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Monday, February 15, 2010

Why Do Cats and Captions Make Us Laugh Out Loud?

How can one picture of a cat, with a caption written in an almost indecipherable "language," be funnier than many two-hour movies that are billed as "comedies"?

I've been asking myself that question after stumbling upon an "LOL cats" photo at icanhascheezburger.com that is a true gem. The picture/caption combo is so perfect in its execution--and beautiful in its simplicity--that I want to preserve it for posterity here at Legal Schnauzer. Five days after discovering this little slice of comic heaven, it still cracks me up every time I think about it.

We'll ponder why this mini masterpiece strikes such a chord, but first let's give it a look:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

OK, I'm chuckling again. And believe me, that has special value when you spend as much time as I do dealing with, and writing about, legal headaches.

Like most classic comedy, this is a mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar. Anyone who's ever had a cat, knows that many felines have a fondness for the bedroom. One of the first things Mrs. Schnauzer and I see most every morning are Baxter and Chloe, our brother-and-sister Tonkinese combo, curled up at the foot of our bed. In fact, I can even imagine Baxter, our household's "Dennis the Menace," messing around with buttons on an alarm clock.

The look on the cat's face is priceless--a familiar blend of curiosity and self-satisfaction. And the use of strange spelling--"elebenty" for 11 a.m.--gives the scene a childhood innocence.

What is unfamiliar about the scene, what gives it a comic punch? Why, the notion that a cat would keep up with our affairs and even try to help us out by ensuring that we get extra rest. Who knew that a cat--the very picture of aloofness and "above it all" attitude--could be so thoughtful?

But then, with the clock turned just so, we can see that it's already way past "elebenty a.m.," and the cats "hoomin" has missed his big presentation.

The kicker comes when the scene brings us back to the familiar: The cat has no sense of time! Who understands less about the passage of time than a cat? And our little black and white fellow will never understand why his attempt to be helpful is destined to go unappreciated.

"No need to thanks," he says.

Oh, I love it. And it makes me want to give Baxter and Chloe an extra hug or two. I can't count how many times they've made us laugh or smile while we've been in the midst of handling the legal wreckage caused by sheer human meanness. Because I have no job--and thus, no big presentations to give--I value our kitty kats even more.

Unlike a dog, Baxter and Chloe don't seem to understand why we value their companionship so--especially in these difficult times.

They just look up at us with big blue eyes as if to say, "No need to thanks."

Maybe I treasure this photo not just because it's funny, but because it says something hopeful about humankind. As long as some people value their pets--and take the time to put pictures and captions together in amusing ways--surely there is hope for us still.

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