I drew this in my sketchbook a long time ago. It’s an usher telling a well-dressed couple that their seats are not in the orchestra pit, but the mosh pit. Yeah, go ahead and groan. I never drew it up for submission because I didn’t think it was worthy. First of all, you have to include both halves of the joke in order for it to work (orchestra/mosh) which means you’re telegraphing the punch line to the reader in advance. And it looks like the couple is getting pranked. Pranking is funny, but not in cartoons. That’s best left to Ashton Kutcher.
But opera vs. mosh pit was still a funny juxtaposition. That’s because mosh pits are outright stupid. Someone should do a different cartoon about them that has more to do with what actually goes on there. I’m not opposed to them. If you’re young enough or drunk enough they’re a great way to blow off steam. I prefer the crazy skank-dancing ones to the ones where people line up and batter each other like angry rams, but it is funny how they spontaneously materialize if the conditions are right and then disappear, almost like the Northern Lights if the Northern Lights had tattoos up it’s arm and grew up listening to System of a Down.
True story: somebody tried to kill me in a mosh pit once. The person kept pushing me into the trombone player, hoping that I would get knocked unconscious with the instrument (it was a ska band – how did you know?). This year at SXSW I was standing well outside of a mosh pit watching people crowd-surf with their backpacks still on. It made me wonder whether mosh pits were less dangerous now, or whether this was just good multi-tasking. I mean, if you’re crowd surfing for more than two minutes then it’s as good an opportunity as any to get some good reading done.
The point is, I never liked this cartoon. And then one day I saw something that had an opera box in it. I don’t remember what it was, specifically, but I had it on the brain when I came across this sketch again and suddenly the problems were solved. The visual cue for the opera box is better than the verbal one for the orchestra pit. That’s the last thing you expect the woman to be looking down upon. And she’s not getting duped. She wants in herself, which is a lot funnier idea from a humor standpoint because it makes you look at her again and say “wha-?”
From there all that was left to do was draw the revised scenario, which appears in the New Yorker this week. I had to use reference because I’ve never been to the opera before. Maybe someday I will get to go to one and dive into the crowd from the balcony.