New Yorker Cartoon Editor, cartoonist, and author Bob Mankoff not only knows how to make people laugh but can show you how to do it, too. Existing in a world of lines and panels, ink and punchlines, Mankoff pores over hundreds of drawings to decide which will get a spot in the coveted pages of the New Yorker. As Cartoon Editor, he upholds a near-century old tradition of connecting millions of readers through the power of humor.
Bob’s career started, unexpectedly, by quitting a Ph.D program in experimental psychology at The City University of New York in 1974. Shortly after, he began submitting cartoons to the New Yorker. Three years and over 2,000 cartoons later, he finally made the magazine and has since published over 950 cartoons. His story and day-to-day at the magazine were the focus of the 2015 HBO documentary Very Semi-Serious.
In 1997, The New Yorker named Bob Cartoon Editor. Spending his days analyzing, critiquing, and selecting the magazine’s cartoons, he mentors cartoonists, new and old, towards the laughs readers expect. By 2005, he helped start the “New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest.” With over 2.5 million entries to date, the contest receives 5,000 reader submissions a week.
How About Never – Is Never Good For You?: My Life In Cartoons, Bob’s New York Times bestselling memoir, was published in 2014. The Washington Post said, “Mankoff's deep understanding of humor, both its power and its practice, is the live wire that crackles through his book...It's also an enormous window into the mystery and alchemy behind the creation and selection of New Yorker cartoons.”
The author of The Naked Cartoonist: A New Way to Enhance Your Creativity, Bob has taught classes at Swarthmore and led workshops on the creative process, helping all types of people transform a blank canvas into something truly original.
Throughout the 1980s, Bob cataloged and digitized every New Yorker cartoon, a project that became the Cartoon Bank, the world’s most successful cartoon licensing platform.
In addition to appearances on 60 Minutes and Charlie Rose, Bob hosts the New Yorker web series “The Cartoon Lounge,” where he takes viewers inside the process of selecting and producing the magazine’s illustrations.
- HBO Documenary "Very Semi-Serious" Trailer (2015)
- Mankoff takes 60 Minutes Inside The New Yorker (2014)
- TEDTalk: Mankoff "Anatomy of a New Yorker Cartoon" (2013)
- HuffPo Live: Mankoff From SXSW — "The Magic Of Cartoons" (2014)
- Mankoff at Univeristy of Michigan, "Past, Present & Future of Humor" (2009)
- Bob Mankoff on Charlie Rose (2014)
- Big Think: Bob Mankoff "Making Sense of Humor" (2009)
- Mankoff tells the BBC "What makes a New Yorker cartoon funny?" (2014)
Bob Mankoff is the ultimate New Yorker cartoon insider. He’s been a staff cartoonist for The New Yorker for thirty-five years and its Cartoon Editor since 1997. He sees over a thousand cartoons a week in order to help select the fifteen or so that go into the magazine, which over its long and storied history has published over 80,000 of them.
In this fast-paced and funny multimedia presentation featuring cartoons and videos, Bob ushers you into the hallowed halls of The New Yorker (Shhh! You’ll upset the fact-checkers) to show you the soup-to-nuts process of cartoon creation, giving you not only a detailed look at his own work but that of artists who keep you laughing every week, except, of course, when they don’t, puzzling you with a cartoon that you “don’t get”. What’s up with that anyway? In this presentation, all will be explained including how to increase your odds of winning the famous New Yorker Caption contest.Read More >
As young kids, most of us were taught that humor is silly and a waste of time. And so, while five-year-olds laugh hundreds of times a day, adults are down to about fifteen. We’ll see how wrong this prejudice is and how humor and other forms of play can enhance our professional effectiveness.
Humor has three main benefits. First, it’s physically and psychologically healthy, especially in the way it blocks stress. Secondly, humor makes us mentally flexible — able to manage change, take risks, and think creatively. And thirdly, humor serves as a social lubricant, making us more effective in dealing with colleagues and clients. We’ll experience all of these using pictures, cartoons, stories, and exercises.
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As cartoon editor of The New Yorker, and one of its most gifted contributors, Bob Mankoff spends his life pursuing that elusive thing called creativity and inspiring it in others. If you’ve ever wondered where great ideas come from, or yearned to channel your creative energies, or just wanted some pointers on how to get those artistic juices flowing — this talk (and his book The Naked Cartoonist) is for you. Along with some help from his well-known cartoonist friends, Bob takes you on an entertaining words-and-pictures journey through the art, craft, and zen of cartooning, along the way providing lots of personal anecdotes about his development as an artist and about life at the world’s most urbane magazine. But you don’t have to be an aspiring cartoonist to appreciate The Naked Cartoonist. Bob’s wisdom, and his practical yet whimsical approach to the creative process, are designed to benefit anyone who has ever stared at a blank piece of paper or canvas and dreamed of transforming it into something truly original (and maybe even commercial). What’s so funny? Bob Mankoff knows best. He also knows how you can find your own personal voice and message, how you can learn from the masters of the past, how you can transform a current event into a comic tour-de-force…even how you can incorporate telling lies and taking naps into your daily routine — and justify it.Read More >
- Humor and Law
- Humor and Healthcare
- Humor and Education
- Humor and Business Executives
- Humor and Mental Health
It’s not easy to get your cartoon published in the New Yorker. Just ask their Cartoon Editor, Bob Mankoff. Since 1977, his name has been synonymous with the New Yorker, but he didn’t get there over night—it was actually closer to 1,000 nights. It took three years and 2,000 submissions to see his name in the corner of one of his cartoons. More than talent, getting published took perseverance.
In “A Passion for Perseverance,” Bob Mankoff will show audiences how to stop worrying and love the process of creating. To achieve your goals, you need to be ready for the long haul, but as Bob will explain, the long haul doesn’t have to be a real slog. This fun and interactive program will leave you ready to get to work with a smile on your face.Read More >
Did you ever wonder why so many Superbowl commercials use humor? (At the Cannes Film Festival, 95% of the winners in the Advertising category are funny.) Have you noticed how even traditionally staid businesses like banking and insurance are now putting humor into their advertising? We’ll explore six ways humor works with customers. We’ll see how it creates rapport and overcomes sales resistance, opening customers’ minds to new perspectives. And because humor gets customers involved in processing the message, they remember that message better. In customer service, humor provides a moment of unexpected delight. Sometimes this is a bonus — icing on the cake — and sometimes it saves the relationship when things are not going well. We’ll also explore crucial differences between men’s humor and women’s humor and their implications for business. All these topics are explored using pictures, videos, cartoons, stories, and exercises.Read More >
Humor is traditionally at the hand of its author, but what happens when the audience picks the punch line? Each week, on the last page of the magazine, The New Yorker provides a cartoon in need of a caption. Readers submit captions, the magazine chooses three finalists, readers vote for their favorites. It’s humor — crowdsourced — and with more than 2 million submissions provided by 500,000 participants, it provides tremendous insight as to what makes us laugh. In this talk, Bob analyzes the lessons we learn from crowdsourced humor. And then it’s your turn. The sponsor is provided with captionless cartoons for a campus/company wide caption challenge. Mankoff selects the finalists who then compete on stage in a live Cartoon Caption Challenge. It’s winner take some because all contestants get original signed cartoons by Mankoff.
*A shorter audience participation version can be added to any of Bob’s talks.Read More >
From growing up Jewish in Queens, NY, to going to the Borscht Belt as a kid where he saw performances by Jerry Lewis, Buddy Hackett, and Rodney Dangerfield, among others, Bob shows how his Jewish heritage helped him to become a successful cartoonist and presents a personal and historical cartoon illustrated history of Jewish humor.Read More >
- How About Never - Is Never Good For You?
- The Naked Cartoonist: A New Way to Enhance Your Creativity
- The New Yorker Book of Literary Cartoons
- The New Yorker Book of Art Cartoons
- The New Yorker Book of Teacher Cartoons
Bob also has a broad range. Linguists, business academics, students, lawyers: he captivated them all. How? He’s not only really funny, but also emanates natural warmth. Bob has an unusual knack of conveying a “bad boy” persona, while sharing only tasteful and endearing material. It’s not that he walks the line between innocent and naughty. Rather, he somehow conveys both. Pretty much everyone leaves the room happy.”