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, 1926-2016:

…..
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
Generic 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
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, 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”), 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
Generic 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 Retraction”), 1989
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

___________________________

  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).

Stanford Chaparral Parodies, 1915-2008.

Covers of five Stanford parodies

Clockwise: Parodies of the Stanford Sequoia (1915), horror pulps (1941), Saturday Evening Post (1954), Look (1955) and Ladies’ Home Journal (1951).

The Stanford Chaparral was the first successful college humor magazine outside the Ivy League. Recent grad Everett W. Smith and senior Bristow Adams put out the first issue in October 1899; they also gave the magazine its mascot:  a middle-aged jester in Harold Lloyd glasses called “the Old Boy.” In 1905, Judge’s Monthly listed the Chaparral and its nearby rival the California Pelican (b. 1901) among the best-known college magazines. Both remained fixtures of Top Ten polls for sixty years.

Another "new costume": 1967's "Groin."

Another “new costume”: 1967 “Groin.”

Other magazines envied the Chaparral for its plentiful advertising, professional appearance and frequent parody issues. In the April 1903 “woman’s edition,” the all-female staff briefly parodied the Ladies’ Home Journal and the campus literary magazine, the Sequoia. What may be the first issue-length parody was another Sequoia, dubbed the “Squaller,” in January 1915. “Chappie has secured a new costume,” the Daily Palo Alto wrote, as if introducing readers to an unfamiliar concept. “It is the business suit of the Sequoia. The new garments, exterior and interior, are to the exact style and cut of those of his red-jacketed companion, for his whole get-up will be a jocose though satirical impersonation.”

Cover of 1961 Layboy.

1961 “Layboy.”

The golden age for Chaparral parodies was the 1950s, which was also the heyday of Life, Look, the Saturday Evening Post, Holiday and other large-format, lushly illustrated sitting ducks. The Chaparral couldn’t match their production values, but it came closer than most college mags, especially in “Lurk” (Look) and the “Saturday Evening Pile” (the Post). The most notorious parody was 1961’s “Layboy,” a mock Playboy that got editor Brad Efron suspended and the Chaparral shut down for the rest of the year. The unluckiest was a 1981 spoof of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday magazine, Datebook. Playing off the popularity of Dallas, “Datebook’s” cover asked “Who Shot RR?” over a photo of President Reagan in a cowboy hat. The magazine went on sale at 9 a.m. local time on Monday, March 30, one hour before Reagan was shot for real in Washington, D.C.

Cover of 1981 Datebook parody.

“Datebook,” in Joey Green’s
Hellbent on Insanity 
(Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1982).

Like most campus mags, the Chaparral sputtered and stalled in the 1960s. Unlike them, it kept going, though its claim to be “the nation’s second oldest continually published humor magazine” (after the Lampoon) is a stretch: In addition to the 1961 “Layboy” hiatus, the Chaparral abandoned humor for radical politics in the Nixon era, and in the ’80s it sometimes appeared only once or twice a year. The Chaparral last made national news in 2004, when its outside-the-box parody of “A Pile of Paper” —  bills, restaurant menus, lottery tickets, etc. — was written up in The New Yorker. More recent sightings are scarce. The magazine’s Twitter account has been dormant for two years, and the most recent issue on its website, stanfordchaparral.com, is dated Sept. 2005.

This list includes all the Chaparral parodies I know of, including those of other campus publications, but it’s far from complete. I’ve used dots (….) to show the longer gaps and would appreciate help filling them. Most of the info comes from the Stanford Daily archive (online here), The Stanford Chaparral Inaugural Century (Stanford Chaparral, 1999) and my own collection.

Stanford Chaparral Parodies, 1915-2008:

The Stanford Sequoia (“The Stanford Squaller”), January 1915.
….
Judge (“Judge Bathing Girl Number”), May 1925.
Vanity Fair, January 1926.
College Humor (“College Rumor”), March 1928.
Various publications (“Parody Number”), June 1928.
Various publications (“Magazine Parody”), March 1929.
True Love / True Confessions (“True Love Confessions”), March 1930.
The Quad (“The Quid”), June 1930 [Stanford yearbook]
Typical 19th-century magazine (“The Family Gazette”), February 1931.
The American Weekly (“…Weakly”), March 1932.
The Quad (“The Quid”), June 1931.
The American Weekly (“…Weakly”), March 1932.
Various campus publications, May 1934.
The Quad (“The Quid”), June 1935.
The Stanford Daily (“…Doily”), in May 1938.
Typical pulp magazine (“Horror Chaparral”), January 1941.
Various campus publications (“Minor Publications Number”), June 1942.
Life (“Like”), May 1943.
Esquire (“Chappie”), May 1945.
The American Weekly (“…Weakly”), in May 1946.
San Francisco Call-Bulletin (“Drofnats Bull-Calletin”), in May 1946.
Typical pulp magazine (“Pithy Pulp”), January 1947.
Vogue (“Vague”), March 1949.
Fortune (“Fawchun”), March 1950.
Ladies’ Home Journal (“Ladies Prone Journal”), March 1951.
The American Weekly (“…Weakly”), in May 1951.
Life (“Lite”), March 12, 1952.
The Stanford Daily (“…Dilly”), in May 1952.
Modern Screen (“Maudlin Screen”), March 1953.
Saturday Evening Post (“Saturday Evening Pile”), March 10, 1954.
Look (“Lurk”), March 9, 1955.
Life (“Li_e”), March 14, 1956.
Holiday (“Hodilay”), April 1957.
The Stanford Daily (“The Stanfraud Daily”), February 5, 1958.
Sports Illustrated (“Sports Frustrated”), April 30, 1958.
True (“Tube”), April 1959.
Saturday Evening Post (“Wednesday Morning Pile”), April 27, 1960.
Playboy (“Layboy”), May 1961.
The Stanford Daily, May 18, 1962.
This Week (“Dis Week”), June 1963.
Campus Voice (“Pompous Voice”), November 1963 [local magazine].
The Stanford Daily, April 1965.
Playboy (“Layboy”), June 1965.
Typical men’s adventure magazine (“Groin”), May 1967.
Time, May 1968 [mostly non-parody content].
Campus Report, March 1973 [Stanford faculty and staff weekly].
The Stanford Daily, Nov. 23, 1974 [distributed at Cal game].
The Stanford Daily (“Stanford Daily Wednesday”), April 7, 1976.
Highlights for Children, in November 1978.
Time [from 1984], in November 1979.
Datebook, Spring 1981 [S.F. Chronicle Sunday magazine].
Us (“Blame Us”), in June 1981.
….
The Stanford Daily, June 6, 1990.
The Stanford Daily, March 10, 1994.
San Francisco Chronicle, February 1998.
Typical lifestyle magazine (“Magazine”), March 1999.
National Geographic, April 2002.
“A Pile of Paper,” Spring 2004 [just that].
Typical thriller novel (“Mystery Thriller”), May 2008.
Stanford Daily Magazine, May 2017.
Various campus publications, June 2018  — VCR

(Updated June 12, 2021)

The Harvard Lampoon’s very first “Life,” 1896.

The Harvard Lampoon's first Life parody, 1896.

Parody OfLifeTitle: “Life.” Parody In: Harvard Lampoon.
Date: March 26, 1896 (Vol. 31, no. 1), pp. 10-11. Length: 1 page (on 2 Lampoon pages).
Contributors: W. Ames ’95, J.P. Welch ’97. Availability: Lampoons from the 1890s turn up periodically (pun) on the web; good luck finding specific issues.

Life, a national comic weekly founded by Lampoon graduates, was the perfect target for the very first magazine parody, which appeared in a regular issue in 1896. Later that year the Crimson was parodied for the first time and other magazines were assailed in turn by the ‘Lampy’s Contemporaries’ series.'” — Harvard Lampoon Hundredth Anniversary Issue, February 1976, p. 8.

A page from a real 1896 Life.

The real Life in 1896.

Life the humor magazine — sometimes called “the old Life” — was launched on Jan. 1, 1883 by a group of Harvard grads, two of whom, Edward S. Martin and John Tyler Wheelwright, had helped start the Lampoon seven years earlier. The two magazines stayed close: Life began as a kind of national Lampoon, so to speak, and as Life’s circulation grew the Lampoon began to resemble its offspring.

This displeased the Crimson, which wrote sternly in 1887: “The [Lampoon] is a college paper and should retain its character as such and should not aim to be a cheap copy of a paper that has no more originality or excellence than is found in Life.” The Lampoon echoed the “Crime’s” putdown of Life in the parody’s “Editorial,” which took some nerve: Life had started running one-page parodies of Punch, The New York Tribune and others under the heading “Some of Life’s Contemporaries” in 1885. The Lampoon’s only variation 11 years later was to drop “Some of.”

Two items from the Lampoon's Life.

Two items from the Lampoon’s “Life.”

Unlike its rivals Puck and Judge, which ran full-color political cartoons every week, Life stuck to chaste black and white and affected to be above party politics. Editor John Ames Mitchell advocated Good Government by the Better Sort of People, a kind of Gilded-Age version of Limousine Liberalism. He hated vivisection, child labor, and impoverished English Lords who cynically marry beautiful American heiresses for money. The last is an oddly specific issue, but Life was obsessed with it.

Cartoons from the Lampoon's Life, 1896.

The Lampoon pits Life’s Charles Dana Gibson (left) against Punch’s George du Maurier.

Robert Benchley and Gluyas Williams targeted Life’s foibles in 1911 in the Lampoon’s first issue-length magazine parody, then went on write and draw for the real thing in the ’20s. But when they and other members of Algonquin set moved to a new magazine called The New Yorker, the Lampoon’s affections followed. The Depression killed Life’s ad revenues, and it folded in 1936 after selling its name to Time Inc.’s new picture magazine for $92,000. Thirty-two years later, ‘Poonies Henry Beard, Doug Kenney and Rob Hoffman quarterbacked a parody of that “new” Life, which got them thinking of producing a second national Lampoon. It debuted in April 1970, this time with the “N” capitalized. — VCR

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

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