The Skier of Insanity

charles-addams-skier-of-insanity.jpg
Charles Addams, the twentieth-century American cartoonist best known for creating the characters that became the Addams Family, drew this classic image in 1940. According to an essentially unverifiable claim in Wikipedia, "The Skier"
was (allegedly) used to gauge incipient lunacy in an asylum, depending on how long it took the subject to see why it is funny.

How long did it take you? In another "Skier"-insanity legend, Addams himself would periodically suffer mental breakdowns at the New Yorker, his employer, and begin drawing and redrawing "The Skier," at which point he would be carted off to the nut house.

Link (NYT login required) / Link to Wikipedia article

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Seriously! My folks have an old book by this illustrator that I'm sure probably has this illustration in somewhere - but I know that I've seen this in Loony Toones and other media and since then constantly in visual comedic media henceforth. Still. It's good to know where it originated. Fascinated that there was a purpose to it!
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One potentially more reliable rumor had it that Addams used to haul out his oft-rejected maternity ward cartoon with the ward nurse about to hand a newborn to a round-shouldered ghoul ("Don't bother to wrap it, I'll eat it here) and re-submit it to the New Yorker whenever he needed a vacation.
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