Cows with Lipstick: 'New Yorker' Reject Cartoons Every week Matthew Diffee and his fellow artists concoct finely tuned, wryly witty cartoons. Then they send them to the New Yorker, which sometimes rewards them and other times ... doesn't.
NPR logo

Cows with Lipstick: 'New Yorker' Reject Cartoons

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Cows with Lipstick: 'New Yorker' Reject Cartoons

Cows with Lipstick: 'New Yorker' Reject Cartoons

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


OK, so, here at the BPP we have a motto. Give us your tired, your hungry, your wry and witty cartoons that for some reason the New Yorker has chosen not to run. We take them in. We have room. Friend of the BPP, cartoonist Matthew Diffee, editor of the book "The Rejection Collection," is here for his regular visit to make us laugh, and give us a little take that fancy pants New Yorker attitude. Hi, Matthew.

Mr. MATTHEW DIFFEE (Cartoonist, New Yorker Magazine; Author, "The Rejection Collection"): Exactly. Hey, how you doing?

STEWART: Who did you bring with you today?

Mr. DIFFEE: This is Zachary Cannon.

STEWART: Hey, Zachary.

Mr. ZACHARY CANNON (Cartoonist): Good morning.

STEWART: Good morning to you. Zachary has got the radio pipes!

Mr. DIFFEE: Zachary, you've got a radio voice.

STEWART: Listen to him.

Mr. CANNON: I was called "ma'am" on the phone yesterday.

STEWART: All right, so the subject of today's cartoons fits in well with this whole block - food and cattle. For our first-time listeners, this is the way it goes. We have an audio rendition of your cartoons, so that this whole bit can actually work on the radio, but before we play it, anything that we should know about your cartoon method? You want to - your state of mind when you drew it. You want to set it up a little bit?

Mr. DIFFEE: Probably not.


Mr. DIFFEE: I don't know. You'll probably get letters, so I apologize for that.

STEWART: All right.

Mr. DIFFEE: We should just listen to it first.

STEWART: We're multimedia, we'll get emails.

Mr. DIFFEE: Oh, emails.

STEWART: Just so you know. The BPP Players' audio reenactment of Matthew Diffee's rejected New Yorker cartoon.

Unidentified Man: A large man and a large woman are sitting at a cafe table holding menus. A pig-tailed waitress holds a pen to her order pad. The large woman studies her menu as the large man says, "we'll have the 'breakfast all day.'" The waitress does not look up.

Mr. CANNON: I wondered what the adjective would be. "Large," I guess, is the politically correct term.

STEWART: Large, yeah. These people are of a certain size, shall we say, of course, sitting at this table. Could you explain the misunderstanding?

Mr. DIFFEE: Well, I think that they saw outside that breakfast is served all day, and they, yeah, they thought that was a temporal term, and they were going to have the breakfast all day long.

STEWART: So the faces are pretty priceless in this. What is the waitress thinking? What are the patrons thinking?

Mr. DIFFEE: Yeah, I don't know if the waitress is - she's probably just trying not to laugh, I would think, trying desperately not to, yeah, giggle. The patrons are thinking nothing, you know, out of the ordinary. They're just ordering breakfast. They found their restaurant where they can have breakfast all day.

STEWART: Now, is this just frankly a fat joke?

Mr. DIFFEE: It is, and for that, I apologize.

STEWART: From a tall, skinny Texan making the fat jokes.

Mr. DIFFEE: Yeah, exactly. And that's probably why it didn't get bought at the New Yorker Magazine.

STEWART: Have you ever seen anything like this actually happen? Or was this a figment of your skinny imagination?

Mr. DIFFEE: No. Yeah, my skinny imagination. Yeah, I've never seen anything - I feel bad all of a sudden. I shouldn't have done this! I'm sorry, everyone.

STEWART: Should I rip it?

Mr. DIFFEE: Yes. Tear that one.

(Soundbite of paper ripping)

STEWART: That's a mean cartoon.

Mr. DIFFEE: Mean.

STEWART: All right, Zach, you're up next. Let's hear the audio version of yours.

(Soundbite of rap music)

STEWART: No. Zach's doing a rap song?

Mr. DIFFEE: It's a dance...

Mr. CANNON: Very interesting cartoon.

STEWART: Who knew?

Unidentified Man: Two men in work clothes and ball caps are ushering a herd of crowds through a small opening into the side of a building. Around the corner, the viewers see another building with smoke stacks and a gangplank. One man is propping the sliding steel door open, while the other man is herding the cows through. The first man says, "it's gotten a lot harder since they started wearing lipstick." The cow's faces are not visible.

STEWART: Why don't I get to see the cows wearing lipstick, Zach?

Mr. CANNON: I think it would be harder for the viewer also to imagine them being ushered into the slaughterhouse.

Mr. DIFFEE: It's funnier not seeing them.

Mr. CANNON: Yeah.

Mr. DIFFEE: Also, we can't...

Mr. CANNON: It's really hard to draw cow's lips. They don't have lips, really.

STEWART: We passed this one around the office, and we were wondering if you were touching on the "you can't put lipstick on a pig"?

Mr. CANNON: No, I just thought it would be - you know, it's harder to put a human face on the cow, like an actual human makeup.

Mr. DIFFEE: Also, you can't use red.

Mr. CANNON: That's true. It would just look like they had really nice lips.

STEWART: You could do a little gloss.

Mr. CANNON: Maybe.

STEWART: Did you get any feedback on why this didn't make it, Zach?

Mr. CANNON: They actually - the New Yorker has actually passed on all of my slaughterhouse cartoons so far.

STEWART: All right, note to self, slaughter may not be funny to the New Yorker.

Mr. CANNON: Well...

Mr. DIFFEE: Maybe that could be a second book.

Mr. CANNON: I'm going to just keep trying. This one is pretty good.

STEWART: What is the crux of the joke for you, Zach? Help me out.

Mr. CANNON: Oh, just that it's difficult to kill the cow when it looks like a human.

STEWART: When it looks "purty"?

Mr. CANNON: Yeah, when it's a beautiful cow.

STEWART: Matthew Diffee and Zachary Cannon, your official name, thank you for coming in and sharing your New Yorker rejected cartoons.

Mr. CANNON: Thank you.

Mr. DIFFEE: Thank you very much.

STEWART: Of course, we'll let you see them on our website as well. Oh, here is the rap music!

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.