CSotD: Complaint Department Humor

Let’s start with our latest and, one hopes, last Cruella update. As I was going through cartoons yesterday at about 4 am here and 9 am in London, I came across this Morten Morland panel with Home Secretary Suella Braverman hanging like the Sword of Damocles over the head of PM Rishi Sunak.

I appreciated the double meaning, that she was a political hazard to his government and was, as he says, hanging by a thread, but I felt I’d spent enough time on her and wanted to focus on American politics instead. So I let it go by.

Then, when I’d filed at 9 (2 pm in London) and was on my way to the dog park, I heard on the radio that he’d fired her.

By afternoon here, the cartoons about her dismissal were all over the Intertubes, but Morland gets the prize for having called it before it happened.

Nicely done!

Speaking of Tory politicians who hate refugees, the first printing of The Great British Colouring Book has been distributed to refugee centers to welcome children to Britain and help them learn about their new home. The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation took up the idea after another of Sunak’s hatemongers had ordered cheerful cartoons painted over on the walls of a refugee center because they were “too welcoming.”

The fellow holding it up is Clive Goddard, one of the cartoonists who contributed to the project, and, as it happens, someone who just suffered a most ghastly blow to his own business plan.

The second printing should be out in early December and sales to the public then will help fund further printings and free distribution to the kids for whom it was made. I’ll let you know.

Let’s stay in Britain for this Matt cartoon, which certainly could be set in the US as well. The housing crunch appears to be universal: Australian cartoonists have also been talking about high rents and a situation where nobody who doesn’t have a house to sell can possibly raise the money to buy one.

Complaining, mind you, is also a universal phenomenon. When I lived in Colorado Springs, people who bought homes near the airport and the Air Force base would complain about the noise of the planes.

Apparently they hadn’t anticipated the problem when they bought a house on Jet Wing Drive.

Over at Crabgrass (AMC), Miles has, as you see, become wise to Thanksgiving and isn’t having any.

The flood of people talking about the Thanksgiving myth every November makes it hard not to know that the meal upon which the holiday is based was just a normal harvest celebration and barely remarked upon at the time, or that relations between the Pilgrims and the locals went to Hell in a handbasket fairly soon thereafter.

It’s important, though, to realize that the myth got a major boost during the Gilded Age, promoted as a message of how we welcome newcomers. America was recruiting workers from Europe as we ramped up our factories and tried to recoup investments on railroad lines out West by planting farmers there.

Those days are over, and have been for a long time. I used to use this 1994 David Horsey cartoon in my presentation on editorial cartooning to high school juniors and seniors and it always got a major laugh. I did explain the whole recruiting aspect of the holiday’s history, but I didn’t have to point out the selfish attitude Horsey satirizes.

Speaking of the Gilded Age, I note that, while the commoners are complaining that the holiday season comes on too strong and too early, the big box plutocrats have decided that “Black Friday” is not just the Friday after Thanksgiving anymore but is a month-long promotion that began right after Halloween.

They’re desperate, and, with unemployment at 3.9%, not all those fatcats can find compliant minions to work on the actual holiday.

There’s something to be thankful for!

You would think that employers’ desperation to find workers would have made this fellow in Pardon My Planet (KFS) extinct, but I doubt it.

A lot of people are either retiring early or walking out of bad situations into better ones, which is not solely an element of the unemployment rate but also of the impact of the pandemic on business as usual.

But there are plenty of people who seemingly hold onto jobs for the pleasure of complaining about them.

It’s not just jobs. I used to overhear women in the office complaining about their husbands, and, as a divorced guy, I wondered why they didn’t either pull the rip cord on the marriage or at least show a little class in not putting the guy down behind his back.

I think it’s more common among women, though guys sometimes do it. But admitting you screwed up is something a lot of men don’t like to do.

Speaking of gender-specific tendencies, I’m puzzled by this Tom Chitty New Yorker cartoon, unless he’s playing with a sex-role-reversal gag.

In the universe where I live, men generally eat more than women, while women are more apt to obsess over body-awareness and try not to indulge in fat-laden foods like french fries.

Not only is the expression, “I’ll just have some of yours” more regularly attributed to women, but refusing to let your date have a couple of fries seems more churlish than humorous.

The cartoon thus triggers memories of first dates that never became second dates, but also some pleasant memories, since our college town had mostly Italian restaurants.

“Okay if I have garlic bread?” was a leading question, and “I’ll have some of yours” was a far better response than, “Go right ahead.”

F Minus (AMS) echoes my way of dealing with food. I’m a pretty good cook, but living alone means a lot of leftovers.

Like the woman in the cartoon, I can’t throw them out until they’ve either begun to stink or have grown a furry blue-green coating, though sometimes I freeze them until they’ve picked up enough crystals to justify tossing them away. But that takes longer.

I like that Dark Side of the Horse (AMS) never explains his gags. If you get it, you’ve already laughed. If you’re puzzled, click here. And then here.

Here’s something groovy for Cruella:

7 thoughts on “CSotD: Complaint Department Humor

  1. I laughed at the “199 homes” gag because that happened a lot as our neighborhood was rebuilt after our 2017 wildfire. Ours was one of the first to go up, and every house that sprang up around us was a fresh eyesore and insult, even though they looked a lot like the houses that’d been in the same places before. We have a friend who actually moved out of her rebuilt house because she was so offended by the house that later went up behind her backyard. Sometimes a cartoon is good because distills a universal thing in a clear new way, and I think Matt did.

    Long ago I had a job I didn’t always like, although I did seem to like complaining about it. One day Karen asked, “What are you going to do about it?” Pardon me? “What are you doing to either make this job better or find a new one?” Uh……. Changed my whole outlook on work and life. I won’t say I never complain, but “What are you going to do about it?” snaps me into either acceptance or action. It’s a good question.

    Stan Kelly is an American hero, and I once had the pleasure of telling his editor, Ward Sutton, so. Very smart cartooning. I’ve stopped being amazed by how many people take him or similar work (Colbert’s right-wing character, Archie Bunker, the Onion in general) at face value, but I’m always still dismayed.

    1. Yeah, the fact that so many can’t tell the difference between right-wing politics and a satire of right-ring politics says a lot.

    2. “I’ve stopped being amazed by how many people take him or similar work (Colbert’s right-wing character, Archie Bunker, the Onion in general) at face value, but I’m always still dismayed.”

      oh, so you’ve met my one sister-in-law.

  2. I love The Onion’s political cartoons and how they promote the “wrong” message in an exaggerated fashion that it becomes funny.

    Like, it’s common for fat/ugly/hateful people to be labeled “True Patriots” while the skinny/starving/abused workers are labeled “Lazy, Ungrateful Immigrants” or something, usually accompanied by the Statue of Liberty crying.

    1. You should check out Derf’s regular compilations of cliche Crying Statue of Liberty cartoons, if his old blog is still online.

  3. The developers and the village intended to have a public pathway along the creek that runs through our neighborhood.

    Unfortunately, they built the houses first. The people who bought them didn’t want people strolling past their back yards, so no public pathway. (Instead, they have quite a bit of back yard that is technically village property, so they don’t have to pay property taxes on it.)

  4. There was a New Yorker cartoon a few years ago where the waiter tells the woman, “your meal comes with three of your companion’s French fries.”

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