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Saratoga Springs man finalist in New Yorker contest

Saratoga Springs man finalist in New Yorker contest

Zach Vogel, a Saratoga Springs resident, is a finalist in the current cartoon caption contest in The
Saratoga Springs man finalist in New Yorker contest
Saratoga Springs resident Zack Vogel, who hopes to make a name for himself as a gag writer in The New Yorker magazine, poses with sons Grady, on the left, and Max after this past summer's 'Firecracker 4' road race in Saratoga Springs.

Heard this one?

Guy walks into a single-panel cartoon. He’s six inches tall, and stands near giant sewing equipment.

An angry cat is also part of the scene, and the feline is ready to strike.

The guy holds a long sewing needle in his hands and says:

“I’m not a big cat person.”

Ha, ha, ha!

Zack Vogel can laugh at the line, because it’s his line. The 45-year-old Saratoga Springs resident wrote the sentence for the current cartoon caption contest in The New Yorker magazine.

The magazine has been running the gag for years, on its back page. Each week, editors choose a cartoon that has no caption and ask readers to supply a zinger. Editorial staffers choose three candidates, and a popular vote through the Internet determines the winner.

“I’ve entered the contest on and off during the past year; I’ve never been one of the finalists before,” Vogel said. “They get about 5,000 entries a week, so it’s a bit of a long shot to get in there.”

Vogel hopes the Capital Region can rally behind his joke. Online voting will close Sunday at 11:59 p.m. An e-mail note sent Tuesday to The New Yorker’s public relations department — asking permission to run the cartoon — was not immediately answered.

Vogel has real competition. Here are the two alternate lines the man says to the cat:

* “Think it over. I’m still the only one here who can use a can opener” — that’s from Marion Stein of New York, New York.

* “Kids, stay in the thimble” — that was submitted by Ross Darden of Fort Worth, Texas. A thimble the size of a wastebasket is included in the drawing.

Vogel, who has worked in finance, has been an adjunct professor at Skidmore College in past years and now coaches bicycle racing and instructs spinning classes at the YMCA, likes trying to harness witticisms for the New Yorker contest. He said he’s probably written between 15 and 20 one-liners.

Amateur comedy writers have come up with some regular riots for past cartoons. In one, a couple sees a giant rat sitting in one of their living room chairs, reading a newspaper. “I think we’re gonna need a bigger cat,” one says to another.

In another, three racing jockeys ride toy horses — horse heads on sticks — on a race track backstretch. “And they said my career was over after ‘The Godfather,’” says the lead horse.

A rich man riding in a stretch limousine drives by a caveman’s cave and yells “Invent a job!” to the primitive man inside.

If Vogel gets the most votes, there will be no financial windfall. And there will be no gold watch, no color TV, no toaster, no ice scraper for the car.

“The qualified winner of each Cartoon Caption Contest will have his or her caption and name printed in the magazine as the winning caption,” read the official rules. “No prize will be awarded in connection with the contest and publication of the winning caption does not have a retail value.”

Anyone 13 or over can vote. There’s one vote per person and one vote per e-mail address.

Vogel hopes people will take a look at the online contest. All three options are stacked, with Vogel’s effort the second choice.

“Pick the one in the middle,” he said.

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124, [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter. His blog is at www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/wilkin.

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