January 24, 2009

MAD MAGAZINE going quarterly? I’m not surprised. I picked up a copy a few months ago, and it just wasn’t very funny.

UPDATE: Bill Quick agrees.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Alex Bensky writes:

I can’t say I care one way or the other if Mad goes quarterly. I use it as one of the significant signs of the cultural collapse, and I’m serious about this.

I can still remember articles and parodies from back in the sixties. I don’t find it funny anymore but that may well be me. However, what is interesting is how they approach their target audience, which I assume is still pre-adolescents, adolescents, and post-adolescent adolescents like me.

I recall one parody of the Kennedy family, a mock musical that used tunes from “HMS Pinafore.” Notice the assumption that at least some of the audience would get it. They did a parody of Mark Antony’s funeral oration (“For Brutus wails that Ceasar had big eyes, And Brutus is a cool cat. So are all of the cats in that combo, cool cats…”) It was no spot on that my mother, who either had a refined sense of humor or no sense of humor at all, actually chuckled at it.

In other words, they assumed a level of cultural literacy substantially higher than they do today, except for pop culture. There is virtually no reference to any cultural milieu except that and certainly little, if any, to books. I would guess the reason why they don’t have parodies of famous poems now (the Don Martin version of “The Highwayman,” using Noyes’s poetry with biker gang illustrations, is priceless) because their target group wouldn’t get it and, more, would resent knowing that they don’t.

The language and subject matter is much coarser, it’s more overtly political. We do need a national humor magazine but it’s been years since this was it. Sad, and I don’t think my view is just a function of my age.

Yes, that’s what I noticed, too.

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