Sipress asks what’s so funny in new memoir
Cartoonist speaks

Sipress asks what’s so funny in new memoir

New Yorker artist opens up about family, obsessions

David Sipress did not sell his first cartoon to The New Yorker until 1997, when he was 50. He wasn’t a struggling artist – his work had long appeared in the Boston Phoenix, Playboy and the Washington Post, and he had some success as a sculptor. But The New Yorker represented the career pinnacle he wanted to share with his father – especially a Jewish father who immigrated from Ukraine “with a fifth-grade education” and ran a jewellery store, and who never regarded art as a viable career.

Nat Sipress lived long enough to hear the good news from David, but not long enough to see the cartoon in print – a twist worthy of a David Sipress cartoon.

The cartoonist’s new memoir, What’s So Funny? explores the fraught relationship between demanding parents and a son whose dreams didn’t match up with theirs.

Along the way, Sipress discusses his Upper West Side Reform Jewish upbringing in the 1950s; his way of “obsessing” about his family’s secrets; and his determination to draw inspiration from “what I’m experiencing day-to-day … what makes me happy, what scares me, what makes me angry”.

“As I say in my book, the border between my life and my work is flimsy at best,” he said.


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