June 19th, 2016

ID Cartoon Caption Contest

The New Yorker magazine is justifiably famous for its fine writing, with its contributors a veritable Who’s Who of famous authors and journalists of the past century. Truman Capote, Ann Beattie, J.D. Salinger, John Cheever, John Updike, Dorothy Parker, E.B. White, Philip Roth, Alice Munro, John Hersey, Malcolm Gladwell, Roger Angell, James Thurber … you get the idea.

But for many (OK, I admit it, often for me), it’s mostly just a print vessel for the cartoons. These offer some of the most brilliant commentaries on the world you will find anywhere — witty, profound, whimsical, silly — and my web browser has this link bookmarked in case I’m feeling glum.

The magazine also has a Cartoon Caption Contest, in which readers contribute captions for a drawing that changes weekly. I’ve entered the contest dozens of times, and have won the same number of times as I’ve won Wimbledon.

Oh well. You might think this brilliant entry could have done the trick:

"I need the miles."

                                   “I need the miles.”

I share this low success rate with my sister Anne, who in my unbiased opinion should have won with this one:

"You were right -- I'm STILL not free."

                             “You were right — I’m STILL not free.”

Admittedly motivated by our failure, we hereby offer our own ID Cartoon Caption Contest. The drawing is Anne’s (I’ve featured her art before), and it was inspired by a certain white coat controversy.

Submit your caption either in the comments section, to my Twitter feed, or if you want to keep it secret, email me at id.caption@yahoo.com.

We’ll judge them on funniness using only the most highly objective and scientific criteria. In addition to widespread fame, the winner will receive a free lifelong subscription to this blog.

Here’s the drawing — have at it:


125 Responses to “ID Cartoon Caption Contest”

  1. A pediatrician says:

    “He’s taken the Hygiene Hypothesis too far.”

  2. Jefferson H Dickey says:

    “Are you finally ready to give up on home visits?”

  3. Jeanne says:

    “Dr Petri, I presume?”

  4. Jeanne says:


    Fabulous idea. I expect you’ll have to make this a regular feature of your already terrific blog. I once submitted a caption to the New Yorker’s caption contest–this was several years ago, now–but didn’t do so quickly enough after inspiration struck. The winning caption was, verbatim, what I had submitted.


  5. Someone says:

    “Don’t worry, it’s still sensitive to colistin…”

  6. Scott says:

    “Let this be a lesson to you: see what happens if you actually touch a patient!”

    • Mimi Breed says:

      Love this one…reminds me of the medical director of my mother’s nursing home, who never did. Touch a patient, that is. Was left to me to find the baseball-sized abdominal tumor.

  7. Don Branam says:

    “Perhaps you should have chosen some other line of work, Dr. Pig-Pen.”

  8. A family med doc says:

    “I don’t waste time with anything not required by MOC.”


    “Don’t worry guys, I passed my hand-hygiene MOC module.”

  9. Max Voysey says:

    “He does the fecal transplants – but I think he’s got just a little too much community spirit for my comfort.”

  10. a reader says:

    When did you join “Doctors Without Detergent”?

  11. A Recently Graduated Resident says:

    “Don’t worry, I’m clean below the wrists…”

  12. Jeff says:

    “Since I’m next to him I must be a Satanist.”

  13. Betsy Phillips says:

    “My kid ate all the detergent pods.”

  14. Chris Morren says:

    Bad night in the ED?

  15. Adam Lake says:

    Your microbiome is showing

  16. JT says:

    Congratulations! You have completed your fellowship successfully and can now join the faculty.

  17. Kevin says:

    Looks like he got rid of his newbie look…

  18. “This, as you may gather, is our xenodiagnostician”

  19. Chris says:

    What do you mean? I use an “all-natural” detergent.

  20. Angela says:

    PigPen realizing his lifelong dream- walking ID lab.

  21. Rahul says:

    “Don’t worry! The stains aren’t blood.”

  22. Parish00 says:

    Based on preliminary studies, a thorough examination by this intern is more effective than oral vancomycin.

  23. Bryan Burke says:

    “I bet Charlie Brown never thought Pig-Pen would become a doctor.”

  24. Vernon Swygert says:

    You wreak, Ugh!

  25. Rachel Rivera says:

    Plate rounds are cancelled.

  26. Rebecca Ludwig says:

    “What do you think? Is he compost mentis or not?”

  27. Ted Butler says:

    Dr Colon, are you still doing the fecal transplants via colonoscope?
    Why not try capsules to swallow?

  28. James A. Avery says:

    He’s the junior member of our faculty. I guess stuff does roll downhill …

  29. Artie Bootle says:

    Great idea, Paul. I always thought the ‘winning’ contest captions the lamest in the entire magazine. I’ll keep an eye on this, and in this go-round vote for Rebecca Ludwig.

  30. Cathie M Currie says:


  31. Loretta S says:

    At least he has his tie tucked-in.

  32. Monica Lange says:

    Now THAT is some serious white coat syndrome !

  33. Jim Clark says:

    “I hear his smile is also infectious.”

  34. Emily says:

    Jon, I’ll take isolation procedures for the block…

  35. Craig says:

    ID consultant loves this coat, he sees all my patients

  36. Peter Leadley says:

    “Damn–it looks like the Medicare reimbursement for ID consults has been cut again!!”

  37. Cagal says:

    New version of “bugs” bunny

  38. kimberly hartgrove says:

    Taking your work home with you again?

  39. dunstan mascarenhas says:

    sorry guys this was my fourth Manual Disimpaction this week and i havent had a chance to do laundry

  40. Kate says:

    “It worked for Barry Marshall”

  41. Alexander Postalian says:

    “Maybe the tie touching the patient is not the problem”

  42. Emu says:

    His ever growing interest in urology has reached stinky levels.

  43. Dwight Ferris says:

    Flint MI water I presume…

  44. Dr Di says:

    “An avant-garde choice for this year’s Semmelweis Prize”

  45. RO Cannon says:

    Paul, here at the Brigham we strive for stealth contagion

  46. Fernanda says:

    “No worries, there´s still is no solid evidence it may transmit anything”

  47. Ravi Vemuri says:

    Due to budgetary issues FMT has been curtailed, Smithy here has decided to share his pristine microbiome with our most severely affected CDI patients.

  48. Krispin says:

    KPC is the new black

  49. Margaret A Conte says:

    Sorry, I have no clean water in the house. I have to chlorinate my well to clear it of those pesky iron-loving bacteria…

  50. Susie says:

    Should we consider to introduce breaks into residents’ schedules?

HIV Information: Author Paul Sax, M.D.

Paul E. Sax, MD

Contributing Editor

NEJM Journal Watch
Infectious Diseases

Biography | Disclosures | Summaries

Learn more about HIV and ID Observations.