No, this post is not about Congress. (rim shot)
Many of you will recognize the above phrase as the description of the contributing artists and writers in each month’s issue of a favorite indulgence of mine in my youth, MAD Magazine.
I loved MAD Magazine. The satire found in its pages was consistently brilliant. Comedian George Carlin once acknowledged its influence on the development of his own satirical worldview. Though its humor was decidedly less acerbic and adult than the other classic humor magazine of its time, National Lampoon, MAD still landed plenty of hard punches to politicians, show biz types, business big shots, the media, doctors, lawyers, preachers, you name it.
With the ubiquitous, gap-toothed smile of Mr. “What, Me Worry?”, himself, Alfred E. Neuman, greeting you on the cover of every issue, MAD reliably brought the laughs, along with the relevant social commentary. It was an original.
Some of my favorite regular features from MAD were:
- “The Lighter Side Of (something different every month),” by Dave Berg.
- “The Shadow Knows,” by Sergio Aragones. (also his clever drawings in the margins)
- The movie spoof, usually drawn my Mort Drucker.
- The TV show spoof, usually drawn by Angelo Torres.
- TV commercial spoofs, by various artists and writers.
- “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” and the always brilliant “MAD Fold-In,” by Al Jaffee.
- The classic, wordless “Spy vs. Spy,” by Antonio Prohias.
- Frank Jacobs’ hilarious poems and song lyrics.
- And my personal favorite, “MAD’s MADdest artist,” Don Martin. Hysterical. (Fact: The hardest I ever saw either of my brothers laugh was at a Don Martin cartoon.)
These great talents, along with many others, like Bob Clarke, Dick DeBartolo, Paul Coker, Jr. and Jack Davis, were far from idiots; they were smart, razor-sharp and, above all, consistently funny. Every issue had something in it to crack me up, and I greatly enjoyed reading them.
MAD Magazine is 64 years old this year, and while it doesn’t boast the readership it had back in its heyday, it still delivers on humor that is fresh, relevant and incisive.
(And Jaffee, Aragones and six other longtime veterans are still at it! They must be MAD)
But, make no mistake, before there was Spy magazine, before there was Saturday Night Live, before there was Second City Television, or National Lampoon, there was MAD, the granddaddy of satire.
The original “Up yours, the Establishment!” publication.
Happy Birthday, MAD Magazine. A toast to all you idiots.