A New Caption That Works for Every New Yorker Cartoon

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

In 2006, a blogger named Charles Lavoie argued that every New Yorker cartoon—from bears-waiting-in-an-elevator to two-old-businessmen-playing-with-dolls—could be aptly captioned “Christ, what an asshole!” Lavoie was correct: They totally could. He documented the rewritten cartoons on his blog for many years.

Sometime later, the artist Cory Arcangel suggested a different universal caption: “What a misunderstanding!” He, too, preserved re-captioned cartoons on a blog, itself titled “What a misunderstanding!”

Heretofore, science has discovered only these two universal New Yorker cartoon captions. But now it has supplied us with a third. This afternoon, the designer Frank Chimero proposed a new addition:

Others are joining in:

It even works for a classic:

You’re a hero, Frank. I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.