Is Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot funny?
Yes. It’s a comedy about life’s tragedies, great and small.
Are cartoons inspired by Waiting for Godot funny?
…mostly not. Especially when they’re set in waiting rooms (or airport arrivals areas).
Godot’s a hard trope for a cartoonist on the prowl for something fresh. Dogs, psychiatrists, castaways on desert islands are more elastic subjects, universal, but capable of being spun any number of ways.
To wring a comic worthy of The New Yorker out of Godot, you probably have to be an actual New Yorker cartoonist, like Roz Chast, whose instantly recognizable work can be seen above.
Not to imply that New Yorker cartoonists are the only source for inspired Godot-inspired comics– the late, great Hergé, creator of Tintin made one.
(Oh wait, that’s not Hergé, it’s Tom Gauld who illustrates the Guardian’s Saturday Review letters page, scoring major points by relocating the terminally upbeat boy detective so outside his comfort zone that even Snowy is a negative image.)
Cartoonist Richard Thompson summoned Godot for a strip within a strip installment of his popular syndicated Cul de Sac. (Click the image above to view it in a larger format.) Will readers get the reference? Alice, his preschool-aged heroine, seems to, astutely echoing critic Vivian Mercier’s assessment of Godot as a play where “nothing happens…twice”.
I reserve my highest praise for the inspired casting of Beavis and Butthead in R. Sikoryak’s “Waiting to Go.” (.) Here we find a Vladimir and Estragon who truly embody the final lines of Norman Mailer’s notorious “A Public Notice on Waiting for Godot”:
Man’s nature, man’s dignity, is that he acts, lives, loves, and finally destroys himself seeking to penetrate the mystery of existence, and unless we partake in some way, as some part of this human exploration… then we are no more than the pimps of society and the betrayers of our Self.