I came across this absolutely insane MAD Magazine collector’s website today, which has cover images and descriptions of literally every issue ever released. And while MAD’s humor doesn’t exactly hold up under my grown-up scrutiny, it had an undeniable impact on my burgeoning comedy-loving brain when I was a kid.
When I was in 4th grade in 1993, I secretly bought MAD Magazine’s Sex and Dating special issue. On the cover, it featured a blond woman sticking her tongue into Alfred E. Newman’s ear and coming out the other side of his head. But the real scandal was the fact that it had the word “SEX” on the cover in big, bold letters.
I hid this issue in my backpack, carefully making sure my parents didn’t see it. Of course, the next day in school I couldn’t resist showing it to some friends at my desk. And the titillating cartoons inside cause mild pandemonium, with a big group gathering around to look at it and squeal with delight.
So my teacher came over, saw what I had, confiscated it and called my parents. We had to have a parent/teacher conference about the lewd materials I had brought into school with me, and everyone was extremely disappointed in me.
And that’s pretty much MAD in a nutshell, right? It was a humor magazine for kids that’s never been all that funny, but they made you feel like you were getting away with something your parents wouldn’t approve of.
So while I thank The Simpsons for turning me on to smart and sophisticated comedy when I was younger, I’ve got to give MAD credit for making me love comedy that feels a little borderline, a little wrong, and maybe something I should be ashamed of. [via]