34 Comments

  1. I like the stepladder one, but I think it suffers because the person is not obviously a child. It looks like a woman.

  2. Interesting pint, Singapore Bill. The “not my real mom!” acting out would be expected from a younger person than the … 22-y.o.(?) shopper shown. I figure she’s in the hardware store because she’s setting up her first apartment. But an 8-year-old, who could raise the step-parent issues, would on the other hand have no reason to be where this one is.

    The good compromise solution, which this cartoon may have found, is to have the ladder raising the question, which a human step-parent might do out of nervousness or exaggerated concern, not recognizing that the almost-adult stepchild is likely not thinking all that.

  3. I like the way the worm has his arm… I mean his… um… limb… around his lady-friend.

  4. I think the person has to be an adult for the joke to work. Children generally don’t own ladders so there would be nothing for the step-ladder to replace.

  5. Agree with Dan Sachs. It’s poor little potential adoptee step-ladder that is asking the woman to make him part of her family.

  6. Huh? Clearly Dan Sachs and Mr. Grumpy are correct that it is one of the ladders speaking. But I don’t follow with the role assignment that Mr Grumpy comes up with. The line of dialog clearly (for me) is based on the way a step-parent might talk to a (young) step-child. This is a firm cliché of tv melodrama or for that matter comedy.

  7. (I was just the other day listening to a talk about Die Meistersinger and had a hard time not writing Hans Sachs)

  8. The step ladder is speaking to the ladder purchaser in the same way a step-parent would speak to a step-child. That’s the joke and the source of the oy.

  9. I always understood that it is the stepladder talking. But it’s saying the kind of thing a the step parent would say to a child. So it doesn’t make sense to say it to an adult. And when I say “make sense” I mean in the world of the comic, where stepladder talk.

  10. SB – I see what you mean exactly, but children don’t purchase or own ladders. Adults do, so in a reversal of the norm, the “step” ladder has to be speaking to someone who already owns a ladder, and needs reassurance that their “real” ladder won’t be replaced…an adult. I’m not sure it can be any other way for the joke to work.

  11. It’s probably about the best you can do with “step ladder” but that’s not saying much. Now I guess you can go do “camp counselor”: “Today we have some FABULOUS events planned!”.

  12. Stan: I did not think of your interpretation and I do not think it works. If “step ladder” is analogous to “step parent” then it needs to be speaking to a child. You can’t change two things (step parent to step ladder and child to adult) or the analogy breaks down.

  13. Bill, consider that if you’re somebody’s step-daughter you are (automatically, thereby) also their step-child, even if too old to be called a child, as a non-relational term.
    And also, notice that “child” does not come from the caption at all, just from our discussion.

  14. It’s perfectly acceptable for an adult to be acquiring a new step parent and not be happy about it. And for the step parent to ask for a chance as this step ladder is doing.

  15. Now that you’re all explaining it to me, I don’t like the stepladder one anymore.

  16. SB – We don’t want to replace your initial interpretation. We just hope you’ll give us a chance.

  17. There is no analogy. There is no relationship. It is a play on the words step-parent and step-ladder. That’s all. I chuckled…. But then I smiled at Stan’s previous comment, too, so maybe it’s just me.

  18. Guero, what can you mean by “There is no analogy.”? The words in the caption are precisely something we understand as a likely statement by a human step parent to a human step child. And the humor is in seeing it coming from an inanimate step ladder. We don’t have a preexisting concept of “the step-ladder relationship” but immediately create one, on analogy to the human step-parent relationship.

  19. But that attempt to create the relationship seems to be problem most of you are having with this comic. Take it for what it is, a cliche quote from a step-parent juxtaposed onto a step-ladder. You don’t need to go any further than that.

    To quote from today’s Sunday Funnies, “Dissecting a good joke makes it less funny.”

  20. Stan: You’re not my real interpretation. You’re just some stupid idea my mom met in a bar while she was drunk. You’ll be gone, just like all the others.

    guero: if it’s just about a step ladder talking, then why is there a person? It’s because it is an analogy for a step parent talking to a child. And if it’s not a child it’s too weak an analogy and distracts from the execution of the joke. The entire discussion is because I said I thought it would be better if the person looked like a child. So that is obviously an issue because I came up with it all by myself.

  21. SB – C’mon buddy. You’re just lashing out. We’re all trying to make this work. Tell you what, let’s go for a pizza and talk this over. You like pizza, right? Here, have this new iPad.

  22. Right. That’s it. I’ve tried my best, but it all goes in one ear and out the other. I’m outta’ here. There are plenty more alternative interpretations in the sea. If you want to apologize, you know where to find me.

    Stan clicks Post Comment in a huff, opens a new tab, and heads over to GoComics

  23. “I like the stepladder one, but I think it suffers because the person is not obviously a child. It looks like a woman.”

    I see your point. But it doesn’t matter to me as the absurd abstract concept of a “ladder/human” relationship is so strange I can see the adult human having the role of a child to the adult ladder as just all the more strange and funny.

    (It’s interesting that that relationship was fine and even funny for me to say– But in the dog take the human for a hike, I actually had a harder time seeing the dog as a walk-leader and human as the walk-follower, although that is probably objectively more natural).

  24. All I’m saying is that the joke works perfectly fine without dragging in a weak analogy just to take away from the joke. But if you insist there must be a relationship, how about this? The step-ladder is smaller than a full grown ladder, therefore, the step-ladder is the child in this relationship, trying to convince the adult to buy (adopt) it by promising not to replace/interfere in any relationship with any past (she is looking in the ladder dept. after all) or current ladder. The fact the cliched quote works in both directions is part of its charm.

  25. Step child is child of spouse (or otherwise significant these days I suppose) – not an adopted child.

    So the ladder is saying that it does not want to replace her ladder, but wants its “parent” to marry her so it can be her step ladder.

    Of course though, many times “step” is not used when used talking “step” relatives. For example, my sister married a widow with a son. I don’t refer to the son as my step-nephew, any more than I refer to Robert’s nieces nieces as “Robert’s adopted nieces” I just include him with my other nephew and nieces as in “I have 2 nephews and 3 nieces” or I have 5 niblings”.

  26. There is also the “half-” relation, which is even more subject to Meryl’s observation that it is very often just not mentioned. I have a friend whose father remarried (after divorcing her mother), and had a few more children with the second wife. If you make the relationship a focus, say by asking “What is Laura’s relation to you?” she will respond with “Laura is my half-sister”. But in other contexts, when that is not the focus, she would just say “My sister Laura will be coming in to the city Thursday with a couple of her kids, they might meet me for lunch.” … And speaking of those kids, I don’t think the “half-” designation is “inherited”, even in principle. My friend would never, even if asked, identify Laura’s kids as “my half-niece” and “half-nephew” but always simply niece and nephew.

  27. “Step child is child of spouse (or otherwise significant these days I suppose) – not an adopted child.

    So the ladder is saying that it does not want to replace her ladder, but wants its “parent” to marry her so it can be her step ladder.”

    But why do you assume the ladder/human is a child/parent analogy and not the other way around?

  28. I think most of us assumed the ladder was the parent. That conversation isn’t one you’d expect from a step-child, and would be pretty sad if it was.

  29. Brian in STL, but to be fair ladder/human = parent/child is a rather weird and arguably incongruent one (how can an object being bought be dominant to the one buying, how can a single function device serve as a guardian to an adult human with autonomy).

    But, it’s just word-play. The fact that it was meaningless just made it all the more absurd and funny to me. And to others it may just be… a pun; no need for it to work logistically. But I can see throwing some people off.

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