Style Invitational Week 1490: It’s parody time
Write a song about something in the news. Plus signs of incompetence in various fields.
Image without a caption
By Pat Myers
May 26, 2022 at 11:13 a.m. EDT

A runner-up by Diana Oertel in our Week 1486 contest for signs of incompetence in a particular profession. See the rest of the winners below. (For The Washington Post)

Add to your saved stories

Gift Article

Click here to skip down to the winners of our contest for signs of incompetence

Last weekend the Empress joined 70-some sweaty but otherwise jovial Losers and assorted hangers-on at the 26th (!!!) annual Flushies, the Loser Community’s own awards “banquet,” a spirited potluck/schmoozefest; congratulations to Loser of the Year Frank Mann, who scored more Invite ink last year than anyone else — well, except for some previous Losers of the Year … nine of them. How Loserly is that! The E’s favorite part of the Flushies is the singalong of Loser-penned songs — so let’s make some more: Write a satiric song about anything in the news these days, set to any familiar tune. Online, we’ll link to a recording of the original so that readers can sing along, but the results that will run in the print Post — including the top four winners — will be set to very well known songs. Videos are welcome as well (send us a YouTube link along with your lyrics); in fact, if you make a video, feel free to write your own tune. See this week’s entry form for more instructions about how to submit your entries, and this week’s Style Conversational for more about Invite songs in general.

Submit up to 25 entries at (no capitals in the Web address). As usual with song contests, you get an extra week: Deadline is Monday, June 13; results appear June 26 in print, June 23 online.

This week's second prize, a Humphrey-Muskie campaign bottle. (They came in second, too.) (Pat Myers)
Winner gets the Clowning Achievement, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a genuine heavy glass collectible bottle from the 1968 presidential campaign, depicting a Democratic donkey and the embossed images of Hubert Humphrey and running mate Ed Muskie. (Spoiler: They didn’t win.) It’s so weirdly quaint that were it not for the personae, you’d have guessed it was from the 1868 campaign. Regifted back to the Invite by Dave Zarrow, who won it in Week 449 in 2002. Dave is one of the very, very, very few Losers to get ink in each of the 30 years of The Style Invitational, so you can understand the tchotchke-deaccessioning.

Other runners-up win their choice of our “For Best Results, Pour Into Top End” Loser Mug or our “Whole Fools” Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get one of our lusted-after Loser magnets, “A Small Jester of Appreciation” or “Close, but Ceci N’est Pas un Cigare.” First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). See general contest rules and guidelines at The headline “LinkedOut” was submitted by both Jon Ketzner and Tom Witte; Kevin Dopart wrote the honorable-mentions subhead. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at; “like” the Style Invitational Ink of the Day on Facebook at; and follow @StyleInvite on Twitter.

The Style Conversational: The Empress’s weekly online column discusses each new contest and set of results. See this week’s, published late Thursday, May 26, at

And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago ...

LinkedOut: Signs of job incompetence
In Week 1486, the Empress asked for indications that someone was incompetent at a particular job. Among some 2,000 entries, too many to credit were of a proctologist directing a patient to “open wide and say ‘ah.’”

4th place:
Sign of an incompetent astronaut: “Are we there yet?” (Diana Oertel, San Francisco)

3rd place:

Cake decorator: “Happy Birthday Brian With a Y!” (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

2nd place
and the Cheetos socks:

Sign of an incompetent stand-up comic: “There aren’t any of those oversensitive people in the audience tonight, are there?” (Karen Lambert, Chevy Chase, Md.)

And the winner of the Clowning Achievement:
Sign of an incompetent babysitter: “Don’t worry about me touching your booze. I brought my own.” (Rob Cohen, Potomac, Md.)

CAN’T EVEN: Honorable mentions
Auto mechanic: “That’s so funny — my car makes the exact same noise!” (Paul Frantz, San Francisco)

Cop: “Come on over here, folks. Lots to see!” (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.)

Husband: “C’mon, honey, nobody cares how fat your butt looks.” (Allan Zackowitz, Brookeville, Md.)

Drill sergeant: Barks, “Left! Left! Left! Left! ….” (Leif Picoult, Rockville, Md.)


Car detailing service: Uses a mulching vacuum. (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

Spa massage therapist: “Do you prefer Metallica or AC/DC?” (Drew Bennett, Rogers, Ark.)

Brain surgeon: (whispers to self) “You got this!” (Jean Sorensen, Herndon, Va.)

Anesthesiologist: “Now count backward from 28,564,931.” (Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)

Zillionaire: “Next I’m buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back in.” (Kira Robbins, Los Angeles, a First Offender)

Dog groomer: “I just thought your collie might enjoy these cornrows.” (John Hutchins, Silver Spring, Md.)

Drill sergeant: “What a fine looking bunch of soldiers! Shall we do some push-ups?” (Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore)

Film producer: “I say we do a live-action ‘Bambi.’” (Karen Lambert)

Physician’s receptionist: Instead of calling patients by their names, use their maladies: “Mr. Hernia, the doctor will see you now; you’ll be next, Ms. Breast Augmentation Candidate.” (Howard Walderman, Columbia, Md.)

Tollbooth attendant: A sign in the window reads, “Taking a break — back in 10.” (Pam Shermeyer, Lathrup Village, Mich.)

“America’s Got Talent” contestant: Performs transcribed Yoko Ono solos on kazoo. (Bruce Carlson, Alexandria, Va.)

Accountant: “The font kept showing up red at the bottom of the column, so I just changed the screen settings to black-and-white.” (Kate Sammons, Ashburn, Va.)

Cat trainer: They think their job is possible. (Aaron Olszewski, Silver Spring, Md., a First Offender)

Algebra teacher: “Let’s simplify the equation by multiplying each side by zero.” (Greg Dobbins, Boynton Beach, Fla.)

Baby: Neglects to wake parents at 1:30, 3 and 4 a.m. for important babbling. (Coleman Glenn, Huntingdon Valley, Pa., father of four)

Bank robber: “Give me your money. I have a gun in the car and I’m not afraid to get it!” (Frank Mann, Washington)

Bank robber: “Woohoo, no more mandate, off with my mask!” (Karen Lambert)

Bank robber: “No need to hand over the cash — just transfer the amount to my account here that’s listed on this deposit slip.” (Howard Walderman)

Astronaut: “This helmet makes it really hard to smoke.” (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

Aztec: “Hey, Monty, that’s the liver!” (Pia Palamidessi, Cumberland, Md.)

Priest: “Sorry, I only do Last Rites from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.” (Karen Golden, Prince Frederick, Md.)

Baseball player: “What’s a superstition?” (Terri Berg Smith, Rockville, Md.)

Capitol tour guide: “And here’s where important members of Congress go to get evacuated if there’s an insurrection or something.” (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)

Dairy farmer: “I like these cows that got only one — they take a lot less time to milk.” (Tim Livengood, Columbia, Md.)

Dentist: “I wear these earplugs so I’m not distracted by the screaming.” (Terri Berg Smith)

Dietitian: “Are you going to finish that?” (Andy Promisel, Fairfax, Va.)

Firefighter: “Who wants s’mores?” (Paul Frantz)

Fox News anchor: “I can’t read this. It’s too ridiculous.” (Bill Bouyer, Ocoee, Fla.)

Grave robber: Plunders columbaria. (Roy Ashley, Washington)

Hit man: Dumps victims in the river with their feet encased in Styrofoam. (Chris Doyle)

Jockey: Always brings along his lucky anvil. (Duncan Stevens)

Marriage counselor: “Oh, for heaven’s sake! Why don’t you just kiss and make up? That’ll be $150, please.” (Beverley Sharp)

Marriage counselor: “So this is the old ball-and-chain, eh.” (John Glenn, Tyler, Tex.)

Life support system technician: Asks, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” (Ryan Martinez, Takoma Park, Md.)

Oyster shucker: “Anybody want this shiny white marble I found?” (Dave Prevar, Annapolis, Md.)

Nurse: Forgets to say “for me” with each request. (Dave Leveton, Gainesville, Va.)

Pilot: “Does anyone on board have Waze on their phone?” (Bill Bouyer)

Plastic surgeon: “Ohh, I thought you meant Marilyn Manson!” (Gregory Huyck, Frederick, Md.)

Poker player: “Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy!” (Jeff Shirley, Richmond)

Porn actor: “I’m not sure this scene is true to my character.” (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)

Psychiatrist: “Don’t be shy. I talk to crazy people all day!” (Bill Smith, Reston, Va.)

Rabbi: Wears a yarmulke with a propeller. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

Real estate agent: “Plus it has 3½ crappers!” (Jean Sorensen)

Reality TV contestant: “The one thing I will NOT do is humiliate myself!” (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)

Wedding planner: “Buy one, your next is 50 percent off!” (Mark Raffman)

Wine taster: “I’m detecting notes of … grape? Yeah, definitely grapy.” (Coleman Glenn)

Zookeeper: “Aww, look — the fox wants to play with the flamingos! Isn’t that cute?” (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)

And Last: Style Invitational entrant: “Hey, Empress, if you don’t understand this entry, just email me and I’ll e-x-p-l-a-i-n.” (Jeff Shirley)

Still running — deadline Monday, May 30: Our contest to rearrange the words in a movie title and describe the new movie. See

DON’T MISS AN INVITE! Sign up here to receive a once-a-week email from the Empress as soon as The Style Invitational and Style Conversational go online every Thursday, complete with links to the columns.