Max:  With the Knicks and the Nets out of the NBA playoffs, this week’s cover suggests it’s time for New Yorkers to hit the courts.

Simon:  In Washington, they’ll be hitting the courts as well – though the uniforms will look more like judicial robes as the Russian probe deepens.



1 of 15: “Fit for a King” by Kaamran Hafeez

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Simon:  Our first cartoon is by Kaamran Hafeez, and it features a king in splendid isolation in the airplane‘s ruling class. I like the drawing very much. What did you think, Max?

Max:  The drawing was well-realized and delivered one of the best airline jokes I’ve seen in a long time. It also opens up imagining an airplane meal fit for a king, including large animals turning on spits.

Simon:  This is a fairly typical New Yorker cartoon, whereby the cartoonist takes a common concept, such as first-class seating on an airline, and tweaks it, in this case to create the ruling class gag. It’s a little mechanical in the way that the gag was arrived at. I like the drawing very much, but I’m less fond of the gag than you are. I give this a 3.

Max:  I especially like the rows of steerage smashed in behind His Highness. Of course, we’re also reminded of a certain Presidential candidate who barnstormed the country in gold-encrusted splendor in a custom 737. I give this one a 5.

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2 of 15: “Old Dogs, New Tricks” by Harry Bliss

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Max:  Mr. Bliss brings us a composition featuring a couple of old friends in Central Park proposing a round of drug experimentation. Simon, what did you think of these codgers contemplating a walk on the wild side?

Simon:  Clearly they’re not talking about drugs on the Medicaid plan. This is a funny gag and well-executed as usual by Harry Bliss. It’s kind of cute in a way, but has some bite to it as well. I give this one a solid 4.

Max:  I give it up 4 as well. A casting director might do well to hire Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon for the movie version.

Simon:  If I need to cast deceased movie stars in new movies, then you’ll be the casting director.

Max:  It’s amazing what you can do in postproduction these days.

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3 of 15: “Training Day” by Tom Chitty

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Simon:  Next up is a Tom Chitty cartoon featuring an impersonal trainer. This is another cartoon similar to the first one, in the sense that a common concept, the personal trainer in this case, is twisted to create a new breed of trainer, the impersonal trainer.

Max:  The gag worked well and pivoted on the word “possibly” as in “You can, or possibly cannot, do this!” I thought the caption phrasing was original.

Simon:  I wasn’t crazy about that phrase because it suggests uncertainty or ambiguity more than impersonality. I understand what he’s getting at, but I thought the phrasing could be better. On the other hand, the look of this cartoon was good, given that I’m often critical of Tom Chitty’s artwork.

Max:  The artwork was effective and the the blank look on the woman’s face made her the appropriate object of “whatshisname”. I give this a 4.

Simon:  Ah, I just noticed that he uses “whatshisname” rather than “whatshername”, even though the other person is clearly a woman. I give this a 3.

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4 of 15: “Inducing Guilt” by Carolita Johnson

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Max:  We have a cartoon from Carolita Johnson showing a woman who has clearly perfected a facial expression to guilt someone into giving up their subway seat.

Simon:  It’s a pretty good gag, although the line is a bit long. Did it bother you at all that the child looks more like a doll than a person?

Max:  I looked at that as well because the small figure does have doll-like dimensions. However, I think it works because you might not want an adorable child pulling attention away from the conversation between the women.

Simon:  Strange, because both adult women are drawn very well, but that child looks too much like a toy. Anyway, the gag is pretty solid. I give it a 3.

Max:  “Balefully” is an inspired word choice. It captures the same look my wife developed when she was pregnant. I give this one a 4.

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5 of 15: “Instant Nostalgia” by Bruce Eric Kaplan

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Simon:  Next is a Bruce Eric Kaplan cartoon with a political angle. It reminded me a little of the  Voltaire quote, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” In this case, I think that Trump is the enemy of America,or perhaps a free press is the enemy, depending on your perspective.

Max:  Uh-oh, Simon, comments like that can get us waterboarded! Regardless, this cartoon delivers trenchant commentary on the contradiction of Trump‘s impossible promises and the near constant turmoil roiling his administration.

Simon:  That people remember the time before Trump as being nice is strange and funny as well. I thought this was strong topical cartoon by BEK, and I give it a 4.

Max:  I think it’s okay, but an easy target in the current environment. I give this one of 3.

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6 of 15: “Hercule! Shhhh!” by Kim Warp

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Max:  Ms. Warp is next with a golfing cartoon that mixes murder and mystery with Hercule Poirot. It exploits the classic golf annoyance of someone talking while another person attempts a knee-knocking putt. Did you like this one, Simon?

Simon:  It combines a couple of elements found in New Yorker cartoons, namely the golf scenario and the anachronism element. Again, that just seems like the cartoonist put a few concepts into the comedy cliché machine grinder and came up with the gag.

Max:  It’s funny that one of our law enforcement heroes is under threat of great bodily harm in such a pastoral setting. I think the humor of this cartoon will depend on how enamored one is with both golf and the good detective. I’m not a fan of either Monsieur Poirot or golf, and so I give this one a 3.

Simon:  Well the only time I set foot on a golf course was when I was a groundskeeper in high school. Regardless, I give this a 2.

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7 of 15: “Say It Again” by Jason Adam Katzenstein

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Simon:  Next up is a Jason Adam Katzenstein cartoon featuring a parrot in bed repeating the same phrase sometimes heard by annoying lovers. I thought it was quite a funny gag.

Max:  In fact, this same theme was addressed in the pages of The New Yorker several weeks ago. I thought this version was superior, especially the repeated squawks of the bedded bird brain.

Simon:  The whole idea of a parrot in bed talking on the phone is pretty funny, and the way it‘s drawn is ridiculous in itself – so ridiculous that it made me smile. I give this one a low 5.

Max:  For me, the silliness of the parrot, with the endlessly repeated gag, bumped this cartoon up to a 4.

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8 of 15: “Circus Tricks” by Tom Toro

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Max:  Mr. Toro has produced a rather astonishing drawing of an office worker attempting to impress his boss with circus tricks.

Simon:  Yes, a great drawing featuring a lot of exaggerated and impossible tricks, but the gag itself just relies on exaggeration.

Max:  But, Simon, he’s juggling fire and running chain saws on a unicycle while dressed in a suit! It’s a fun gag that casts aspersions on the boss who clearly prefers feats of legerdemain that involve a general ledger. I give this one a 5.

Simon:  It’s a little strange that a boss would be asking so forthrightly and publicly for an accounting trick, so the logic bothers me a bit. Like I said, this is just exaggeration, though the drawing is well done. I’m going in the opposite direction from you and give this a 2.

Max:  We’re probably entering an era where dubious accounting practices will be perfectly acceptable and bald-faced mendacity the new norm.

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9 of 15: “Tea for Three” by Roz Chast

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Simon:  Once again Roz Chast follows her “rule of three”; here they are at the last stop on a herbal tea crawl. It’s a nice take on understated New Yorkers having a night out on the town in a mild way.

Max:  Interestingly, the first line by the fellow on the left was the funniest. In the normal “rule of three”, one expects the best line delivered last. I thought it was just so-so, but Ms. Chast does find an unusual slant on the old bar crawl, so I give it a 3.

Simon:  I thought that it was done in reverse because the second and third comments are really just an affirmation of the first comment. I thought was funnier than you, and I give it a 4.

Max:  An herbal tea crawl is the very definition of entropy – a night that ends with a whimper instead of a bang.

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10 of 15: “Husbands on Display” by Edward Steed

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Max:  Mr. Steed brings us an utterly depraved and hilarious cartoon about selecting husbands, though it seems a bit premature for this elementary school class. The abominable teacher could only come out of Mr. Steed’s fevered imagination.

Simon:  These three types of husbands seemed to be equally repulsive in their own special ways. The whole concept is bizarre and the main characters are deviant and horrible in every respect. I give it a 5 as well. I couldn’t even attempt to identify these three husband types.

Max:  I know, it reminded me of poor Jodie Foster walking past one deranged prisoner after another in “Silence of the Lambs”. This cartoon is as delicious as it is sick, and I give it a 5.

Simon:  I’ve been all three types of husbands. Which type are you, Max?

Max:  Door number 4?

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11 of 15: “Tuckered Out Horses” by Michael Maslin

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Simon:  Next up is a very funny Michael Maslin cartoon featuring horses that finally got to have a seat. I think this is the second Old West cartoon that we’ve seen recently in The New Yorker from Mr. Maslin. I like how the cowpokes are wandering in the street oblivious to their horses taking a little siesta.

Max:  Yes, this cartoon is utterly charming. I like the way the horse on the left has splayed his tail out in the dirt and kicked his legs forward – the very essence of a slacker on his couch.

Simon:  It’s a solid 5, no question about it.

Max:  I believe the hombre walking towards us with the giant 10-gallon hat probably has room enough for a 5-gallon aquarium as well. It’s a delightful scene, I give this one a 5 as well. And now this from the Mystery New Yorker Cartoonist:

Mystery New Yorker Cartoonist:  There were three cartoons in the new issue that were quite clever: Parrot in Bed, Auto Correct Spelling Bee and Ruling Class (although this cartoon wasn’t fully realized visually). And Bruce Eric Kaplan’s line was good. But there was one cartoon trumping the others, that made me laugh out loud–it’s simple, line’s funny and the drawing is funny. I give this Maslin cartoon a 5.

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12 of 15: “Spelling App” by Drew Dernavich

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Max:  Here’s a clever cartoon from Mr. Dernavich that imagines a spelling bee augmented with an “AutoCorrect” feature. Might I also mention how infrequently we encounter the German term “schadenfreude” in a single panel comic? What did you think, Simon?

Simon:  I thought it was quite clever. And I like the blank expression on the child’s face. The only thing that bothered me a little was that enormous title above the cartoon.

Max:  It seemed like the correct visual order of things: a strong title, then the quake-kneed child below, and finally the caption with the autocorrect app correctly spelling an impossible German word no matter what letters the poor girl croaked out.

Simon:  I yes, I agree with you, and I give this a high 4.

Max:  I’m right there with you, though auto-corrected to a 5, a very clever cartoon.

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13 of 15: “DIY Creation” by Joe Dator

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Simon:  Here’s a Joe Dator effort with the cartoon cliché of Adam and Eve. I thought this was a cartoonist’s delight, in that you have animals that are creatively though not intelligently designed.

Max:  My favorite of the three animals had a fish body, myna bird head, and five – count ’em, five – cloven hoofed legs.

Simon:  Yes, it’s a visual delight. I thought the gag was an imaginative and novel take on a very old theme, the Garden of Eden. I’m going all the way up to 5 on this.

Max:  I agree with you this cartoon turns the Garden of Eden cliché inside out, I give it a 5 as well.

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14 of 15: “Enlightened Response” by Benjamin Schwartz

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Max:  Dr. Schwartz reveals to us a cartoon in which the sensei advises young grasshopper that it’s the journey one plugs into the GPS, not the destination.

Simon:  It’s a clever take on the concept of a spiritual journey rather than an actual journey. The monk‘s head and face are little weird looking to me. Did that bother you at all, Max?

Max:  No, I think it enhanced his ethereal vibe. The caption works well, although you only hear people utter that phrase ironically anymore. I give it a 4.

Simon:  I agree, it’s a funny cartoon and well drawn. I give a 4 as well.

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15 of 15: “Valued Employee” by David Sipress

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Simon:  Our final cartoon is by David Sipress, and it features an unusual job applicant, a billionaire. I also note a caricature of our President on the wall, which underscores the gag line.

Max:  Right, and one can’t miss the Washington Monument and Congress through the window. Note how the flag looks strangely like a necktie, rounding out the picture of doors wide open for tycoons in the new administration.

Simon:  Yes, yet one more bluntly political cartoon in The New Yorker, which is becoming more common as we careen into month five of the Trump presidential watch. A little bit too on the nose for me, but it’s funny. I give it a 3.

Max:  Well, I reckon that Mr. Sipress is putting his political studies at Harvard to good use–a 4 from me.

Simon:  I wonder how many more Trump cartoons we’ll see given the uncertain future of this administration. They better not accept cartoons too far in advance!

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