22 Comments

  1. The punchline is that Barney doesn’t know it, yet.

    When the coyote runs off a cliff, there is humor in watching him look down and realize his situation, and then watching him fall. This is more subtle. It’s the equivalent of stopping before he looks down. Why finish the joke when you already know the ending?

  2. Arthur, he’s already stopped the car. He knows.

    If he thinks he was explain it away and he’s wrong, we haven’t seen any evidence of that.

  3. Bill: He knows that there’s a policeman there. He doesn’t know that he’s screwed.

    The evidence that he thinks he’ll explain it away is in panel 3, where he says that he’ll explain it away. And your post title indicates that you think he’s wrong.

    It’s not a great joke, but I think Arthur has it.

  4. “He knows.”

    I think the “Piece of cake” comment suggests that he still believes he won’t be punished.

    As to your next comment, it’s like a proof by reductio ad absurdum. If he can explain it away, there’s no joke (as you found). Therefore, for there to be a joke, he can’t explain it away, and the joke is on him.

    Notice that, despite my explanations, I never said it was a *good* joke.

  5. Not every cartoon has to have a punch line per se. This is just setting up a mildly amusing situation and letting the reader imagine the conclusion.

  6. We know he’s pretty crass or thick-skinned. But certainly not stupid. And I find it hard to believe either that he has never been pulled over before, or that he has always on those cases been able to talk his way out of any trouble.

  7. Another idea.

    Between “The Man” and the pronouns, they are expecting a male cop. What if this will turn out to be a female cop? 👮 For whom his attitude will not go over as well.

    Except there is no evidence for that in the drawing…

  8. @ Mitch4 – A policewoman would have been a perfect way to end this strip, but I agree that the evidence just doesn’t support it (enough), although there’s no definitive evidence that this cop is a man, either.

  9. I think Arthur has it. But I also think Mitch’s critique that he can’t be *that* stupid is correct too. I simply can’t suspend disbelief enough to believe he could possibly believe “we’re americans; we seize opportunity” will go over well. Nor is the suspense “Oooh, he’s going to get it now….” (get what… a traffic ticket? Big deal) enough to warrant any suspension for the sake of a joke that I might be able to muster up.

    On the other hand, the Simpsons basically had the same joke in the “Bart gets hit by a car” episode. Mr. Burns bursts out to the jury “I’m rich! I should be allowed to run over all the children I want!” (which was actually funnier than than it sounds. As was the scene where Mr. Burns yells at his lawyers’ advice about the jury “[You say] they hate *me*; what jury are you watching?”)

    The Simpsons managed to make the joke funny but for all his plutocratic swagger and sense of self-importance Barney is no Mr. Burns.

  10. Depending on what he actually did (which isn’t particularly obvious except that it apparently involved ignoring a YIELD sign) he _could_ get charged with driving to endanger. Probably. Especially if he antagonizes the cop.

  11. >>>>Depending on what he actually did (which isn’t particularly obvious except that it apparently involved ignoring a YIELD sign)

    Seems clear he passed an the right at the point where the lanes were merging and the right lane was to yield.

  12. If someone says “why didn’t you yield the right of way?” I would take that to mean that I had the right of way (or else how could I yield what I never had). If I had the right of way, I would think that mean that I could go, and any yielding I did was optional (to be nice), rather than legally required.

    From the rest of the strip, I’m assuming what she really meant was “why didn’t you yield, as you were supposed to?”, but it does seem confusing.

  13. ” I would take that to mean that I had the right of way (or else how could I yield what I never had).”

    You might take it that way, but no law or traffic ordinance,school or manual, or traffic cop would.

  14. woozy: “Lane ends, merge left” areas don’t normally feature yield signs and it wouldn’t really make sense for them to do so.

  15. @ Dave – The solid and then dotted lane marking in the first panel seems to indicate that it was an on-ramp (merging onto a highway). This might be a geezer issue, but I remember that many such merging areas did (or used to) feature such a sign. Luckily for us, vandals (or a hit & run accident) has completely twisted the pole, so that those of us reading the comic can see the sign (instead of drivers in the comic). The perspective is horrible.
    P.S. Do “Yield” signs in “black on yellow” still exist in America? I thought they were all converted to the European “red on white” standard by the early 80’s. Yet another way in which the Weingartens are showing their age.

  16. I’ve never seen a red on white one in North America, so yes, they’re still black on yellow.

    The problem with it being an onramp is that we see in the next frame that it’s not a highway. Anyway, it doesn’t matter much unless we want to try to assess the driver’s chance of being arrested vs. just ticketed.

  17. I know they were all replaced in the Washington DC area before I left for college, so that would be mid to late 70s.

  18. There’s a Yield where my street crosses another. I couldn’t tell you which color scheme is used. I will try to remember this evening.

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