English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This question wants you to choose the correct aspect based on the (supposedly funny) cartoon.
Oddly enough, I don't have a problem answering it, I just don't understand what it's asking!

enter image description here

Where is the joke?

share|improve this question
I think you are trying to read far too much into the character's name. Its just a name. – Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩 Jan 23 at 17:20
@BrianTompsett-汤莱恩 But that's the only thing that relates the caption to the cartoon, isn't it? – Færd Jan 23 at 17:22
I think the joke is visual not verbal. – Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩 Jan 23 at 17:23
The joke is that he's been thinking too hard and broke his head/his brain exploded/etc. – Kreiri Jan 23 at 17:48
By the way, if the cartoon really had been published with the two choices in the text I might find it funnier than it originally was: With the text as given the person on the left seems to avoid making a decision about the correct tense to use in a question about the other person's decision-making. - Then again, still not very funny. – Hagen von Eitzen Jan 24 at 0:09

There's a common wisecrack I've heard, and it goes something like this:

Person A: I've been thinking...
Person B: Oh, so that's why I smell smoke.

Jokes like these are intended to compare the brain to some sort of mechanical device. Think too hard (the reasoning goes) and you might experience some sort of mechanical failure.

This cartoon plays off that line of logic. Apparently, Pembroke (and, as the commenters have said, that's just a name – it might as well be "Jones") has a reputation for being indecisive, to the point where his head "explodes" when he needs to make a decision. In this case, a co-worker is making a casual observation of the aftermath.

I understand the comic, but I don't find it hilariously funny. It's mildly amusing at best, and could be labeled as dry humor.

share|improve this answer
Good explanation. Take an upvote. – cst1992 Jan 24 at 7:09

I checked out the word Pembroke in Wikipedia and found this:

The town and county derive their names from the cantref of Penfro: Pen = "head" or "end", and bro = "region", "country", "land", which has been interpreted to mean either "Land's End" or "headland"

share|improve this answer
Welcome to ELL! While this is useful information to have, it doesn't seem to shed much light on the reason this cartoon is funny, since "land's end"/"headland" don't have any particular humorous associations with the picture or caption. – Nathan Tuggy Jan 24 at 4:06
I agree that it's useful information, and so should be flagged as "not an answer" so a moderator can migrate it to a comment. – Jim Reynolds Jan 24 at 6:34
On closer examination, the OP appears to imply, in the question's title, a question about the name so it's perhaps responsive but arguably not complete. – Jim Reynolds Jan 24 at 6:37
This answer deserves more upvotes. "head", "end" and "broke" connect the name and the situation together. Maybe that's why the character is named what it is. – cst1992 Jan 24 at 7:11
No matter how good the research, this is still not an answer. I've flagged it as such. It'd make a fine comment. – Lynn Jan 24 at 16:00

Pembroke is just a name, it has no other significance.

Any humour in the cartoon will come from knowledge of the character over time in a regular comic strip. I can't speak for others but the frame presented contains no comedic elements.

It's likely from their clothing that Pembroke is some middle-manager who has no real decision-making power but will bear the responsibility for making their bosses' poorly thought out schemes work, but that's entirely a guess.

share|improve this answer
Kreiri's comment, above, is the correct explanation of the joke (with the correct answer being "been trying"). – user5505 Jan 23 at 22:17
@user5505 - above where... I'm still not sure that's what the intent of the cartoon was, if a characters head has exploded it wasn't drawn well, it just looks like poorly drawn hair and certainly wasn't obvious. Either option would be acceptable since both convey that an attempt to perform some action was made. – James Snell Jan 25 at 10:39

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.