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The April Issue of The Bob Is In Your Inbox
Starring Bob Costas, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jesus, Not Necessarily In the Order.
Happy Easter. I wanted to thank Misercordia University for having me speak at their school last month and share with them what others have taught me. It’s a beautiful school and sorry I made fun of your scary school logo.
My latest cover for Polity, The Journal of the Northeastern Political Science Association. That’s right, I’m running with a pretty high-brow crowd now.
The following is an excerpt from my gavel to gavel coverage of the Gwyneth Paltrow ski crash case. This appeared in Two Fifty One magazine, a sister publication of The American Bystander.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Ski Case Primer
It’s a classic He Says/She Says. Terry Sanderson, a retired optometrist, says the Oscar-winning actress didn’t see where she was going and skied into him. Paltrow claims it was Sanderson who hit her. Each accuse the other of being uphill, skiing downhill––but one of them is acting.
Everyone has weird names, is very photogenic, and is strange. (Sanderson’s daughter testified that he used to drive while reading books.). Sanderson is suing for $300K. Paltrow is asking for $1.
Two points to keep in mind:
1) It is very easy to ski into someone else. After hitting the Bunny Hill at Moosic Mountain in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania over the weekend, I realized this is a sport you have to assume you are going to ski into someone or get plowed into every time you take to the slopes. I understand the optometrist’s injuries were serious, but he took those risks when he went skiing as every person does.
2) In the OJ case what worked was a catch-phrase. “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.” That’s what Gwyneth needs. Everyone, especially jurors, love that. So just spit-balling here, what rhymes with acquit? I think you’ll agree we’re close:
DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer, nor do I ski. I have not seen any of Gwyneth Paltrow’s movies, not even parts of The Avengers.
I take pride in selling any cartoon I do, even reaching out to bottom of the barrel markets to do so (some of these markets are found through Gag Recap). Here was the response from one that pays $10 a cartoon:
Thanks for this 'toon.
You have not asked for my advice, but let me offer some regardless -- a cartoon needs to be really, really obvious with its gag.
Your average reader or viewer will not take the time I did to figure out your humor.
Jim Naseum,* Editor
Outdoor Maine magazine**
* changed name
** this is very close to the real name
Well, I wrote him back and I did thank him for what he thought was a favor. He didn’t mean it as an insult. As for the cartoon, I don’t want to share that because that is not the point I wanted to make (and have people argue it’s merits or shortcomings—it was a great cartoon if you must know).
The point is, is there’s a whole cartoon universe that my cartoon buddy and I talk about that is seeing cartoons much different and provide a market for these old-timers (and yes, I realize I’m officially an old-timer—my cartoons make references that get blank stares). No, there’s another level of old-timer, where the cartoons are very obvious and the characters are drawn with big noses and big heads. The cartoons are obvious—one would say blatant. And this, interestingly, comes back to why the New Yorker, initially, earned its reputation for being special. Other cartoon editors, for the most part, were so literal and could not see the genius of good cartoon that wasn’t totally laid out for the viewer. They underestimated the intelligence of their readers, and sometimes still do. Excellent cartoon editors from other magazines included the late Michelle Urry (Playboy)*, Pamela Budz (Barron’s) and Charles Preston & Linda Wolf (Wall St. Journal).
*Hugh Hefner picked the cartoons with Michelle
(By the way, at Q & A’s I always hear the same three things. First, a pronouncement of what they think of the current New Yorker cartoons—and there’s no real question. These are people who normally don’t post comments online because they are blocked and wait for book event Q & As. Next, where do I get my ideas and announcing to the crowd they plan to be a New Yorker cartoonist now that they’re retired. And then I am often asked when are women going to be welcome in the cartoon field. As you can see above, almost all my editors have been women. From Parade to Harvard’s Business Review to all seven of my publishing houses, I have not had many male bosses. I have enjoyed working for women and I have helped and hired many female cartoonists and writers as an editor and art director myself.)
Back to my own shortcomings and for those keeping score at home, I was just informed by Hoard's Dairyman that my services would not be required. So now the diary people don’t think I’m funny. I will search udder places and moo on.
Feel free to disagree or share here, anonymously or not, if you wish.
Three Questions. This month’s guest is Ken Levine, the accomplished Emmy winning writer/director/producer/sports announcer, who worked on M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier, The Simpsons and many other major shows. He adds to his resume now, New Yorker cartoonist. I religiously listen to his fantastic podcast, Hollywood & Levine. Listen there for longer answers to his views on comedy–-we kept the following as brief as possible as I’m trying to keep things moving here.
Bob Eckstein: Are you getting funnier?
Ken Levine: Absolutely. 40 years of learning from weekly studio audiences will do that.
BE: Many pros feel that social media and other outlets drown out their work. It is like everyone is a comic or cartoonist. Is this a good thing and has it made you better?
KL: There is funny and there is “professional” funny. I don’t give social media comedy a thought. To be “professional” funny you don’t settle for jokes that anyone can make.
BE: What is the best tip you can give someone who is trying to get funnier?
KL: Study the masters. Learn the tropes. Become a student of comedy. Then you can put your own unique spin on it.
BE: What was the last time you laughed hard?
KL: Tuesday night in improv class.
BE: Who do you think is the funniest person in the world at this time?
KL: Mel Brooks
I will promote other cartoon things each issue, so send me your info for a plug.
Curated Cartoons is a new business that sells New Yorker cartoon originals from the most legendary names in the business. It’s run by caption queen Beth Lawler, who is host, along with Vin Coca, Paul Nesja of The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest Podcast, yep, our competition over at The Cartoon Pad.
Cartoonist Pat Byrnes runs The Drawing Board, help businesses think like cartoonists thru workshops and meetings.
Jane Mattimoe runs the interesting A Case For Pencils where she asks New Yorker cartoonists about their art supplies and cartooning process.
From stand-up, cartoonist and President of the National Cartoonist Society, Jason Chatfield, a new hilarious book out called You're not a real parent until..., perfect for Father’s Day. He also has a thoughtful and insightful newsletter called, New York Cartoons.
With Everything Going On In My Life, the Last Thing I Need Right Now Is Bob Costas Telling Me Why Baseball Will Be Ruined By the New Rules
First, let me make one thing clear. I don’t disagree with anything Mr. Costas has to say on the new baseball rules nor do I even have any idea what his views are. As far as I can see, surprisingly, he has made no public announcements on the subject in the past month or two. I certainly don’t have the energy to speculate on what his thoughts are except to say they will be thorough and earnest…harkening back to the “good ol’ days” when baseball was timeless and the most important thing in the world. And no doubt, exhausting and insufferable.
My point is I’m just not emotionally equipped, at this time, for one of his eloquent diatribes “against the injustices of changing the perfect sport.” Perhaps later, but for now I already know Bob Costas is going to be inordinately concerned about how these rule changes will affect the pace of the game. Seemingly as oblivious as I am in making my point in this laborious, tedious manner as to what makes for an interesting read, only Bob Costas has the skills and verbal dexterity to create a two-hour, one-way argument that ironically makes the case that the deliberate nature of a 200 plus minute contest between two teams are 200 plus minutes for a father and son to bond at the ballpark. This assessment of his is always just a painful reminder that for many of us, we have no such memories. I never went to the ballpark with my dad. Neither of us has even ever seen Field of Dreams. My father worked under cars. Our front yard was littered with broken automobiles up on cinder blocks. Sports were not a part of our life and, somehow, we managed to get by without the pontifications of Mr. Bob Costas. We went to Jack in the Box.
It’s hard enough to worry about whether we, as a nation, are compromising the integrity of the national pastime by nudging pitchers to take less time in between pitches or increasing the size of the bases to couch cushions, especially when I am dealing with a small claims case with a woman I met in Starbucks who wants back rent because I crashed at her place for two months or that my license is revoked for outstanding driving tickets and without it I don’t have an official I.D. and can’t fly to the Scottish Writers Conference in May.
Granted, I have limited bandwidth. Whatever it is you want to say about these new baseball rules, I agree with…as long as I don’t have to hear about it. Let foul balls caught by fans count as outs. Make players wear old-timey knickers and funny vintage baseball caps. Bring the outfield fences in. Take them out. I don’t care. I have a strange rash on my ass and this morning, blood in my urine.
In closing, Mr. Costas, I sincerely hope you are well. I do hope you find some peace with the changes made to the sport you are so obviously passionate about. And most importantly, I hope in some way this small OpEd makes its way to you and convinces you not to tape a 2–hour segment on how the new rules this baseball season is the collapse of modern civilization as we know it. We know.
The opinions expressed in this editorial are without the written consent of Major League Baseball and are strictly prohibited.
Drum roll…this issue The Felix goes to Sarah Morrissette.
More of Sarah’s work can be seen at her website HERE. Be sure to check out her beautiful illustrations, too. The cartoonist recently appeared on my podcast The Cartoon Pad and can be heard HERE. That was only a coincidence, as I had already loved this cartoon before she agreed to come on.
The Bob is published the first Monday morning of the month.