How To Write Badly, Well.

You know what London is missing? The New Yorker, unarguably the finest magazine in publication. And the worst thing about living over here is that you can’t realistically read The New Yorker without looking like a fool.

I love the New Yorker, but it does seem ridiculously pretentious to purchase it given that I don’t live in the city its generally concerned with. Everything about it, from the writing to the design, is pretty much perfect, and as a local high brow general interest magazine, it makes Time Out look like it was put together by monkeys (which, let’s face it, it probably is).

There are many fine things about The New Yorker – the elegant type face and layout, the beautifully designed and sometimes provocative covers, the brilliant criticism (Alex Ross on music, Anthony Lane on film) – but the bit I always turn to first is the last page, where they showcase their cartoon caption competition.

This is always a great read, and makes me furious with envy at the comical imagination and sophistication of so many of The New Yorker’s readers. However, the only thing that’s funnier than The New Yorker’s Caption Competition is the Anti-Caption Competition hosted by

The idea here, of course, is to provide the worst possible caption to the exact same cartoon printed in the New Yorker. As the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (which I’ve also written about here) proves, writing something that is deliberately bad is as much a talent as writing well. And it’s often a whole lot funnier.

I’m building up to making my first entry in to the competition, but, frankly, the other entries are so good its almost futile.


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