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没有不能开的玩笑:《纽约客》漫画家谈幽默

更新时间:2017-3-9 11:04:33 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A Cartoonist Savors His Favorite Art for The New Yorker
没有不能开的玩笑:《纽约客》漫画家谈幽默

When Bob Mankoff announced last week that he was stepping down as cartoon editor of The New Yorker after 20 years, some people reached for the obvious, if not necessarily New Yorker-worthy, jokes.

在《纽约客》担任漫画编辑达20年的鲍勃·曼科夫(Bob Mankoff)于上周宣布离职,一些人就此开了几个浅显的玩笑,虽然不见得够得上《纽约客》的水准。

“Huge news for refrigerators everywhere,” one blogger wrote. Other fans hailed a “last laugh.”

一个博客上写道:“这对所有冰箱来说都是大新闻”。还有一些粉丝欢呼“笑到了最后”。

But while Mr. Mankoff, 72, may be leaving the magazine, he’s hardly retiring. He will be teaching a course about humor and communication at Fordham University. He’ll continue to consult on the Cartoon Bank, a licensing platform he founded in 1992. He’ll also be working on Botnik Studios, a company he’s creating with the comedy writer Jamie Brew that explores using artificial intelligence to augment creativity. (Mr. Mankoff, a former graduate student in experimental psychology, has already collaborated with a Microsoft researcher on an algorithm that can sort through the flood of entries to the magazine’s weekly cartoon caption contest.)

但是,就算离开这家杂志,72岁的曼科夫也不会退休。他将在福特汉姆大学(Fordham University)教授一门关于幽默和沟通的课程;并继续为他于1992年成立的授权平台“卡通银行”(Cartoon Bank)提供咨询;他还将为波特尼克工作室(Botnik Studios)工作,那是他与喜剧作家杰米·布鲁(Jamie Brew)一起创建的公司,旨在探索使用人工智能来增进创造力(曼科夫曾是实验心理学研究生,与微软一位研究员合作开发过一个算法,对《纽约客》每周报名参加卡通图注大赛的海量参赛作品进行分类)。

And of course Mr. Mankoff — the de-facto star of the 2015 documentary “Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists” — will be contributing to the magazine, though he’s already bracing himself for brutal competition from the many younger cartoonists he has mentored.

在2015年的纪录片《非常半严肃:<纽约客>漫画家部分全面的肖像》(Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists)中,曼科夫是实际上的主角,当然,他仍然会为这本杂志供稿,尽管他正准备迎接大量来自他指导过的年轻漫画家们的残酷竞争。

“I’ve gotten some very nice emails from some of them saying, ‘Now that you’re submitting, you are my mortal enemy,’” Mr. Mankoff said in a telephone interview. “I think I might have to steal all the ideas that have been sent to me over the years.”

“我收到一些很甜的电邮,其中有人说:‘现在你也要投稿了,你就是我的死敌,’”曼科夫在接受电话采访时说,“我想我可能不得不从多年来寄给我的所有那些点子里偷点东西。”

He’s kidding, though with him it can sometimes be hard to tell. “My mantra is to leave no joke unjoked,” he said. “I just feel that being funny is being awake.”

他是在开玩笑,虽然有时候他是不是在开玩笑可能很难说。“我的准则就是,没有什么玩笑是不能开的,”他说。“我只是觉得保持风趣就是在保持清醒。”

We talked with Mr. Mankoff, who officially departs at the end of April, about some of his favorites from among the hundreds of his own cartoons that have appeared in The New Yorker, “wonky humor theory” and that time he discovered that one of his punch lines had been repurposed on a thong. The excerpts here have been edited and condensed.

曼科夫将在4月底正式离职,我们和他谈了他在《纽约客》上发表的数百张卡通中他最心爱的作品、“扭曲幽默理论”(wonky houmor theory),还有他曾发现自己的笑话被用在丁字裤上。下面是经过编辑的对话节选。

“This is my most famous cartoon, and the punch line has been ripped off on T-shirts, even a thong. That one is a little tricky — why would you have that on a thong? I now own the trademark to the phrase. Initially, the Trademark Office denied it, but I was able to show that my cartoon is actually where this phrase, which has been cited many times, comes from.”

“那是我最著名的卡通,点睛那句话被拿出来用在T恤衫甚至丁字裤上。这个有点难理解——丁字裤上为什么要有这种东西?我现在拥有那句话的商标。最初,商标局不承认它,但我能够证明这个被多次引用的短语确实来自我的漫画。”

“One of the things you do as a cartoonist is look inside the language. You see a phrase like ‘the language of dance’ and you ask: ‘Is that a real language? Can anyone talk in it?’ One of the interesting things about cartoons is that they are a freeze-frame. Each one has the potential for broader elaboration. You can almost see this one as the premise for an improv skit.”

“作为漫画家,把语言剖开来看是你要做的事情之一。你看到‘舞蹈的语言’之类的短语,便会问:‘这是真正的语言吗?有什么人能用这种语言交谈吗?’漫画有个有趣的地方,它们是定格的。每个人都可以对之进行更宽泛的阐述。你几乎可以把这幅画看作是即兴喜剧小品的前提。”

“This is an idea that comes from just seeing something. The New Yorker used to be on 42nd Street, and we could look out on the Empire State Building, a huge phallic symbolic if there ever was one. It just taps into all our obsessions, or at least men’s obsessions.”

“这幅画的灵感源于日常所见。《纽约客》以前位于第42街,我们可以望见窗外的帝国大厦(Empire State Building),就好比一个象征着阴茎的巨大符号。它只是打动了我们所有人的执念,至少是男人的执念。”

“I did this after that Heaven’s Gate cult [the group involved in a mass suicide in 1997 in California]. That’s what I liked about it — it would appear that week or after, and people would associate it with that. At the same time, it would work on another level and continue to be funny. This one has been reproduced a lot. From my point of view as an atheist, it’s a cartoon about religion. But it can also just be about mindlessly following a leader.”

“我在邪教组织‘天堂之门’(Heaven’s Gate)出事后(该组织牵涉到1997年在加利福尼亚州发生的一场集体自杀事件)画了这幅作品。这就是我喜欢它的地方——它在事发当周或晚些时候出现,人们会把它和那件事联系起来。与此同时,它会在另一个层面产生影响,而且仍然会很有趣。这幅作品被转载了很多次。在我这个无神论者看来,它是一幅关于宗教的漫画。但它也可以仅仅是说盲目追随领袖的问题。”

“A lot of my creativity comes out of my speech. It’s almost like as I’m talking, another editor is working, trying to finish the line. I often start a phrase and then try to flip it or exaggerate it. I’m a little hard of hearing, and sometimes I’ll say to my wife: ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you,’ and she’ll say, ‘How far back?’ This punch line is an exaggeration, but there’s also a deeper truth relating to how much you actually listen to the person you’re with.”

“我的创造力在很大程度上来自我说的话。差不多就像是我在说话的时候,还有另一个编辑在工作,试图完成一个句子。我常常是先有了一句话,然后以搞笑的方式说出来或加以夸张。我有一点儿听力问题,有时会对我妻子说:‘抱歉,我没听清你的话,’她会说,‘从哪里开始没听清的?’这个包袱就是一种夸张,但其中也有更深层的真相,那便是你在多大程度上认真倾听了身边人说的话。”

“A lot of cartoons take place in very generic settings: two people at dinner, or sitting on the couch. Sometimes I see cartoons that are too well drawn, and I tell the cartoonists to take it back a notch — still draw well, but don’t illustrate, which deadens it. There’s something really nice about the simplicity of cartoons. You don’t want the image to mug too much.”

“很多漫画描绘的都是很普通的场景:两个人共进晚餐,或者坐在沙发上。有时我看到一些漫画画得过于好了,就会告诉漫画作者,把它下调一个档次——画得还是要好,但不要有太多修饰,否则会冲淡效果。漫画的简洁性是非常好的东西,你不会想让图片有用力过猛的感觉。”

“This is a really dumb joke that everybody loves. I loved doing this cartoon, but at the same time I thought it was dumb. But then I realized it was dumb to keep thinking it was dumb. One of the things you have to recognize about humor is that at its heart it’s stupid, and we should enjoy that stupidity.”

“这是一个人人都喜欢的非常愚蠢的笑话。我喜欢画这幅漫画,同时又觉得它很愚蠢。但我随即意识到,不停地想着它很愚蠢才愚蠢呢。关于幽默你必须明白一点,在本质上它就是愚蠢的,而我们应该享受这种愚蠢。”

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