The Chaparral Mocks L&M, 1960

Chaparral's real and fake L&M ads

Less Tar, More Tasteless: Back covers from January and February 1960.

College students will parody almost anything, but you can flip though hundreds of old campus humor magazines without finding a fake cigarette ad. You’ll find hundreds of real ones, though: From the 1920s until 1963, tobacco companies were the biggest national advertisers in U.S. college media. According to scholar Elizabeth Crisp Crawford, in the early ’60s “nearly 2,000 college publications, mainly newspapers, received nearly 50 percent of their advertising revenue from the tobacco industry.”*

The proportion was likely higher for humor magazines: Even the shoddiest campus chuckle-sheet typically had a four-color, full-page cigarette ad on its back cover, and a fat book like the Yale Record might run several more inside. The revenue from one such ad often covered an issue’s entire production cost. In return, prudent editors stifled the urge to crack jokes about cancer sticks. This quid pro quo normally went unspoken, but on the rare occasions it was violated Big Tobacco’s minions on Mad Ave. weren’t shy about reminding the kids who signed the checks. The only unusual feature of this 1960 dust-up involving L&M and the Stanford Chaparral is that the latter made it public.

L&M debuted in 1953 as Liggett & Myers’ entry in the fast-growing filter-cigarette category. The Surgeon General’s report was still a decade away, but already there was growing evidence linking smoking to lung cancer. The industry’s response was a flurry of filtered and mentholated brands pitched as “milder,” “cleaner” and “cooler” than traditional smokes; if customers assumed they were also safer, so much the better. By the late ’50s, the Big Three advertisers of previous decades — Chesterfield, Camel and Lucky Strike — had given way to L&M, Winston (born 1954), Salem (b. 1956) and a rebranded Marlboro (b. 1924 as a “woman’s cigarette,” butched-up in 1955).

Real and fake Marlboro ads.

Marlboro ads from 1935 and 1955; spoofs from Nov. 1957 Cal Pelican and April 1956 Mad.

L&M’s first Chaparral ad ran on the February 1959 back cover, a spot it held on six of the next eight issues. College Magazines, Incorporated, the New York agency that placed national ads in most campuses, normally supplied a fresh pitch every month, whether the product changed or not, but the January 1960 Chaparral reprinted the L&M ad from December. The “L&N” parody appeared in February, and in March editor Ray Funkhouser received a very unhappy letter from a College Mags account manager named Philip Knowles.

College Magazines' letter

May 1960, page 3.

Knowles’ letter was published in the May 1960 issue. It packs so much sarcasm, condescension, realpolitik and bare-knuckle intimidation into a few hundred words that it deserves to be read in toto, but the highlight is surely the righteous disapproval of tasteless louts who “think remarks about cancer are funny.” In reply, the editors brazenly pled guilty as charged, then insinuated College Mags’ indignation had more to do with money than morality.

The kids had the last word in the argument, but Big Tobacco got the last laugh, just as Knowles predicted. The January 1960 Chaparral was the last to carry a real cigarette ad; for the rest of the school year, the usual back-cover client was local merchant Gleim Jewelers. In 1963, Big Tobacco “voluntarily” stopped advertising in campus publications as part of a last-ditch effort to head off federal legislation; the move failed to assuage the Feds but put the hurt on college newspapers and killed most of the humor titles. The Chaparral managed to survive, barely, but was never again as fat and profitable as it was in the ’50s. L&M, meanwhile, fell from 15 percent of the U.S. market in 1960 to less than 1 percent today, but in 2012 was the fourth biggest brand worldwide; it now spends almost all its advertising dollars overseas. — VCR

_______________________
* Elizabeth Crisp Crawford, Tobacco Goes to College: Cigarette Advertising in Student Media, 1920-1980, (McFarland & Co., 2014), p. 34. Most of the book is a detailed study of one newspaper, The Orange and White at the University of Tennessee. Crawford barely mentions college humor mags, but their rise and fall correlates perfectly with the ebb and flow of cigarette ads in the O&W: Both took off in the ’20s, held on through the Depression, dipped during World War II, came back strong in the late ’40s and flourished in the ’50s.

The Yale Record’s “Smut,” 1951.

Cover and page 2 of Yale Record's Smut

Cover and page 2 of the Yale Record’s “Smut.”

 

Parody Of: Various girly mags. Title: “Smut.” Parody By: Yale Record.
Date: February 1951. Format: 16 tabloid-size newsprint pages in slick covers, stapled.
Contributors: None credited, but the 1950-51 Record Board included Walter J. Hunt (Chairman), Richard C. Lemon (Managing Editor) and Denver Lindley, Jr. (Art Editor).
Availability: Very hard to find; excerpted in College Parodies, pages 239-251.

February 1951 Yale Record cover“Smut,” which appeared as an oversized insert in the February 1951 Yale Record, might strike current readers as a general spoof of early-’50s newsstand sleazery. In fact, it faithfully apes a short-lived subset of men’s mags with names like Hit!, See, Laff and other punchy monosyllables. These titles borrowed their size and format from Life and sometimes claimed to be picture newsmagazines, but their true forebears were the Police Gazette and interwar gags-and-gals books like Captain Billy’s Whiz-Bang and the Calgary Eye-Opener. Their habitats were all-male environments like barber shops and fraternity houses, and their main draws were pictorials centered on the doings of strippers, bathing beauties, lingerie models and other females willing to show some leg. Such educational features were surrounded by dubious mail-order ads, suggestive cartoons, he-man tales of the “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” variety and shocking exposes of the Rich and Famous. All but the cartoons are gleefully mocked in “Smut.”

Covers of Hit, Night and Day, See and Taboo

The real things: Hit!, Night and Day, See and Taboo.

The Record normally disdained the crude sexual humor found in most of its non-Ivy contemporaries, but it loosened up a bit in parody issues; hence “Smut’s” inclusion of a feature called “Model Makes Good,” credited to a reporter named “Henry Good.” (Groan.) The puns are no better in an eyewitness report on the “Man-Eating She-Devils of Yukuku,” but they blend with the story’s non sequiturs and B-movie clichés to form a rich stew of collegiate nonsense.

Smut's man-eating she-devil story

A look “Backstage at the Smokahavana” (a nod to New York’s Copacabana) serves as the obligatory nightclub feature. Its chorines are a bit too fresh-faced and fully clothed to pass for hard-bitten showgirls, but the leering captions supply a depravity missing from the photos: Asked if she’s adjusting her falsies, hard-bitten “Fifi” answers, “Whaddaya think? I’m packin’ a lunch?”

Pages from Smut and Laff magazines

Nightlife as seen by Smut (top) and the real March 1951 Laff (below).

Within a few years of “Smut’s” appearance, most of its targets had fallen victim to changing tastes and increased specialization. The success of Confidential, founded 1952 by girlie-mag veteran Robert Harrison, sparked a trend that soon glutted the market for celebrity dirt. Meanwhile, dozens of new titles like Stag, Male, Man to Man and Men supplied vicarious thrills for WWII vets now juggling kids and mortgage payments.

The fatal blow came with the rise of Playboy, whose sophisticated airs and carefully retouched foldouts made the “candid” black-and-white shots in See and its ilk look both low-rent and prudish. The girlie pulps found themselves boxed in: too vulgar for respectable outlets and advertisers, too tame for fans of hard-core raunch. By the time “Smut” was anthologized in 1961’s College Parodies, the type of barbershop reading it satirized had gone the way of the 25-cent haircut. — VCR

Yale Record Parodies Since 1926

Five Yale Record parodies

The Record mocks Click (1939), True (1963), Film Fun (1927), Esquire (1955) and movie mags (1947).

The Yale Record was founded in 1872 and likes to call itself “the nation’s oldest college humor magazine,” but its no-nonsense title gives the game away. It really started out as “a Godawful boring weekly news sheet” that used humor mostly as filler, according to author and 1991 Yale grad Michael Gerber. The jokes slowly took over, a feathered mascot named Old Owl wandered in, and by the end of the century “the Record had transformed into that familiar dog’s breakfast, the college humor magazine.”1

The Record's 1960 Time parody

Grossman’s 1960 “Timf” cover.

Such mags boomed after World War I. By 1922 there were over a hundred, and for the next four decades the Record was one of the best. Its chief glory was a string of great cartoonists: Peter Arno in the ’20s (when he was Curtis Arnoux Peters); Whitney Darrow Jr. and Robert Osborn in the ’30s; Henry Martin, Robert Grossman, William Hamilton and Garry Trudeau in the postwar decades. Its writers included Stephen Vincent Benét, Dwight Macdonald, C.D.B. Bryan and the Firesign Theatre’s Philip Proctor.

The Record easily survived the Depression and a three-year pause for World War II, but the ’60s brought two changes that knocked Old Owl for a loop and killed off most of his contemporaries. The first came in 1963, when the tobacco companies, hoping to preempt federal regulation, quit advertising in student publications. This proved fatal for mags that could usually pay for an entire issue with one back-cover ad for Salem or Winston. The second  was the death of the old college culture of Gentleman’s Cs and secret handshakes, where helming the newspaper or debate club meant more for one’s future than making good grades. The Record was inextricably bound up in this world, and neither the reformers of the ’60s nor the studious careerists who followed them had much use for it. In 1970, the Yale Daily News bashed its rival’s latest issue as “a complete anachronism, … a museum piece of the Old Yale, a cultural monument to prep humor.”2  Soon after that bouquet, the Record sank and resurfaced only fitfully for twenty years.

The magazine returned for good in 1989 under the leadership of Michael Gerber (now its chief alumni advisor) and Jonathan Schwartz. Since then it has grown from two issues a year to six or more, and established a website, Facebook page and Twitter feed. The current press run is 500 copies — far from the 4,000 circulation of the late ’40s, but pretty good for a product available free online.

1943 and 1967 Reader's Digest parodies

Reader’s Digest parodies from 1943 and 1967.

Parody issues were cash cows for the college mags in their heyday, and the Record was among the few that could produce a major parody every year for decades. Info on the earliest is sparse online, but by the mid-’20s the parody was as much a part of the Record’s lineup as the Freshman Issue and Graduation Number. One of the last Records before the WWII hiatus contained a note-perfect, 64-page parody of Reader’s Digest; the first postwar volume brought a famous spoof of the New York (not Yale) Daily News that sold 18,000 copies.

Other postwar highlights included 1955’s oversized, 84-page “Esquirt” and a 1960 Time parody mostly written by Philip Proctor. The Record occasionally varied its pitch by spoofing a category rather than a single title, as in 1947’s “Happy Hollywood” or 1939’s “Phlick,” a mash-up of Pic, Click and Look whose cover shows a group of bathing beauties arrestingly labelled “Marihuana Victims.” Perhaps the Record’s greatest achievement was its 1961 “Yew Norker,” in which editor Robert Grossman skillfully impersonated some two dozen New Yorker cartoonists.

Two cartoons from the 1961 "Yew Norker"

Robert Grossman channels Whitney Darrow Jr. and Chuck Saxon in “The Yew Norker.”

The long parody streak ended on a high note in 1967 with another “Reader’s Dijest” even funnier than 1943’s. Michael Gerber’s 1991 parody of the short-lived National Sports Daily got the reanimated Record some good press but failed to revive the tradition: The mag hasn’t done a nationally distributed parody since. The format still works, though: In 2014 the Record printed 2,150 copies of a takeoff on its old tormentor, the News.

The following list is incomplete and, for early years, non-existent; dots (…..) indicate the most conspicuous gaps. The 1958 Yale yearbook mentions three Record parodies — of LifeHarper’s Bazaar and the Saturday Evening Post — but provides no dates. As always, I’d welcome corrections and more information. —VCR

Yale Record Parodies, 1918-2016:

Yale Daily News, in June 5, 1918
…..
College Comics (“Collegiate Comicals”), February 2, 1926
Film Fun (“Yale Record’s Film Fun Number”), April 20, 1927
Yale Daily News (“Yale Daily Clews”), June 1927
The New Yorker, 1928-29
Time, 1928-29
Physical Culture, February 13, 1929
…..
Vanity Fair, November 1933
Yale Daily News (“Yale Delayed News”), May 1934
Yale Daily News (“Yale Delay News”), June 1936
Typical pulp mag (“Real Spicy Horror Tales”), April 23, 1937
Yale Daily News, June 3, 1938
Typical picture mag (“Phlick”), February 23, 1939
Typical pulp mag (“Torrid Total War Tales”), February 12, 1941
Life (article: “The Record Goes to Wartime Yale”), in May 20, 1942
Reader’s Digest (“Record’s Digest”), March 1943
1946 New York Daily News parodyNew York Daily News (“Yale Record Daily News”), December 16, 1946
Typical movie mag (“Happy Hollywood”), November 1947
“Record Comics,” 1949 (parodies comic books &strips)
Yale Daily News, in November 1949
Typical men’s mag (“Smut”), February 1951
Yale Daily News, February 1951 [?; in YU Library catalog]
Yale Daily News, January 31, 1952
Punch (“Paunch”), December 1952
Yale Daily News, January 16, 1954
Male (“Tale”), February 1954
The Wall Street Journal (“Bald Street Journal”), in June 1954
Esquire (“Esquirt”), February 1955
Yale Alumni Magazine (“Yale Aluminum Manganese”), in June 1955
The New Yorker (“The Nouveau Yorkeur”), February 1956
New York Daily Mirror (“rorriM yliaD”), December 1956
Playboy (“Ployboy”), February 1958
Sports Illustrated (“Sports Illiterate”), February 30, 1959
Time (“Timf”), April 1960
Reader’s Digest (“Reader’s Digestion”), in September 1960
The New Yorker (“The Yew Norker”), February-March 1961
Life (“Liff”), February-March 1962
Typical opinion mag (“The New U.S.A. Fortnightly…”), October 1962
True (“Twue”), February-March 1963
Playboy (“Pwayboy”), February 1964
Sports Illustrated (“Sports Illstated”), February 1965
Yale Alumni Magazine, “Alumni Issue” 1965
The New York Times Magazine, March 13, 1966
Reader’s Digest (“Reader’s Dijest”), February (or late spring?) 1967
Yale Daily News, January 13, 1970
The New York Times, April 1, 1974
The National Inquirer, November 1, 1975
…..
The New Haven Advocate (“…Abdicate”), April 1990
The National Sports Daily, April 1991
The Yale Herald (“…Harold”), April 1992
…..
The New York Times website, April 1, 1999 (online here)
Cosmopolitan (“The Please Your Man Issue”), April 2009
…..
Yale Daily News (“Yale Daily Record”), April 10, 2014
Yale Daily News (“Yale Daily Record”), May 6, 2016

[Edited October 9, 2021, to add a few items and remove one: The Retraction (1989) was not a parody but a Yale humor mag in the late 1980s.]

___________________________

  1. Michael Gerber, “The Yale Record: A Short History of its Rise, Fall and Rise Again,” on Scribd .

2. Jeffrey Gordon, “Off the Record,” Yale Daily News, Dec. 3, 1970, p. 2.

College Parodies (Ballentine Books, 1961)

Ad for College Parodies

A full-page ad from 1961.

Book: College Parodies (New York: Ballantine Originals, 1961).
By: Will and Martin Lieberson (editors). Pages: 254.
Parodies Of: See below. Availability: Easy to find online.

I know of only three anthologies of magazine and newspaper parodies, and two of them have the word “lampoon” in their titles.* The third is Will and Martin Lieberson’s College Parodies, a mass-market paperback released by Ballantine Books in 1961 at the then-outrageous price of 75 cents. It’s long out of print, but abebooks.com has dozens from under $4 to over $30. If you’re at all interested in the subject, you should own it.

Stanford's Pest and College Parodies' reprint

Stanford’s “Pest” re(pro)duced in College Parodies.

True to its name, College Parodies contains extracts from over two dozen of the things, all published between 1939 and 1959. (There are also comic-strip parodies, many from the Stanford Chaparral’s annual “Crash Comics.”) The book’s only serious flaw is its pulp-paper, pocket-size, black-and-white format, which can’t do justice to works like the Chaparral’s “Saturday Evening Pest.” Other selections range from the Yale Record’s famous “Daily News” of 1946 — which received high praise and two pages of free publicity in Life — to local efforts by the Ohio Green Goat and Lafayette Marquis. The Liebersons don’t say why they chose these particular examples, nor do they say much else: There’s no preface or introduction, and only minimal copyright info. To remedy this, here’s …

College Parodies coverWho Did Whom in College Parodies:

Cover covers (top row, from left): Yale Record, 1959; Illinois Chaff, 1958; Denison Campus, 1954; Columbia Jester, 1956; Harvard Lampoon, 1956; (second row) Yale Record, 1955; Columbia Jester, 1948; Stanford Chaparral, 1955; Stanford Chaparral, 1957; (third row) Pennsylvania Highball, c. 1955; Columbia Jester, 1952; Stanford Chaparral, 1959; Yale Record, 1951. (All but Highball’s “Pest” are excerpted inside.)

  • Ladies Home Journal: Columbia Jester, May 1952  (pages 17-32).
  • Look: Stanford Chaparral, Mar. 9, 1955 (33-43, 46-49), Cornell Widow (44-45).
  • Saturday Review: Columbia Jester, May 1956 (51-62)
  • Sports Illustrated: Yale Record, Feb. 1959 (63-65, 70-73); Lafayette Marquis (66-69); Illinois Chaff (70).
  • Holiday: Stanford Chaparral, April 1957 (75-87).
  • New York Daily News: Yale Record, Dec. 1946 (88-98).
  • The New Yorker: Yale Record, Feb. 1956 (99); Michigan Gargoyle, March 1955; Harvard Lampoon, May 15, 1948.
  • True: Stanford Chaparral, April 1959 (115-116, 124-126); Yale Record, [?]  (117-123 [?]); Purdue Rivet (127); Michigan Gargoyle (128-129).
  • Confidential: Syracuse Syracusan, Feb. 1957 (131-142).
  • Life: Columbia Jester, May 14, 1948, reprinted Aug. 15, 1948 (143-153, 156-58).
  • Playboy: Illinois Chaff, March 1958 (167-68, 174-79, “Careless” on 181); Cornell Widow, Dec. 1957 (169-73, “Sticky” on 181); Ohio Green Goat, Jan. 1956 [sic; really Jan. 1957] (182).
  • Time: Ohio State Sundial, May 24, 1958 (183, “Letter” on 185); Cornell Widow, April 1958 (184-187); Florida Orange Peel, undated [1958] (188).
  • Saturday Evening Post: Stanford Chaparral, March 10, 1954 (189-199, 202); California Pelican, Nov. 1958 (203-204).
  • Reader’s Digest: Columbia Jester, 1949 (205-16).
  • Esquire: Yale Record, Feb. 1955 (217-19, 222-30).
  • Newsweek: Harvard Lampoon, March 22, 1956 (231-38).
  • “Smut” (generic men’s mag): Yale Record, Feb. 1951 (239-51).

— VCR
__________________________
* 100 Years of Harvard Lampoon Parodies (Harvard Lampoon, 1976), and National Lampoon Magazine Rack (National Lampoon Press, 2008).

The Not-So-Annual Parody Issue

Purple Parrot's American Home and the Duke'n'Duchess's Dook.

The Purple Parrot’s “American Home” (1945), the Duke’n’Duchess’s “Dook” (1949)

Remember my scare-quotes in the last post regarding “annual” parody issues of college humor magazines? I used them because most college hu… I’m tired of typing that … most CHMs, even in their 1920s-50s heyday, didn’t put out a major parody every year.

(By “major,” I mean a full-length parody of a national, or at least non-student, publication. This rules out every collegian’s favorite punching bag: the campus newspaper. Such papers are so ripe for parody that, in the absence of a CHM, student journalists will gleefully do the job on themselves, usually on April 1 or in the last issue before exams.)

The Harvard Lampoon's 1968 Life parody.The Harvard Lampoon may be the source of the “annual” misapprehension. Early on, its parodies really did appear every year: 27 in the quarter-century from 1919 to 1943. (Here’s a list.) They also came thick and fast in the ’60s, including “Pl*yb*y” (1966) and the brilliant but money-losing “Life” (1968). Since then, the Lampoon has produced a national parody roughly once every four years, and the intervals are getting longer. In the past 25 years there have been only two: “Premiere” (2005) and “National Geographic” (2008). Today’s ‘Poonies would rather parody best-sellers like The Hunger Games and websites like The Huffington Post, which inspired 2014’s online-only “Huffington Psst.” Links to the “Huffington Psst” no longer work, but copies of the Lampoon’s 1917 “Vanity Fair” still do. Advantage: print.

Others with long parody streaks include the Yale Record in 1954-67, the Ohio State Sundial in 1947-60 and the Stanford Chaparral in 1949-61; Chappie’s run ended with an item called “Layboy” that got the mag shut down for a few years. No doubt more examples are tucked away in college archives, but I suspect they’re exceptions. In every complete(ish) CHM collection I’ve examined in person or online, the parody issues are distributed fairly randomly. Four examples:

  •  Though the Ohio State Sundial (1911-73, with several interruptions) had a good run in 1947-60, its only full-length national parody in the three decades before that was “Vague” (i.e., Vogue) in May 1924. After the early ’60s, Sundial struggled to produce any issues on a regular basis, let alone parodies. The most recent resuscitation attempt was made in 2011-12.
  • Despite being a mixed humor-feature mag, the Northwestern Purple Parrot (1921-50; online here) put out five major parodies in its first 21 years, then got the bug and did nine in a row from 1942 to ’50. Its more feature-oriented successor, Profile, produced only one, “Esquirk,” in 1952.
  • The Duke University Duke ‘n’ Duchess (1936-42, ’46-51) did three full-length parodies in its eleven years. Two were produced by the same staff: “Esquire,” in November 1940 and the “D&D New Yorker” the following March. The third was put together quickly in November 1949 to answer a Look magazine photo-feature on homecoming at rival UNC. Called “Dook … ‘n’ Duchess,” it aimed its venom mainly at the Tar Heels; the Look format was only a vessel. D’n’D’s successor, Peer (1953-69), produced only one notable parody, a 1967 spoof of the local Durham Morning Herald.
  • The Missouri Showme (1920-63 with many interruptions; online here) was famous in college-humor circles for producing talented cartoonists and barnyard humor. The latter earned it several suspensions, though in the end it died of neglect rather than persecution. In the 29 years it did appear, Showme issued only two full-length parodies: “Strife” (i.e., Life) in February 1937 and the “Saturday Evening Pest” in November 1950. Later parodies of Confidential (“Confidental,” October 1957) and men’s adventure mags (“Sweat,” February 1961) were briefer and made little effort to duplicate their targets.
Covers of the Missouri Showme's Post and Sweat parodies.

Perils of parody: Showme’s 1950 “Pest” and 1961 “Sweat.”

Showme’s experience proves how tricky parody issues can be. “Sweat” was neither well-done nor popular, but its aroma of he-man raunch was strong enough to get the magazine shut down for over a year. “It included a parody of the life of a house-mother … who tried to trap a male janitor in the laundry,” co-editor Dale Allen said later. “University house-mothers were outraged by this affront to their dignity. They demanded that the university cease publication of this scandalous sheet … [and] the publications board … pronounced a death sentence.”

The “Pest,” on the other hand, succeeded editorially but failed commercially. It was Showme’s most elaborate parody at 52 pages, some enhanced by spot color; highlights included a nonsensical short story by editor-in-chief Jerry Smith and convincing imitations of famous Post cartoonists by artist Glenn Troelstrup. “Unfortunately, the very costly issue was late in arriving, and [was] sold on the worst day of the week for student activity on campus. It was quite a monetary loss,” Smith recalled. Promo ads had promised the “Pest” would be Showme’s “First Annual Parody,” but instead it was the last to fill a whole issue. Who knows how many “annual” parodies at other schools ended up in the same position? — VCR

Aardvark’s “National Reactionary,” 1964

Aardvark's National Review parody

Aardvark magazine, Winter 1964

Parody Of: National Review. Title: “National Reactionary.”
Parody By: Aardvark Magazine. Date: Winter 1964. Pages: 3
Contributors: None credited.
Availability: Not online; hard to find elsewhere.

In the early 1960s, a number of college jesters around the country independently had the same idea: Why not move off-campus, where Deans and Publications Boards hold no sway, and turn our anemic humor rag into a slick, money-making, grown-up magazine? The results included Bacchanal in Texas (1962), Charlatan in Florida (1963-66) and Aardvark in Chicago (1961-64?). They weren’t particularly slick, and none made money, but they displayed early work by Gilbert Shelton, Jay Lynch and other future stars of underground comics.

Aardvark cover Winter 1964Aardvark was going to be the humor magazine at Chicago’s Roosevelt University until the Powers That Be saw the first issue. Shut out at home, founders Jeff Begun, Ron Epple and Howard R. Cohen decided to broaden their reach to all the city’s campuses. Aardvark survived for at least 11 issues (the last I know of is Vol. 3, no. 2, from 1964) and at its peak was distributed from Madison to Urbana. Its strengths were sharp writing and smart interviews with humorists including Mort Sahl and Shel Silverstein; its handicaps included cheap paper, sloppy layout and ugly columns of typewriter-font text.

That’s not a big problem for “National Reactionary,” whose target was no designer showcase itself. Aardvark‘s parody limits itself to National Review‘s cover and two pages of front-of-the-book material, including table of contents and “In This Issue” column, an efficient way to mock a publication’s editorial matter without having to replicate much of it. The humor is broad — changing “Buckley” to “Cuckold,” for instance — but not deep. The main running joke has the “Reactionary” lauding largely forgotten troglodytes like Gerald L.K. Smith and Father Coughlin. Most NR readers had other heroes in 1964. (Strangely, the parody makes only one brief mention of Barry Goldwater.) A couple of items satirizing conservative unease over the civil rights movement are funnier and more pointed: “New facts just brought to light: … American Negroes, although they speak a different language, are, in appearance, identical to Cuban Negroes. Cuban Negroes are strong advocates of Castro’s bloody communism.”

Maybe “National Reactionary” was a victim of circumstances. On one page its date is given as “October 22, 1963″— exactly one month before John Kennedy’s assassination — but on the next there’s a reference to Lyndon Johnson being president. If Aardvark’s “NR” was planned and largely written before JFK’s death, the editors might have found themselves cutting a lot of suddenly inappropriate material just before going to press. That could explains the parody’s truncated feel and its reluctance to poke fun at current public figures. As always in comedy, timing is everything. —VCR

Two pages of Aardvark's National Review parody

 

 

More New Yorker parodies online

New Yorker parodies from Northwestern and Dartmouth

New Yorker parodies from Northwestern (1942) and Dartmouth (2006).

In case “The Neu Jorker” doesn’t sate your appetite for fake New Yorkers, here are two more you can read in their entirety online:

Parody Of: The New YorkerTitle: “The New Yorker.”
Parody By: Northwestern Purple Parrot.  Date: February 1942. Pages: 36.
Contributors: Portia McClain, Mary Ellen Sams (editors), et al.
Availability: Online here in the Northwestern University Library.

College humor magazines flourished from the 1920s through the ’60s. Now that most are safely dead, the same institutions that barely tolerated them alive are digitizing the remains. Northwestern University, for one, has a nearly complete run of the Purple Parrot in its online archive. The Parrot (1921-1950) was not so much a humor magazine as a general-interest mag with a large humor section, but in the 1940s it imitated a different publication almost every year. In February 1942, it chose The New Yorker.

The Parrot‘s version — called, oddly enough, “The New Yorker” — is more an impersonation than a parody: The “Talk” items, articles and reviews concern Evanston, Illinois, rather than Manhattan, but they’re straight-faced and factual. The “Profile” is of future TV star Garry Moore, then a young local radio emcee; and the “Department of Correction” is a real letter complaining of errors in the previous issue. Like most collegiate parodists, the Parrot crew easily nail The New Yorker‘s typeface and layout but can’t touch the effortless-looking professionalism of its art. Some of the cartoons are funny enough to overcome their visual awkwardness, but overall the Parrot’s “New Yorker” has more to offer Northwestern alums than parody buffs.

"My Face," from Dartmouth's 2006 New Yorker parody

“My Face,” by “John Terwilliger” (Mike Trapp) in “The Nü Yorker.”

Parody Of: The New YorkerTitle: “The Nü Yorker.”
Parody By: Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern.  Date: Fall 2006. Pages: 28.
Contributors: Cole Entress, Fred Meyer, Alex Rogers, Owen Parsons (editors), et. al.
Availability: Online here at the Jack-O-Lantern.

Cartoon of two dogsThe Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern‘s “Nü Yorker,” unlike the Purple Parrot‘s, is all fake and strictly for laughs, from Jerry Lewis’s letter to the editor (“I respectfully request … that neither my social  security number, nor a photostat of my birth certificate be reprinted in any subsequent issues”) to the caption contest featuring Jacko‘s favorite running gag, “Stockman’s Dogs” (two canines drawn in 1934 and present in nearly every issue since). Notably funny pieces include “Letter From A Truck Stop Outside Neola, NE: This Place Sucks”; a deranged “Profile” of a poor guy named Jack Napier who can’t convince the author he’s not the Joker; and a wonderfully pretentious poem, “Skipping Cultural Stones on the Sea of Aspersions.”

The Jacko folks don’t show much interest in parodying specific writers and artists, and in the “Talk of Town” they don’t even bother to use The New Yorker‘s detached, distinctive editorial “we.” Some of the cartoons are so aggressively dumb they’re funny, but too many look like they were drawn with chewed toothpicks; they’re out-of-place amid the clean design and cleverly faked ads. Such flaws are easily outweighed by the silliness of a piece like “My Face” (above) or a “Shouts and Murmurs” column made up entirely of voices murmuring and shouting. College humor mags were the breeding ground for this type of crazy/clever whimsy, and “The Nü Yorker” revels in it. — VCR

Harvard Lampoon Parodies Since 1911

Covers of six Harvard Lampoon parodies

Clockwise from left: Lampoon parodies from 1920, May 1919, 2005, 2008, 1938 and October 1919.

I’ll bet the Harvard Lampoon has snagged more publicity for its parody issues over the years than all other humor magazines combined, but neither The Harvard Lampoon Centennial Celebration (1973) nor 100 Years of Harvard Lampoon Parodies (1976) bothers to list them all. Here’s what I’ve pieced together from these and other sources.

This list is of full-length national magazine and newspaper parodies only. It doesn’t include (a) short parodies inside regular issues, such as the five-page New Yorker spoof in the Jan. 17, 1935 Lampoon; or (b) parodies of on-campus publications such as H-Bomb, the Advocate and especially the Harvard Crimson (takedowns of which are “occasionally supplied to the student body in deference to overwhelming demand,” if 100 Years… is to be believed).

Life, March 3, 1911 (the old humor mag, not the Time Inc. version)
The Saturday Evening Post (and others?), __ 1912
Vanity Fair, April 6, 1917
The Boston Evening Transcript, May 9, 1919
Cosmopolitan, October 24, 1919
Popular Mechanics, October 29, 1920
Ladies’ Home Journal, __ 1921
Town & Country, January 31, 1923
St. Nicholas, March 27, 1924
Literary Digest, April 15, 1925 (two printings, the second censored)
Photoplay, April 1926
The Wonder Book, April 13, 1927
The New Yorker of Boston, April 19, 1928
The Sportsman, April 18, 1929
The Illustrated London News, April 17, 1930 (misdated 1920 on cover)
Liberty: April 16, 1931
Harvard AA News, November 19, 1931 (AA = Athletic Association)
Harvard Alumni Bulletin, April 15, 1932
Babies, Just Babies, January 19, 1933 (called “Tutors, Just Tutors”)
Fortune, May 1933
The Boston Daily Record, May 8, 1934
Esquire, April 1935
The Saturday Evening Post, April 23, 1936
Cosmopolitan, April 1937
Vogue, May 4, 1938
The New Yorker, May 6, 1939 (Celebration calls this the first parody to “imitate an entire format including advertising layout”)
Ladies’ Home Journal, April 1940
Time, April 8, 1941
P.M., April 30, 1942
Washington Pie, April 30, 1943 (a parody without a subject; 100 Years… says this was “so realistic it fooled most people into thinking there actually was such a magazine”)
Newsweek, April 14, 1947
The New Yorker, May 15, 1948
Pontoon, fall 1950 (parody of a typical college humor mag)
Punch, December 17, 1950
Newsweek, March 22, 1956
Saturday Review, January 23, 1961
Mademoiselle, July 1961 (in Mademoiselle)
Mademoiselle, July 1962 (in Mademoiselle)
Esquire, July 1963 (in Mademoiselle)
Time, May 31, 1965
Playboy, Fall 1966
The New York Times, March 7, 1968 (fake front page wrapped around a year-old real Times; local distribution only)
Life, Fall 1968
Time, Fall 1969
Cosmopolitan, Fall 1972
Sports Illustrated, Fall 1974
People, Fall 1981
Newsweek, Fall 1982
USA Today, Spring 1986
Time, Spring 1989
Forbes, Fall 1989
Dartmouth Review, April 1992 (local distribution, plus Dartmouth)
Entertainment Weekly, Fall/Winter 1994
Premiere, Fall 2005
National Geographic, April 2008

— VCR