Europe, Round Two

We just did our second European Fisticuffs! show in Linz, Austria, as part of the Next Comic Festival held there at the university. When I commented about how well the tech setup went, the IT guy matter-of-factly told me that “you are in the land of technology.” Fair enough! We were also in the birthplace of a certain führer. Go ahead, how many führers do you know? Yes! It was that one. So some of the jokes wrote themselves - or drew themselves, as we sometimes say in the cartoon business. Full video of the show is here, courtesy of DorfTV.

Because the beer didn’t drink itself, we had to help out with that also. Will we have a third European show? We’re looking at you, London, hint, hint. Screenshots from the TV broadcast below. 

Running Late and Kicking Ass

On Sept 20th, our performers found themselves on a different couch, and not even just a different therapist’s couch. No, it was the couch on the set of Scott Rogowsky’s Running Late Show at the PIT in NYC, where we staged our latest battle. Instead of overhead projectors we resorted to drawing on whiteboards, but we discovered the great advantage of this medium: you can erase all of the evidence. We also brought along some fresh kill, in the person of cartoonist Christopher Weyant. A full set of photos and video of the entire show are at the show’s web site, and footage of the improv drawing is here.





Performance of a Lifetime


Remember when the Beatles sang “I am the ape man, I am the ape man, I am the walrus?” They didn’t even mention the Fisticuffs! show, because it wasn’t around yet! Thankfully, those days are behind us. Today three Fisticuffers – Drew Dernavich, Paul Noth, and David Sipress – did a private show with Performance of a Lifetime, the New York-based improvisational theatre group. Attendees couldn’t be reached for comment because they said they’d have to use language that would “make their momma want to slap them in the tongue.” That means it was pretty good. 


Can cartoon fighting happen in different languages? The answer, of course, is “JA!” We did our first international show in Munich, Germany, last week with Paul Noth and Zach Kanin taking on German cartoonists Markus Rattelschneck and Rudi Hurzlmeier, with Matthew Diffee officiating. Was there a language barrier? Oh, I don’t know – is bratwurst delicious? Of course, it was a great event nonetheless. Humor is the universal language, and laughing at things you don’t understand is an even more universal instinct – remember, we’re New Yorker people! 

While You Were Away

Hey punks! We haven’t posted in a long time, because our cartoonists are resting their fists. But we’ve been busy.

First of all, we (meaning Drew Dernavich, Matt Diffee, and Zach Kanin) staged Fisticuffs! at the GEL Conference in New York City in April. All three of us had the home field advantage, which meant that it was it was a closely fought battle drawing “classy ladies” and zombies. Because the show was at 8:30 a.m., we can’t remember who won. These pictures prove that we were there, though.







Next, Dernavich, Diffee and Chad Darbyshire went west to the SAY Media conference in Napa Valley, CA, to show those West Coasters how to fight a cartoon battle with a glass of cabernet in one hand and an heirloom tomato in the other hand and also a Sharpie in another hand and a bottle of sunscreen in another hand and the other hand tied behind our backs (we dropped all of the items to take the picture, below). Due to the time change, our ideas were three hours better than our New York ideas, making us think that we should probably do all our shows in California. 


Speaking of shows, let’s do one together! If you’d like to have Fisticuffs! at your event, drop us an email at We are done for 2011 but we will see you in the new year!

What Went Down Last Time

The April 27 Fisticuffs at the 92YTribeca featured not only a hotly contested cartoon battle, but an all-out debate on the official height of actor Jake Gyllenhaal. There were survivors. Here’s what transpired. 

The ghosts of previous Fisticuffers haunted the backstage area. They don’t photograph well, but trust us - they were haunting the crap out of this place. 

Some wisecracker dropped a dime on our show and tried to get OSHA to shut us down. We were not deterred. 

Cartoonists Zachary Kanin, David Borchart, David Sipress, and Matthew Diffee got to work on drawing what the audience said was foremost on their mind: nudists and dead hamsters. 

In a scene eerily reminiscent of Goodfellas, Borchart flipped out a little bit. The gun was OSHA-approved, so there wasn’t much we could do. 

Remember those invisible backstage ghosts? One of them singled out an audience member and punched him for not laughing with the correct technique. 

Was there any doubt that The Donald would make some kind of appearance? 

In one of the evening’s more touching moments, host David Rees complemented an audience member on winning our caption contest, and then politely asked him to move out of the way of an oncoming meteor. 

92Y’s Maya Wainhaus took a bucketful of great photographs that show even more of the evening’s action, and they’re here. Stay tuned for info on our next show! 

Here’s a little appetizer for you in advance of our April 27th show. Create your best caption for this image and bring it with you to the 92YTribeca. We’ll read them out loud. The best one will win a little something from us! (if you can’t be at the show, email them to, and we will weep at what could have been). 

Here’s a little appetizer for you in advance of our April 27th show. Create your best caption for this image and bring it with you to the 92YTribeca. We’ll read them out loud. The best one will win a little something from us! (if you can’t be at the show, email them to, and we will weep at what could have been). 

Two New Shows!

If you’re in NYC at the end of April, you’re in luck, and not just because the pollen count will be down by then. We’ve got two Fisticuffs! shows within 24 hours lined up. 

First, at our regular venue the 92YTribeca, we’ve got an all-New Yorker cartoonist rumble with Matthew Diffee, David Sipress, Zachary Kanin, and David Borchart. What’s at stake? Oh, only bragging rights over who can most make it seem like a giant mistake that they allow us into the same publication as distinguished individuals like Seymour Hersh and Roger Angell and Zadie Smith. Plus, we are excited to have the indefatigable (only a New Yorker reader would even know what that word even means) David Rees acting as MC for the night. That’s the David Rees who created the revolutionary comic strips Get Your War On, My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable, and who now has, yes, an artisanal pencil-sharpening service. You won’t want to miss this. It starts at 7 pm, and tickets can be found here


The very next morning, Matthew Diffee, Zach Kanin, and Drew Dernavich will be doing a very short but very killer Fisticuffs! to kick off the GEL Conference at the Times Center (242 W. 41st St.) GEL is a great conference dedicated to exploring good experience in art, science, business, technology - and now cartoon improv battles. To register for the conference or for more info, click the picture below. 



A Bloody Good Time

On Wednesday, March 2, four more cartoonists took the stage to do battle with opossum stereotypes, skittish technology, people who stayed home to watch Law & Order:SVU, and each other. Bizarro's Dan Piraro and The New Yorker's Drew Dernavich bribed the judges, which, according to the official rules, gave them a hollow victory over Tina’s Groove's Rina Piccolo and The New Yorker's Farley Katz. ABC News' Christiane Amanpour was not in attendance. Here's what happened:

Pre-show, Dan loosened up backstage with a giant Tootsie Roll. 

Rina insisted on calling it the Pantone 583-C Room instead of the Green Room, which confused teammate Farley. 

Simultaneously, the three cartoonists got into character. 

Drawing commenced. We learned that unicorns can be failed, stupid, and evil. Later on, we learned that unicorns actually didn’t exist, which provided the evening with a somber moment. 

Don’t ask. 

Still don’t ask, but if you have to ask, you can blame this on the multitalented instrumentalist Tuey Connell, who was playing banjo onstage. This is probably his fault. 

Our host for the night, comedian Doogie Horner, unveiled the grand prize for the night, which was either a scholarship to Brown University or a smart car - we can’t remember. 

For the first time in the hallowed history of Fisticuffs!, a record three cartoonists came up with virtually the same cartoon idea during one of the rounds, which meant that it was a close contest. Thinking quickly, Dan Piraro sucked up to the host. 

Really? These guys were the winners

As the night wrapped up, the tension between Rina and Farley exploded into violence and they traded punches onstage, with Rina shouting “I’m gonna go Charlie Sheen on you,” and with Farley attempting to fashion his handlebar mustache into a weapon. Not to worry, though - they’re okay, and have gone back to work drawing with their opposite hands. 

THEY’RE ON TO US, FOLKS! If you watched NBC’s The Office last week, you saw this clip of the Dunder Mifflin caption contest. If you liked this, then get a load of the art form in it’s rawest, purest, and most dangerous state, at the next Fisticuffs! on Wednesday, March 2 (you can buy tickets here). The great standup comedian and writer Doogie Horner will be hosting, and Drew Dernavich (The New Yorker), Farley Katz (The New Yorker), Rina Piccolo (Tina’s Groove and Six Chix) and Dan Piraro (Bizarro) will be competing.

We welcome any Dunder Mifflin employees who wish to compete in the future.