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Announcing The Rejection Collection Caption Contest Finalists

11/20/2006 04:20 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

OK, so the time has come for me to pick a winner in our little Rejection Collection Caption Contest. I apologize that it has taken me so long to calibrate the results, but I've been working frantically on an audio version of The Rejection Collection. It's essentially a deck of cartoon postcards that you flip through while listening to the captions read by Sir Ian McKellen, The Rock, and the creepy paranormal psychic lady from "Poltergeist." It's already got some Pulitzer buzz, so we're pretty excited.

Let me say right off the bat that this contest was hard -- probably more difficult than it should have been. (You can see the full set up and rules by clicking here.) We had over fifty submissions and nearly a dozen of them made sense. Very few managed to be actually funny and I blame myself for that. I have asked people to enter an aerobatics contest and gave them a plane that doesn't fly very well. So, it turned into a sort of crash landing contest. The captions I'm about to mention are the ones that, at least to me, managed to get the thing down in one piece.

In this post I'm going to give you my three finalists and then I'll pick a final winner later in the week. I'll put the cartoon image here, but you should really go back and read about the contest specifics or you'll be confused. Here's the image again for reference.

week cartoon wo words.jpg

The first finalist is someone who goes by the screen name "MA." They had the following three pieces of comedy gold:

The sign says: Who needs Bombs?

The banner says: Death to Amerika

The spoon is saying: "It says Made in China."

In this cartoon a man, (we'll assume he's representing the Al-Qaeda terrorists), is informing the world that they don't need bombs to wreak their evils. They can use jetliners or giant footwear instead. As in all random acts of terror, the violence strikes the intended targets, but also the innocent who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In this case it's a fork and spoon on a crepuscular stroll through an ambiguous, industrial landscape. The Spoon is noticing, in the last instant of his life, that the instrument of his imminent doom is made in China. The viewer is left wrestling with the question: should one blame the giant shoe or the giant foot inside the shoe?

The second finalist is "jimmyjack" who submitted:

The sign says: Muslim Extremists

The banner says: Christian Extremists

The spoon is saying: "Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, Here I am stuck in the middle with you."

Here we see the foot of a Christian Extremist Giant preparing to trample a random gathering of mismatched characters. The most prominent member of the group is a Muslim Extremist. It's unclear whether the giant's stride will reach him or not. Behind him, and in certain jeopardy, are the other three members of the group. One of them is Uncle Sam. He is struggling with the giant, but seems powerless to stop its crushing advance. Beside him, and next in line for stomping, is a fork and a spoon. The context implies that the utensils have unspecified but moderate religious views, and yet the two find themselves swept into the midst of a religious extremist conflict. The spoon, who is perhaps a bit sharper than his fork friend, sums up their plight with the words of a classic song from the seventies by the band, Stealer's Wheel.

And here's the third finalist, by "1pac":

The sign says: "I just blew up the Twin Towers, now I'm going to Disneyland."

The banner says: "Air Ladens"

The spoon says: "Corporate America always backs a winner."

This captionist has taken a couple of big American corporations to task for their involvement in bringing down The World Trade Center and also for squashing America and silverware. It seems that Disneyland has partnered with the terrorists for a post-game plug and Nike has signed the Bin Laden family to a sneaker deal, which is about to tread heavily upon everything we hold dear. The Fork and Spoon, like theater masks, are helplessly exposed in the center of it all. I believe the message is clear: Big Corporations are a constant crushing influence on our world and should be attacked whenever possible with wit. Either that, or it's saying something about the demise of American dinner theater.

So those are my final three finalists. I'll announce the winner in my next post. In the meantime, I look forward to entertaining opinions and rebuttals. In anticipation of the inevitable question, "Why not my caption?", I'll say this now and refrain from further specifics: I thought the rest of the entries failed in one or more of the following ways...

1. They didn't make enough sense.

2. They made sense, but didn't relate closely enough to the given visuals.

3. They involved bad puns.

4. They weren't original enough.

4. They were too preachy.

5. They had three lines that were mildly clever independently, but in combination failed to make any cohesive comedic idea.

6. They relied too heavily on potty talk.

That's my assessment anyway. This was a tough challenge and comedy is a subjective thing, so I could be wrong, but probably not. I'm a professional.