1. PaulBC says

    Yes, I think if there’s a “punchline” it’s the bumper sticker. (Who else likes explanations of jokes even better than jokes? Yay! Explanations!)

  2. R. L. Foster says

    Hey, dad, why don’t we go do a little web-browsing today?
    (So sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.)

  3. PaulBC says

    rblackadar@5 Perhaps that falls into the category of a practical joke on his readers. (Though it sounds unintentional… but who knows, maybe that’s just his way of keeping the gag going.)

    I have seen other cartoonists that get more into surreal and seemingly joke-free images. Larson may have been going for that and misjudged his audience, who consisted more of normal people just looking for a laugh.

    I think it’s a bit mean if the “punchline” is just that cows are too dumb to make good tools. On the other hand, this is precisely the basis of “Polack jokes” (As my late uncle used to say, not known for political correctness but I think his heart was in the right place “I don’t get Polack jokes. Every Polack I ever met was a fucking genius.”)

  4. rblackadar says

    @6 Mean to cows? Gary Larson is a cow’s best friend.

    Just for the record, Cow Tools is one of my all-time favorites.

  5. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Re @2 & @3, yup, I agree, it’s the [smiley Face] sticker having 8 eyes because they’re spiders. All I can get from it, whoosh, Far Side always flies way over my head

  6. Sam N says

    I don’t know what’s apparently wrong with me, but I just took one look at cow tools and broke out in laughter.

    Look at the seriousness on that cows face. ‘These are good tools, uh huh.’

  7. Sam N says

    Anyone who reads the New Yorker knows of the caption contest.

    It’s up to the reader to decide whether or not something is funny. You’ll have to think for yourself.

    Of course it’s nice when someone else does thinking for you (so long as your values are aligned).

  8. davidc1 says

    @6 Yeah ,over here in GB there used to be jokes about the Irish ,and in France don’t they joke about the Belgians ?

  9. PaulBC says

    Sam N@12 True. “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” works pretty well with Cow Tools.

  10. stroppy says

    How about Never–Is Never Good Enough for You? My Life in Cartoons
    by Bob Mankoff, Cartoon Editor of The New Yorker

    Fascinating behind the scenes read and some good insight about humor (including the caption contest). Plenty of cartoons.

  11. mandrake says

    In discussions on this particular cartoon I have yet to see anyone mention the shed (cowshed) in the background, not even Larson per the Wikipedia article. What could make a cow more complete?

  12. Ridana says

    I guess I always took that strip to be implying that if cows made tools they’d end up looking like they were made of horns (or antlers) because cows dig horns (after all, horns are literally always on their brain). It made a saw to use to escape when locked up in the barn at night, and a back-scratcher for obvious reasons. I figured the leg-o-lamb looking one was a work in progress and the lump was raw materials.

    Not lol funny or anything. But I can’t imagine being so obsessed with a comic strip that you’d call or write to the paper or the syndicate demanding an explanation or just to complain.