Are New Yorker Cartoons Too Easy To Write?

Comedian, Writer, and Producer
Josh Lieb is a bit underwhelmed by Bob Mankoff's prolific New Yorker cartooning.
  • Transcript


Question: Do you agree with Bob Mankoff that coming up with cartoon idea is hard?

Josh Lieb: Well first, let me address Bob Mankoff. I could write that every day. And so you tell bob Mankoff, no big deal. I have lots of cartoon ideas and I don’t see what he’s bitching about. Actually, not the New Yorker cartoonist, what they write one like once every three years or something, right?

Question: Mankoff has published 900 New Yorker cartoons over 30 years.

Josh Lieb: Big deal. That’s like; they’re one sentence apiece. Give me a break. Well, for one, I can’t draw at all, but I was trying to teach myself how to draw. I got a book. Because I was going to draw my own cartoons, but then I got lazy and then I really can’t draw. So, I have a friend, Tom Gamble out in LA who is a wonderful cartoonist and I sometimes send him suggestions for cartoons, which he never makes. But, I just had a great one. You tell Bob Mankoff there’s a man with a stomachache, he’s very unhappy, and his wife walks in with Al Capone, and he says, “You idiot, I told you to bring home Alka Seltzer.” That’s a prize-winning cartoon right there. I just thought of that one the other day. Similarly though, and in all seriousness, yeah, it’s that ability to do it everyday and it’s that ability to – it’s not just perseverance, it’s talent and it’s treating it like a job. Anytime you have a writer who says he’s waiting for inspiration and I say that’s not a writer. It is absolutely – it’s a job, it’s a career. You can not feel like writing, you can be dry as a bone and you have to sit down and start writing. You can’t tolerate something like writer’s block, especially in TV, but I suppose when you are writing a book at home you can give yourself a couple of days like that, but its being able to dredge it up every day and produce. It’s not just this romantic pure creation. It’s a job.

Recorded on: October 9, 2009. Interviewed by Paul Hoffman.