Roger Ebert and 'The New Yorker' cartoon caption contest


While film critics, industry members and fans continue their accolades of Roger Ebert after news of the film critic’s death, fans are also sharing an old blog post from The New Yorker with some interesting information about Ebert’s little-known passion for cartoon captions.

In a blog post written by The New Yorker‘s Bob Mankoff nearly one year ago, he points to Ebert’s penchant for entering many of the magazine’s cartoon caption contests. However, Ebert never won.

The losing streak seemed to cause Ebert some grief and he wrote on his Chicago Sun-Times blog in July 2009 that he would really like to win, at least once. Ebert wrote:

“I have entered the New Yorker’s cartoon caption contest almost weekly virtually since it began, and have never even been a finalist. Mark Twain advised: “Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for.” I have done more writing for free for the New Yorker in the last five years than for anybody in the previous 40 years.”

He went on to say: “just once I want to see one of my damn captions in the magazine that publishes the best cartoons in the world. Is that too much to ask?”

After hundreds of entries (at least 282 by Mankoff’s estimate), Ebert finally won the coveted prize: one of his captions was published. “Two thumbs up for you, Roger,” writes Mankoff.

The winning caption is pretty funny and you can see it, and some of Ebert’s better captions that didn’t make it into The New Yorker, on Mankoff’s blog.

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