Along with its whimsical, hand-drawn covers and its surprisingly readable articles on unlikely subjects, like nickel-mining, The New Yorker magazine is known for its cartoons – single panel doodles that can be either wry commentaries on our culture or, as a famous Seinfeld episode pointed out, utterly inscrutable.
Translating the cartoons to television seems a task doomed to failure but Seth Meyers, the newly-installed host of Late Night, managed successfully to do just that. The show’s “theater group-in-residence, the late night players” reenacted some of the magazine’s more famous recent cartoons. Many of the magazine’s most enduring cartoon set ups are represented – a bar, a wedding reception and, of course, a deserted island.
Providing deadpan commentary on the performances is The New Yorker’s editor-in-chief David Remnick. When selecting cartoons for the magazine, he notes, the primary criteria is that they “should be funny.” Check it out above.
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.