How many ways can one publicity photo be used? Alex Casey counts the ways.
Caption That has been a beloved segment on current affairs panel shows 7 Days for years, inviting comedians to riff on alternate captions for interesting photographs from around the world that week. Whether it’s riffing on a child on a swing in a wartorn neighbourhood (“John Key not happy with early artist impression of SkyCity convention centre”) or a snap of a explosives expert engulfed in flames (“SkyCity renovations going well”), the segment is so popular that audiences have been invited to submit their own to win loot on the 7 Days Facebook page.
But, in a twisted example of life imitating art, caption writers at Stuff appear to have been playing their own version of Caption That with images of 7 Days host Jeremy Corbett for years. Armed with a swathe of publicity image options to adorn any entertainment article in which he features, the anonymous caption authors are given free rein to choose whichever image they want, and write their captions as mysteriously, dramatically or colourfully as they so desire.
Some are straightforward assignments, like this one of Jeremy Corbett with Rosemary the lamb:
And this one of Jeremy Corbett and a slice of cheese:
And this one of Jeremy Corbett, king of many things:
But these publicity pictures of Corbett are simply too novel, too prop-based, too easy to caption. You can make a million puns about lambs, about flowers, about the royals. Where’s the challenge? As I found during my extensive research, true caption art is created when the publicity photo exists as a blank canvas onto which the caption author can project… literally anything. Take this heavily used example. Just a man, wearing a blazer, smiling with his arms buoyantly crossed.
Let us begin with a pretty standard offering from the publicity photo/caption genre:
4) Jeremy Corbett is a former breakfast radio personality who appears on The Project and 7 Days
A meat and potatoes caption of the highest order. Jeremy Corbett IS a former breakfast radio personality and he DOES appear on The Project and 7 Days. This is fair and accurate reporting. He looks approachable yet authoritative which is exactly the kind of thing I would expect from an ex-radio guy and current panel show guy. No notes, perfect caption execution.
3) Jeremy Corbett is a fan of science podcasts
This caption, from a story about celebrity podcast recommendations, also works. Recommending 5 Live Science from BBC Radio, Corbett explains that he occasionally listens to this podcast on his walk to work, preempting the reveal with a considerate “nerd alert” for the reader. “I enjoyed 13 Minutes to the Moon which is about the Apollo 11 mission and the second, dare I say better, series is about Apollo 13, the incredible story of trying to save a severely damaged spacecraft and get it safely home,” he said at the time. Look at that sky-high starched collar, look at that quiff of hair reaching for the Moon… that is a fan of science podcasts.
2) Jeremy Corbett… eeking out jigsaw puzzle
The Spinoff’s word boffins have confirmed that this caption, nestled within an article about how celebrities are passing time in lockdown, actually contains a spelling error – it should be eking, not eeking. But should it? Maybe he is scared of jigsaw puzzles! Think about it. Eeking out jigsaw puzzle. Eeking out. Jigsaw puzzle. Jigsaw. Saw. Do you want to play a game (puzzle)? Eek!
1) Jeremy Corbett recalls horror of 9/11
Now THAT… is eeking out.