I don't understand this New Yorker cartoon!
July 24, 2010 12:04 PM   Subscribe

On p. 69 of the July 26 New Yorker magazine, there is a cartoon showing a bride and groom at their wedding reception. They are saying to another couple, "Oh, we're just here for the party!" Can someone please explain the joke to me?
posted by wisekaren to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They're not there to get married (which is ostensibly the point of a wedding for the bride and groom), they're there for the party (which, in Western society, is what a lot of weddings prioritize).
posted by emilyd22222 at 12:07 PM on July 24, 2010

I believe the 'joke' is that they don't want to be at their own wedding, and don't really care about the bride and groom (i.e., themselves)--they just showed up for the drinking and partying. Yeah. Although it really comes off as insulting their guests instead.

It's the New Yorker. That about sums it up.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 12:12 PM on July 24, 2010 [4 favorites]

It's a Ziggy!

My interpretation is that it's party crashing ad absurdum. Like going to a gallery opening just to See and Be Seen (and drink free wine) instead of going there for a the art.
posted by griphus at 12:13 PM on July 24, 2010

It makes fun of strong social norms by suggesting an oblivious violation thereof.
posted by found missing at 12:22 PM on July 24, 2010

On the surface level: you would expect a bride and groom to care about the value of the wedding itself. One would expect a guest to be the one who would go to a wedding strictly for the open bar (been there!) without much care for the participants. The reversal of expectations creates humor, in theory.

On the commentary level: a common meme is that marriage is becoming worthless in today's society. Many feel that people aren't marrying for love, or for deep emotional connection, but instead are marrying because it is fashionable, expected, and glamorized by things like "bride wars". The cartoon seeks to highlight that by making it explicit. It hopes that the reader, through reading explicitly what is only known otherwise as a cultural byword, will realize how selfish and worthless this sort of partnering is.

Practically: the New Yorker doesn't have very good cartoons.
posted by codacorolla at 12:22 PM on July 24, 2010 [10 favorites]

I'm remembering a Jesse Thorn (mefi's own) phrase, "a spectacularly New Yorker non-joke." Seems appropriate.
posted by mollymayhem at 12:27 PM on July 24, 2010

codacorolla: "Practically: the New Yorker doesn't have very good cartoons."

The "are you growing that moustache to make me break up with you?" hip-couple one in the same issue is a masterstroke
posted by griphus at 12:28 PM on July 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Ah, now I get it. Not funny at all. Thanks, everyone!
posted by wisekaren at 12:29 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, I'd say that this guy has it pretty well figured out.
posted by stleric at 12:35 PM on July 24, 2010

I think that's the thing is that sometimes the New Yorker has good captions, but in almost no sense are they good cartoons. I can smirk at the mustache quip and have no idea what the cartoon looks like. In my opinion at any rate, perhaps I'm a drooling neanderthal boob. On the internet no one know you're a drooling neanderthal boob.
posted by codacorolla at 12:49 PM on July 24, 2010

It is the New Yorker: There is no joke.
posted by Justinian at 1:15 PM on July 24, 2010

I think it's playing on the notion that a lot of guests don't much care about the wedding itself, but rather are just there for the party. At this wedding, even the bride and groom agree.
posted by incessant at 1:23 PM on July 24, 2010

This couple puts such a low value on marriage (traditional values), and such a high value on partying (decadence), that they care more about the party than their own wedding day. That's it.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:35 PM on July 24, 2010

I generally love the New Yorker cartoons, - in every issue there are always one or two that'll keep me chuckling for hours or days (e.g. this week "Carol, check my appointment book..."). Part of the magic is often that you have to fill in a few blanks yourself to appreciate the punchline (that Slate guy's caption is a great example of this - I love it)
There was one this week though that stood out for me, glaringly as being completely baffling, but it wasn't the wedding one, which I think I got but was just, heh. I'm talking about "All the kids have noticed that Mom wears Russian Army boots." My immediate, and only, thought was that this was just what people mean when they say they don't 'get' the New Yorker cartoons. At least the wedding one made some sort of sense but unless I'm totally missing some reference, this cartoon is just random absurdity, and where's the fun in that?
posted by Flashman at 1:50 PM on July 24, 2010

> unless I'm totally missing some reference, this cartoon is just random absurdity

Well, the clear reference is the old insult "Your mother wears combat boots" or "Your mother wears Army boots," which dates back to the 1950s-1960s. However, having said that, the cartoon makes no sense and is completely unfunny, as far as I can tell.
posted by languagehat at 2:08 PM on July 24, 2010

I actually got my usual New Yorker cartoon smile when I read this. Haven't we all gone to weddings and met people at the reception who we didn't know and who turned out to be well dressed wedding crashers? This has happened to me a fair amount, for example when weddings are at churches and other members of the congregation decide to hang out for the reception. When asked how they know the bride and groom, that's what they say --"Oh, we're just here for the party!"

So it is rather amusing to think of a bride and groom who would be asked how they know themselves, as well as to imagine a bridge and groom who mostly did the wedding for the sake of the reception.
posted by bearwife at 3:15 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Isn't the Russian Army boot one making reference to the Russian spy ring? I thought the kid was saying everyone thinks his mom is a spy.
posted by donnagirl at 3:48 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I also meant to say that I think bearwife is right. If you look at the bride, her hand is up in a kind of "stop" gesture, and they're on a stage. It's as if someone just asked them to recount how they met, similar to the "how do you know them" question.
posted by donnagirl at 3:50 PM on July 24, 2010

So it is rather amusing to think of a bride and groom who would be asked how they know themselves, as well as to imagine a bridge and groom who mostly did the wedding for the sake of the reception.

Spot. On.

posted by L'OM at 5:32 PM on July 24, 2010

Mod note: Folks, let's not descend into outright New Yorker Cartoon Chat, please.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:49 PM on July 24, 2010

In a disconnected and shallow world, where true human connection is rare, the only people at a wedding who wouldn't be there "just for the party" are the bride and groom. Therefore, having the bride and groom say that introduces cognitive dissonance, and so you laugh.

But what do I know? I only read the New Yorker for the cartoons.
posted by davejay at 11:42 PM on July 24, 2010

The combat boots thing: "your mother wears combat boots" is one of the most random, pointless kid-to-kid insults I ever heard growing up, and I heard it a lot. Kids say it all the time, even though it's meaningless and is never true. Therefore, having a kid (who, like other kids, heard this all the time) actually have a mother who wears combat boots, and who is therefore taking these insults very seriously, is (again) cognitive dissonance. Most of the best cartoons in the New Yorker are like this.
posted by davejay at 11:45 PM on July 24, 2010

Here is some information - direct from the New Yorker editor responsible for cartoons - about why they aren't funnier.

And the blog posting I've cited includes a bonus link - to Daniel Radosh’s “anti-caption contest.” Much better captions there (in my opinion).
posted by WestCoaster at 3:12 PM on March 15, 2011

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