A Very Odd Lemonade Stand

Comics artist Matthew Diffee paws through the latest New Yorker rejects.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

It's kind of like "American Idol" for cartoonists. Each week, they submit their work to the cartoon editor of the New Yorker magazine. He's kind of like Simon Cowell. And then, when their hard work doesn't make it, they come to the BPP - kind of like that kid who can't really sing who ends up on the morning show contest. But we know that these guys have the stuff.

So returning for another round of the BPP's New Yorker rejects is Matthew Diffee, New Yorker cartoonist and editor of "The Rejection Collection." Hi, Matthew.

Mr. MATTHEW DIFFEE (Cartoonist, The New Yorker; Editor, The Rejection Collection): Hello. How are you?

STEWART: So who's with us today?

Mr. DIFFEE: Well, over here is Mr. Drew Dernavich.

Mr. DREW DERNAVICH (Cartoonist, The New Yorker): Hello.

Mr. DIFFEE: And then this is Mr. Paul Noth.

Mr. PAUL NOTH (Cartoonist, The New Yorker): Hello.

Mr. DIFFEE: A couple of hot shot cartoonists from the New Yorker.

STEWART: I got to say I find the cartoons very funny as most of the staff usually does. So I don't know what that says about us, but we like you guys.

Matthew, we're going to start with yours, though, first.

Mr. DIFFEE: All right.

STEWART: Let's…

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: …enjoy the audio version of your rejected cartoon.

Unidentified Man: A pigtailed girl is outdoors, sitting on a folding chair behind a card table. She looks slightly bored. On the card table are some cups and a sign that reads, clean urine. There are no customers visible.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DIFFEE: I like that they point that out.

STEWART: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DIFFEE: It's a limited market.

STEWART: Was this done before the Mitchell Report, during?

Mr. DIFFEE: I think this was done before. I don't know what the Mitchell Report is, to be honest with you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DIFFEE: I don't read.

Mr. NOTH: I was impressed you were just going to roll with it, though.

Mr. DIFFEE: Yeah.

STEWART: Let me explain it to you. There's these baseball players - they maybe have been taking steroids.

Mr. DIFFEE: Oh, about steroids.

STEWART: Yeah.

Mr. DIFFEE: Yeah. Well, I think that's always happening, isn't it? That's what I was hoping but I wasn't aware of the more current...

Mr. DERNAVICH: You thought it was the Monroe Doctrine.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DIFFEE: I don't know what that means either.

STEWART: The thing I like about this - even though it's in black and white, we all know what color it suggests.

Mr. DIFFEE: Right.

STEWART: And is it her urine? Was that in your mind?

Mr. DIFFEE: I think so, yeah.

STEWART: Little pigtailed girl.

Mr. DIFFEE: I think she's, you know, yeah, clean at this point.

Mr. DERNAVICH: It's somehow worse if it isn't her urine.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DIFFEE: Maybe so, yeah, maybe she gathers from her classmates. But yeah, the color, I guess that's the start of it. The color would be similar to an old-fashioned lemonade stand. I'm sorry I said that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: So let's move on to another kid in a cartoon. Let's play the audio of Paul's.

Unidentified Man: A small, chubby boy stands outside the open doorway of his home with an enthusiastic puppy by his side. A woman stands in the doorway with her hands on her hips facing the boy. The boy asks, it followed me home; can I eat it?

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: I don't even know where to start exactly.

Mr. DIFFEE: That was such an improvement over the visual, I think.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Is this a meditation on childhood obesity? I wasn't sure what to take away from this cartoon.

Mr. NOTH: Yeah, I'm not really sure either. I'm not, you know, I think it's just kind of funny because it exists and it probably shouldn't exist, this cartoon, so maybe that's why it's funny to me. Yeah, there's no message, though, at all.

STEWART: What was the motivation for it - did you see a little kid with a dog and thought…

Mr. NOTH: I don't know - I think something must have put - I must have had the classic "it followed me home, can I keep it" in my head somehow and then it was some - I have no idea how these happen. They just kind of show up in my notebook, you know. Elves come at night and write them - very kind of sick-minded elves.

STEWART: When do you write your cartoons?

Mr. NOTH: Usually in the morning.

STEWART: Yeah?

Mr. NOTH: Mm-hmm.

STEWART: You wake up with these sick ideas?

Mr. NOTH: Yeah, I do. I do.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. NOTH: They're just floating around in my head and, you know, fat kid, dog. He wants to eat the dog. It just works somehow.

STEWART: Now, did you ever bring a dog home or any sort of stray home. Is this from a personal experience?

Mr. NOTH: Actually - no. There was a cat though that - I adopted a neighborhood cat when I was a kid.

Mr. DIFFEE: And ate it?

Mr. NOTH: Yeah.

Mr. DIFFEE: Mmm, cat.

STEWART: Answered my follow-up question.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. NOTH: It's all coming back.

STEWART: All right. And now, we move on to the subject of death. Let's roll the audio of this cartoon.

Unidentified Man: A balding man in a formal suit grasps a microphone. Behind him sits a white casket donned with flowers. To his left, an elderly woman dressed in black, turns her back on the audience as she clasps a matching bouquet of flowers. She appears poised for action. The man speaks into the microphone saying, now is the time of the funeral when we throw out the bouquet to see who's next.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DIFFEE: Poised for action, I like that.

STEWART: Okay. Three questions. One, have you been to any weddings recently? Is this what sparks this - or funerals?

Mr. DERNAVICH: I've been only to a wedding. It is kind of a ridiculous tradition, isn't it? Throwing out of the - and I think the only thing that would make it more ridiculous is if you did it at a funeral.

Mr. DIFFEE: I kind of wanted to see like the old ladies lining up to grab it.

Mr. DERNAVICH: Right.

Mr. DIFFEE: Maybe not.

STEWART: Why did you make that choice not to put the old ladies - or at least fleeing because they didn't really want to grab the bouquet?

Mr. DERNAVICH: Right. I think it's that the reader can imagine themselves catching the bouquet and then saying, oh, my God. It's me. I'm next.

STEWART: It's sort of morbid, a little bit. Is your work generally have a morbid tone?

Mr. DERNAVICH: It doesn't really, although I do - my other job is I do carve gravestones so people - that's the truth. It's true.

STEWART: Wait.

Mr. NOTH: He's not kidding.

STEWART: You know I'm sleep-deprived, don't mess with me. Do you really carve gravestones?

Mr. DERNAVICH: I do, I do. But I don't do a lot of gravestone gags, but everyone thinks my work is more morbid than it is. I think this one is really cheerful and lighthearted.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: When you - I have to go back to this gravestone thing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: So is the style of your cartoon, which our listeners will be able to see on our Web site, is it in the style that you carve gravestone? They're sort of - it almost looks like a woodblock print.

Mr. DERNAVICH: It doesn't look exactly the same, but it's basically the same process. It's kind of carving - I'm carving a board filled with ink instead of a stone. Basically the same. But gravestones don't have funny captions underneath.

STEWART: I was about to say it's not a humorous gravestone.

Mr. DERNAVICH: Not yet.

STEWART: Have you ever had a request? Once people find out that you're a cartoonist?

Mr. DERNAVICH: No. I've had ridiculous requests but none for captions, none for silly captions.

Mr. DIFFEE: Do you keep it a secret that you're a cartoonist? Because that might disturb people if they're getting an image of their loved one and oh, he's also a cartoonist.

Mr. DERNAVICH: I do.

Mr. NOTH: Do you do your own print ads?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DERNAVICH: I don't think they want me pointing and laughing at their gravestones.

Mr. DIFFEE: Yeah.

Mr. DERNAVICH: Or there could be some horrible mix-up.

STEWART: Good luck with that.

Mr. DIFFEE: Thank you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Matthew, Paul and Drew, thanks a lot. You guys have been good sports.

Mr. DIFFEE: Thank you.

Mr. DERNAVICH: Thank you.

STEWART: All those wisecrackers were New Yorker cartoonists Matthew Diffee, Drew Dernavich and Paul Noth. Thanks so much for joining us for our weekly crack at the New Yorker cartoon rejects.

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Clean Urine by Matthew Diffee.

Clean Urine. Matthew Diffee hide caption

itoggle caption Matthew Diffee
Funeral Bouquet by Drew Dernavich.

Funeral Bouquet. Drew Dernavich hide caption

itoggle caption Drew Dernavich
Can I Eat It by Paul Noth.

Can I Eat It. Paul Noth hide caption

itoggle caption Paul Noth

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