Bob Mankoff

Cartoon editor, The New Yorker
Founder, The Cartoon Bank.

Humor in all its aspects, including business applications.

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Biography

A cartoonist and the cartoon editor of The New Yorker, Bob Mankoff is one of the nation’s leading commentators on the role of humor in American business, politics, and life.

He speaks on the appreciation of humor, the creative processes required to produce it, and how humor works. Bob's memoir titled How About Never — Is Never Good For You?: My Life In Cartoons is a New York Times bestseller. He is the author of The Naked Cartoonist, the first book to use cartooning as a means of exploring the creative process. Like his presentations, this entertaining journey through the art, craft and Zen of cartooning offers a unique perspective on how to be funnier and more creative.

Bob also conducts customized workshop seminars on creativity.

A successful entrepreneur, he created The Cartoon Bank (now a New Yorker Magazine company), the world’s largest and most influential cartoon licensing businesses.

Bob edited The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker, the best-selling coffee table book for holiday 2004, featuring all 68,647 cartoons ever published in The New Yorker since its debut in 1925.

Bob has edited dozens of other cartoon books and published four of his own. He appears frequently on network talk shows, cable TV networks, and syndicated radio programs.

Cartooning and Creativity
In his hilarious presentations, Bob Mankoff uses cartoons to explore the audience members’ potential for greater creativity:

  • How to develop your creativity and your natural talents.
  • How to find your own particular voice and message.

Plus an insider’s look at the craft of cartooning itself — what a cartoon is (and what it is not) and what makes a good cartoon work.

Bob also explores how humor as a form of creativity is related to other fields like science that deal with ideas, how the cognitive techniques used in creating humor can be directly applied to other fields, and research on the ways that humor reduces stress and generates optimism by altering mood.

Books

How About Never — Is Never Good for You?

A Life in Cartoons

Bob Mankoff

Memoir in cartoons by the longtime cartoon editor of The New Yorker.

People tell Bob Mankoff that as the cartoon editor of The New Yorker he has the best job in the world. Never one to beat around the bush, he explains to us, in the opening of this singular, delightfully eccentric book, that because he is also a cartoonist at the magazine he actually has two of the best jobs in the world. With the help of myriad images and his funniest, most beloved cartoons, he traces his love of the craft all the way back to his childhood, when he started doing funny drawings at the age of eight. After meeting his mother, we follow his unlikely stints as a high-school basketball star, draft dodger, and sociology grad student. Though Mankoff abandoned the study of psychology in the seventies to become a cartoonist, he recently realized that the field he abandoned could help him better understand the field he was in, and here he takes up the psychology of cartooning, analyzing why some cartoons make us laugh and others don't. He allows us into the hallowed halls of The New Yorker to show us the soup-to-nuts process of cartoon creation, giving us a detailed look not only at his own work, but that of the other talented cartoonists who keep us laughing week after week. For desert, he reveals the secrets to winning the magazine's caption contest. Throughout, we see his commitment to the motto “Anything worth saying is worth saying funny.”

Henry Holt and Co. (March 25, 2014)

Excerpt

How About Never - Is Never Good for You?NPR

Reviews

Comic ReliefThe New York Times Sunday Book Review
Memoir from New Yorker's king of cartoons — Financial Review
If He Says It's Funny, It's FunnyThe New York Times
ReviewThe Wall Street Journal
Must See ListEntertainment Weekly

Topics

Bob tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

Your Sense of Humor—Don’t Leave Home Without It (General Audiences)

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 social lubricant, making us more effective in dealing with colleagues and clients. We’ll experience all these using pictures, cartoons, stories, and exercises.

Leadership and Laughter (Business Executives)

In these times of rapid change and weekly crises, things can get pretty solemn. The last thing you might think appropriate in your work is humor.

But many of today’s most successful executives are famous for their humor.

A Fortune magazine cover features a picture of Southwest Airlines’ Herb Kelleher gliding through the air wearing a WWI leather helmet and goggles.

The caption: “Is Herb Kelleher American’s Best CEO? He’s wild, he’s crazy, he’s in a tough business—and he has built the most successful airline in the U.S.” A survey of Fortune 500 CEOs and deans of business schools got 97% agreement on three things: Humor is important in business. Most executives don’t show enough sense of humor. And when they hire, they give preference to the candidate with the best sense of humor.

We’ll see how humor works in business and how it’s crucial to the new post-heroic paradigm of leadership. First, humor is physically and psychologically healthy, especially in the way it blocks stress. Secondly, it makes us mentally flexible—able to manage change, take risks, and think creatively. And thirdly, humor serves as social lubricant, making us more effective in dealing with colleagues and clients.

Laugh for the Health of It (Healthcare Professionals)

“A merry heart does good like a medicine,” the Bible says. And for decades Reader’s Digest has featured humor under the masthead “Laughter is the Best Medicine.” But until recently, medical experts had little to say about the connection between humor and health. Now, that’s changing. In the new field of psychoneuroimmunology, we’re beginning to understand how mirthful laughter gives the heart and lungs a workout, reduces pain, relaxes the whole body, and boosts the immune system. In these and other ways, humor is the opposite of stress. We’ll explore some recent findings and—if it’s not too close to dinner—even speculate on the laxative benefits of laughter.

We’ll also see how hospitals are making humor part of patient care, with humor rooms and comedy carts. And we’ll introduce the medical magazine Stitches, the Journal of Nursing Jocularity, and the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor.

Laugh and Learn (Educators)

Traditional schools suppressed humor and laughter. Kids with musical talent may have been sent to the music room, and those with artistic ability to the art room, but kids with a sense of humor were sent to the Principal’s Office. Recent studies show that even Head Start teachers discourage humor in 3- and 4-year olds! Humor, however, is a kind of play involving divergent (creative) thinking, and traditional education has neglected divergent thinking in its obsession with convergent thinking—getting the single correct answer and not making any mistakes along the way.

We’ll see how educators have begun to reverse the ancient prejudice against humor, and how, when used correctly, humor has a host of benefits. It gets and holds students’ attention, it promotes retention of what is learned, it fosters critical thinking, and it promotes mental flexibility. We’ll experience all these using pictures, cartoons, stories, and exercises.

Sold on Humor: Humor in Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service

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.

Videos

Crowdsourcing Humor: The New Yorker Caption Contest

So you want to see your cartoon in The New Yorker? | CBS 60Minutes

Anatomy of a New Yorker cartoon | TED

Authors@google

Feedback

A healthcare services and assistance for the elderly organization:
Everything was fantastic. Bob was great and everyone remarked what a great presentation he gave. People lined up to get their books signed and he stayed around to speak to each and every one of them.

A leading private equity firm:
I have heard nothing but great comments about your presentation. Thank you so much. I think you might be one of my favorite speakers ever (and I have been doing this over 15 years).

Your type of presentation is really nice for health care executives who are stressed and can use a little highbrow diversion for an hour or so.

I think people enjoyed having a little bit of change of topic from the economy and everything else that's going on.

An arts & culture center:
It was a great success. The audience loved him, he was terrific.
Overall I would say it was a great success.