint Apr 22nd 2012 at 01:03 am 1

    i have a quibble.

    the ashes joke has the chinese for “woman’s family daily” on the door. it annoys me no end when cartoonists put up random nonsense to indicate Chinese. the joke would have been subtler and funny if it had just said Mott street in English and left it to the reader to figure out.

    note that this is done ALL the time with asian languages and asians return the favor with Engrish signage and t-shirts. that bothers me just as much.

  2. James Pollock Apr 22nd 2012 at 01:13 am 2

    “the joke would have been subtler and funny if it had just said Mott street in English and left it to the reader to figure out.”

    Except, of course, the residents of the 49 states or so who have no idea that “Mott Street” means “Chinese”, and would therefore have no idea why the artist/editors found the cartoon funny at all. (Yes, it turns out that they’ll sell copies of the New Yorker to people who live in, say, Montana.)
    Besides, the fact that the artist bothered to locate and copy some actual Chinese, even if it’s not even close to the CORRECT Chinese, is probably more effort than 99% of them would have, which is to just make some “Chinese-looking” doodles.

  3. waferthinmint Apr 22nd 2012 at 01:48 am 3

    you are absolutely right! I forgot that Google only works in NY! and the fact that other cartoonists are more racist DOES mitigate the offense. I know my black friends are grateful when I use “darky” instead of the N-word; it just shows that I am thinking of them.

    Still to be read sarcastically: Racism and ignorance are the only alternatives to google — that’s why when movies depict non-european languages the actors just chant singsong words, right? that way they don’t offend the people too lazy to have learned another language.

    Non Sarcasm:
    Seriously, Chinatown NY has been at Mott St. since 1870. it is the largest enclave of Chinese people in the Western hemisphere and is one of the oldest ethnic Chinese enclaves outside of Asia.

    wouldn’t the readers of the New Yorker, even in Butte Montana, know that or know how to look it up? it’s not as if this were in USA Today or intended to run next to BC or the family circus in a local daily.

    Further, if this comic were referring to Mulberry St. no one would expect fake italian. and as I pointed out it annoys me just as much when Japanese name a chain of clothing stores Nice Glaup, because it “sounds foreign”.

  4. waferthinmint Apr 22nd 2012 at 02:04 am 4

    wow, that Waferthin guy is kind of a jerk! couldn’t he have found a better way to put his position forward in a less confrontational way? I’ll bet he’s already regretting being such a poop.

  5. Scrub Ninja Apr 22nd 2012 at 02:32 am 5

    Extremely few people outside NYC have any clue what Mott St represents, or Mulberry St either. Sure they could look it up, but that wouldn’t do much for the humor. If you have to do research for the punchline, it’s not a joke, it’s just a puzzle.

  6. Kilby Apr 22nd 2012 at 02:50 am 6

    … if this comic were referring to Mulberry St. no one would expect fake italian

    No, they would be expecting an obscure reference to Theodore S. Geisel.

    Omitting the Chinese reference entirely would obliterate the joke for the vast majority of readers. Nobody outside of NYC is going to understand the street name, unless they notice the annoying “Chinesified” font in which “Mott St.” has been rendered. Using correct, but inappropriate Chinese (or a faked version) will bother at most only those who can read Chinese, and is in any case less offensive than the font.

  7. Kilby Apr 22nd 2012 at 02:52 am 7

    P.S. @ Scrub Ninja (5) - I agree. I do not pull out a computer to decipher cartoons, that’s what CIDU is for.

  8. Charlene Apr 22nd 2012 at 03:31 am 8

    I didn’t even know New York had a Chinatown until now. Mott Street - isn’t that where Clamato juice comes from? Why would I Google something like that?

  9. jjmcgaffey Apr 22nd 2012 at 04:07 am 9

    Wow. Several of these got real smiles - no actual laughs, but they were funny. And one is a CIDU. What is the submarine crewman saying a variant of? I can’t come up with anything but “taking on water”, and that doesn’t really go with the strippers.

    Guess, synchronized peeing, permission to move freely, boat bris, and strategic nudity bar were all funny to me. I think I’d seen synchronized peeing before, but it might even have been in the magazine - I don’t think I’d seen it here. Possible, but I don’t remember it with comments. The rest were all new to me.

  10. James Pollock Apr 22nd 2012 at 04:29 am 10

    When I think of “Chinatown”, I think of west coast cities. I realize that New Yorkers believe that the universe revolves around New York, but the readership of the New Yorker DOES include people who are not New Yorkers; some, in fact, who have never been in New York.

    There’s a fairly short list of streets that are (nearly) universally known… Haight and Ashbury, Rodeo Drive, and Wall Street, for example. Most, however, are not. To work, a cartoon has to evoke something the reader knows about.

  11. Proginoskes Apr 22nd 2012 at 04:42 am 11

    “It’s even possible that one or two of these aren’t from the magazine at all, but rather from The Rejection Collection. Who can tell sometimes?”

    As a rule of thumb, the ones in the Rejection Collection are funnier (to me).

  12. Proginoskes Apr 22nd 2012 at 04:42 am 12

    #1 - #5 are from the Rejection Collection, and the last one might be.

    (Posted separately to maximize the odds of this appearing.)

  13. zookeeper Apr 22nd 2012 at 08:45 am 13

    The take out box for the ashes set me up - sort of an “eww” in a different direction; the synchro pee joke make me laugh. Pretty good for a Sunday morning.

  14. mitch4 Apr 22nd 2012 at 08:57 am 14

    On first looking thru these, I didn’t even notice the dialog underneath the “Guess” cartoon, but it was funny anyway — as I was pretty sure what sort of guess he would be offering.

    A few years ago — gosh, it must have been early in the 80s! — an international student in our department was wearing a pair of Guess brand jeans, and I tried to engage her in a “who’s on first?”-style joke by asking “Who makes those nice jeans?” and when she said “Guess” trying “Oh I don’t feel like a guessing game; just tell me”. Not a big hit.

    A sincere question for Mr. or Ms. Mint — does the name “China Town” give offense? If not, maybe that could have been printed under the Mott Street sign instead.

  15. mitch4 Apr 22nd 2012 at 09:00 am 15

    And I especially like the very frustrating “Honk if you support us”. It’s such a good setup that we don’t need any hints on the drivers’ reactions.

  16. Wafferthinmint Apr 22nd 2012 at 09:14 am 16

    Mint is Mr.

    Chinatown is not offensive as far as I know. I’m not Asian so I don’t know first hand. It is not for personal reasons that I was ticked off: I was annoyed because I dislike ignorance. I dislike people clinging to ignorance even more. Saying “there’s no need to look up something correct; my readers are too foolish to know better” is not good.

    I think the cartoonist didn’t write “Chinatown” because he correctly assumed that most readers of the New Yorker were culturally educated enough to recognize the largest concentration of Chinese people in the western hemisphere.

    If it were gibberish Yiddish, French, or Italian, would we be having this argument?

  17. BBBB Apr 22nd 2012 at 09:58 am 17

    I agree with Kilby #6. Without the Chinese characters, my memory would focus on “And tell me what street / compares with Mott Street in July; / sweet push carts gently gliding by…” (Rodgers & Hart, Manhattan), which doesn’t automatically imply Chinese….for me, at least.

  18. Jeff S. Apr 22nd 2012 at 10:53 am 18

    [Sarcasm on] Well, I’m just a backwater hick in Oklahoma, so while I knew there was a Chinatown in New York, I certainly didn’t know there was a specific street where it was located. I have also heard that there are “boroughs” in NYC such as Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Statten Island, but other than Manhattan (island, right?), I have no idea where they are actually located. [Sarcasm off]

    The street address was added for the benefit of the New Yorkers. The Chinese writing and the Asian facial features were added for the benefit of everyone else.

  19. Lola Apr 22nd 2012 at 12:03 pm 19

    Oh, dear. Clamato has been invoked.

    I don’t live in NYC, but I’ve been there maybe 30 times and to NYC’s Chinatown at least 5 or 6 of them. Never would have gotten the Mott St. reference. It took me a couple of ticks to get it, but it was VERY funny when I did. I’ve sent this to my daughter who’s been living in Taipei for 4 years because I’m curious to see if she comes up with the same translation. Also, Taipei 101 is built to resemble the Chinese take-away cartons.

  20. George P Apr 22nd 2012 at 12:42 pm 20

    I must be culturally ignorant, too, because I had no idea what Mott Street represented. I guess those of us who live outside New York are just idiots.

    I agree with the fact that fake Chinese is worse than no Chinese at all, but I don’t like being called uneducated for not knowing where Mott Street is.

    As has been noted, there’s a big world outside New York City, and most of it doesn’t care about the details of New York City. I know you find that difficult to believe, but it’s true.

  21. pepperjackcandy Apr 22nd 2012 at 02:23 pm 21

    Doesn’t the Chinese actually say “women’s daily pigpen”?

  22. waferthinmint Apr 22nd 2012 at 02:34 pm 22

    i doubt it. but the last character is not clear to me. my chinese isn’t very good. (keeping in mind that it’s still better than SOME people’s geography. :-P)

  23. fj Apr 22nd 2012 at 02:36 pm 23

    I’ve been to Chinatown in San Francisco. I’ve been to Chinatown in London. Shoot… I’ve been Taipei. I’ve been to Shanghai…

    Mott Street? Sounds like a place to get applesauce…

    I guess I’m culturally ignorant, too.

  24. Keera Apr 22nd 2012 at 02:47 pm 24

    Everybody’s culturally ignorant about something. Everybody knows something that a lot of other people don’t know. It’s just the way it is - and one of the main reasons why the CIDU comments are so educational.

    As a non-New Yorker and non-subscriber to the New Yorker, I had no idea what Mott Street represents, so nice to get that added information. The joke worked for me because of the Chinese characters. It’s also a bit an ewww.

  25. Jeff S. Apr 22nd 2012 at 02:57 pm 25

    It’s an extra ewww if you nuke the wrong box for lunch the next day.

  26. turquoisecow Apr 22nd 2012 at 03:42 pm 26

    I’ve actually BEEN to Chinatown in NYC but I hadn’t heard of Mott Street. I associate Chinatown NYC with Canal Street, but then I’m not hugely familiar with the area. I understood the joke because of the Chinese characters. Leaving out the characters, it might work if the woman leaving the building were more distinctly Asian in appearance, or wearing traditional Asian clothing, or the crematorium had a pagoda-style design. But I do know that in Chinatown it’s quite common to see Chinese characters on everything, so it works.

    The first two cartoons were not overtly funny to me, but the rest got a :) if not a lol.

  27. Mark M Apr 22nd 2012 at 03:49 pm 27

    I like the “Honk” cartoon, but I’m a little confused as to why all the cars seem to driving straight at the group. Wouldn’t their chances of getting through be better if they attempted to go around them?

    Like jjmcgaffey, I don’t get the joke in the stripper comic.

  28. Ian Osmond Apr 22nd 2012 at 04:59 pm 28

    Chinatown starts at Essex Street, and goes from the old Combat Zone to the Theater District.

    EVERYBODY knows that, right Waferthinmint? Even people who don’t live in Boston? Because, see, Boston is the Hub of the Universe, so everyone should know all the details about which streets define our neighborhoods.

    Seriously, man — being annoyed at randomly copying Chinese characters — THAT I get. Totally understandable. But suggesting that “Mott Street” == “Chinatown” to anyone who doesn’t live around there? Are you serious?

  29. Ian Osmond Apr 22nd 2012 at 05:02 pm 29

    jjmcgaffey: the “joke” part of the submarine thing is more about using the periscope as a stripper pole, rather than the actual phrase. Although the phrase also has the subtle implication that, as there IS a standard-sounding phrase to express it, it’s a known and recognized hazard.

  30. pepperjackcandy Apr 22nd 2012 at 05:17 pm 30

    I actually thought it said “Mitt Street” at first.

    And besides, everyone knows that Chinatown is at Wentworth and Cermak.

  31. bAT L. Apr 22nd 2012 at 07:22 pm 31

    I don’t think it’s part of the comic’s intended joke, but there appears to be only one female on that submarine.

  32. Morris Keesan Apr 22nd 2012 at 08:07 pm 32

    Kilby #7: I’d love to know how you access CIDU, without pulling out a computer.

  33. Mark in Boston Apr 22nd 2012 at 09:15 pm 33

    Well, the name of the magazine IS “The New Yorker” after all. It’s not a magazine for Bostonians such as me. We have The Atlantic Monthly.

  34. furrykef Apr 22nd 2012 at 09:51 pm 34

    I speak a fair bit of Japanese, which shares many characters with Chinese, and I have to say I have no problem at all with the use of Chinese in the cartoon. The characters actually look pretty decent, even if they’re the wrong ones. And… seriously, “racist”? It’s racist to say nonsense in a foreign language? Nobody calls me racist if I speak nonsensical “French”. If I had to write Chinese on a sign in a cartoon I’d likely make something up too (though probably something silly, like my best attempt to say “this is a sign”). In any case, if the reader does not know Chinese, then what the sign says is irrelevant; if the reader does, then they can have a good laugh at the cartoonist’s expense. I’m not really seeing a downside here.

    you are absolutely right! I forgot that Google only works in NY!

    …Seriously? Are you completely unaware that, if the reader has to use google to get the joke, the joke has already fallen flat on its face? I hope you never try comedy.

    If it were gibberish Yiddish, French, or Italian, would we be having this argument?

    No, because nobody would be objecting in the first place…

  35. James Pollock Apr 22nd 2012 at 10:16 pm 35

    “If it were gibberish Yiddish, French, or Italian, would we be having this argument?”
    Well, comic effect has been obtained by making “French” words through the simple expedient of placing “Le or La” in front of the English word to be “translated”, and making “Spanish” words by taking the English, prepending “el”, and adding “o” at the end. Then, there’s the “Swedish Chef” on the Muppet Show, who never spoke a word of Swedish (as explained by Jean Stapleton, when she appeared on the show, he’s actually speaking “Mock Swedish”.)

    Returning to the cartoon in question, is it lazy? Yes. Is it hurtful? No.

    On another front, Chinatown can be found at Burnside and Sixth.

  36. Kilby Apr 22nd 2012 at 10:42 pm 36

    I think the periscope strippers were intended to be a minor pun on “stripers” (striped bass).

    P.S. @ Morris Keesan (31) - I had a feeling someone was going to call me out on this point. What I meant (@7) was that when I’m reading the comics (on paper or online), I don’t use a computer to figure out obscure details. I do enjoy reading about such obscure details here (later), but I’ve never had the opportunity to see and submit a CIDU (at least not before someone else already submitted it).

  37. mitch4 Apr 22nd 2012 at 10:50 pm 37

    Well, I’d say I do get pretty annoyed at fake Russian text — i.e. pretending to spell English words in closest-looking Cyrillic letters — when it uses я (the letter that looks like a backwards R) for R though that is not its sound, and somewhat when с (the letter that looks like C but sounds like S) is used for C.
    Similarly for fake Greek text that uses uppercase Sigma to stand in for E which it sorta looks like.

  38. zbicyclist Apr 22nd 2012 at 10:57 pm 38

    “waferthinmint Apr 22nd 2012 at 02:04 am 4

    wow, that Waferthin guy is kind of a jerk! couldn’t he have found a better way to put his position forward in a less confrontational way? I’ll bet he’s already regretting being such a poop.”

    This is my nominee for “best apology of the year”. Bravo.

    I think he has a good point about the Chinese characters (would it be so hard?), but even as semi-civilized Chicagoan who’s subscribed off-and-on to the New Yorker for decades I didn’t know Mott St was Chinese OR Mulberry St was Italian.

  39. mitch4 Apr 22nd 2012 at 10:59 pm 39

    William Gaddis’s great American novel The Recognitions has a diverting macabre story line in which a character leaves his cremation ashes to a monastery in Spain where, years ago, he spent some time living and studying. The package arrives with his return address but no clear labelling as to contents. The monks take it as perhaps a vitamin supplement powder, and begin adding it to the flour for their famous bread. The bread becomes even more celebrated. Among the later visitors who partake of it is the son of the deceased.

  40. Cidu Bill Apr 22nd 2012 at 11:06 pm 40

    I think my favorite gibberish-Yiddish is this, from The Producers (NSFW)

  41. mitch4 Apr 22nd 2012 at 11:13 pm 41

    I was briefly at Wentworth and Cermak this evening (see #29), but our party ended up at a Mexican restaurant on 18th Street off Ashland. That is indeed a largely Mexican-American neighborhood, whose ethnicity we recognize by calling it Pilsen.

  42. Lost in A**2 Apr 23rd 2012 at 06:44 am 42

    I’ve heard that Peter Sellers was pretty good at ‘mock languages.’ Occasionally he was heard, by native speakers, to be saying something insulting, when he wasn’t really saying anything at all.

    On mock Yiddish: I remember seeing a poster for a University seminar on Yiddish that was written English, using the Hebrew alphabet. And the local Hillel society offers bumper stickers and other paraphernalia with the local university’s name written in Hebrew.

  43. Lost in A**2 Apr 23rd 2012 at 06:45 am 43

    I didn’t quite get that right: the school’s name written using the Hebrew alphabet.

  44. MellowCake Apr 23rd 2012 at 08:37 am 44

    How about a whole song in gibberish english? :

  45. Kamino Neko Apr 23rd 2012 at 12:24 pm 45

    MellowCake - I knew exactly what the song was going to be. I love that song…man, it is catchy.

  46. Keera Apr 23rd 2012 at 12:35 pm 46

    John Cleese does a wonderful version of “sounds like English”, inspired by what your typical radio program(me) sounds like. I found a sample here:

  47. Lola Apr 23rd 2012 at 05:27 pm 47

    MellowCake. Awesome. Thank you.

  48. J-L Apr 23rd 2012 at 06:02 pm 48

    I love the “Honk if You Support Us” gag. How wonderfully “Catch 22″-ish.

  49. MollyJ Apr 24th 2012 at 12:15 am 49

    Is it just me, or does the teacher dude in MellowCake’s video look like Ben Folds?

  50. Crazy Sven Apr 24th 2012 at 09:05 am 50

    New Yorker cartoons are a staple product that I grew up with. There have been a select few that I simply didn’t “get”, but they are few & far between. The Synchronized Peeing sketch nearly blew me out of my chair. I’d never seen it; however, it clearly illustrates the fact that women are known to go to the Ladies Room together reflexively, like synchronized swimmers.

    Regarding the Mott Street bit; yes, it could have been done better and I’m sure it’s offensive to some…but the Chinese characters for “crematorium” may be had using any free online translator. It took me about two minutes. My Bucket List includes having a New Yorker cartoon published and I think that the editorial staff scrutinizes every aspect of a cartoon for continuity, so the random use of unrelated characters is a little sloppy. New Yorker is a New York product, hence the reference to Mott Street. If someone in Nebraska doesn’t get all the pieces of the puzzle…Google it. Assumed context should be enough either way.

    The submarine cartoon is a simple mockery of the proliferation of the “pole dancing” fad that has swept the nation. The periscope has obvious phallic significance as well; not to mention that they are atop a vessel full of sex-starved men.

    “Honk if You Support Us” is done in the classic New Yorker manner of simplistic perfection, leaving the reader with the paradoxical and subliminal punch-line.

    Just my $0.02 worth.

  51. Pinny Apr 24th 2012 at 02:46 pm 51

    Re: CIDU BIll (#40)

    There are enough real Yiddish words in there to make it sound genuine. Literally:
    “All people must make [something] day an entire buckwheat urinating bellybutton defecating.”

    The last 4 if these Yiddish words, “kasha, pishing, pupik, kahking” are examples of Yiddish sounding words that are often used when someone wants to sound like they are speaking Yiddish but in reality has no idea what they are saying. I assume that Mel Brooks knew this when he wrote the script as much as I would guess that Nathan Lane did not know their meanings when he said them.

  52. Cidu Bill Apr 24th 2012 at 03:04 pm 52

    Pinny, Nathan Lane said he just ad-libbed the sentence, so he probably just strung together every Yiddish or Yiddish-sounding word he’d ever remembered hearing.

    The funniest part of the bit, as far as I’m concerned, remains “strangely enough, neither did he.”

  53. The Ploughman Apr 25th 2012 at 02:50 pm 53

    I’m late to the party, but could it be that the nonsensical Chinese characters are an extra subtle (even by New Yorker standards) joke? That the cartoonist, knowing full well he could look up a proper phrase in Chinese, decided to suggest that the business was less than authentically Chinese or head-nod to those who would recognize them and are frequently subjected to bizarre phrases in Chinese characters?

    My favorite imitation of English is Aziz Ansari’s impression of an Indian imitating someone speaking English (I heard it in an interview on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast). It went something like “Orsch! Gorsh! Warshborsh!” Like the Swedish Chef with a mouthful of taffy.

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