The October 1975 issue of Mad Magazine featured the spot-on parody Muddle on the Orient Express, one of hundreds of movie and TV show spoofs the magazine ran in its 67-year history.

The Editor’s Desk: What, me sad?

The announcement that Mad Magazine is shutting down marks the end of an era

The news that Mad Magazine would be shutting down permanently — an announcement that came, perhaps fittingly, on the 4th of July — filled me with sadness. It’s many years since I was a regular reader of the magazine, but it was a milestone in my life: my first real taste of satire, of comedy that skirted the edge of bad taste (and sometimes crossed over it), and of the realization that no one in public life was — or should be — beyond being held to account by having their follies and foibles mercilessly skewered.

I first came across Mad around 1972, when I was nine years old, and for the next few years would snatch up each issue as soon as it hit the newsstand. My favourite features were the spot-on send-ups of movies and TV shows of the day, with their clever plays on the titles, their beautifully detailed illustrations, and their take-no-prisoners approach to skewering pomposity and preposterousness.

I have in front of me issue No. 178 from October 1975, with the tagline “In this issue we wreck Godfather II & Orient Express”. I was by that time a huge Agatha Christie fan, and relished Mad’s version of the movie based on one of her most famous books, which writer Lou Silverstone rechristened (fittingly, given the convoluted plot) Muddle on the Orient Express.

Re-reading it today, the parody is as fresh and funny as it was more than 40 years ago. “Ahh, my friend, I know what you are thinking,” eccentric — and long-winded — detective Hercules Pirouette says to a companion after a dead body has been discovered. “You are thinking: how lucky you are that I happen to be a passenger on your train!” “Actually, I was thinking: Why couldn’t Sherlock Holmes have been a passenger instead?” the man replies. When he examines the dead man’s train compartment, with its plethora of incriminating pieces of evidence, Pirouette mutters “Clues … clues … there are so many clues, I may save some for my next case!” (It’s a testament to the influence Mad had on me that to this day, I use the “So many clues” line when presented with a multitude of items that need to be dealt with.)

Why did I say that it was perhaps fitting that the announcement of Mad’s end came on the 4th of July? Because although it looked like a comic book, Mad held an unflinching mirror up to the sacred cows of American politics. No one was safe, from the president on down, and Mad’s writers and artists — the self-styled “usual gang of idiots” — didn’t hesitate to point out idiocy, recklessness, pomposity, stupidity, and cupidity wherever they saw it (and they saw it a lot). Some of it undoubtedly sailed over my head — in the early 1970s I wasn’t particularly au fait with the American political scene — but I had learned enough to recognize clever, pointed, and intelligent satire when I saw it.

This reminds me of another reason I loved Mad: its refusal to dumb things down and hold readers’ hands. All involved assumed that readers would be smart enough to keep up; hence a feature, in that October 1975 issue, called “Zappers That History Forgot”, in which famous figures from history say a line for which they’re famous and then get taken down by an observer.

“We shall fight them in the fields; we shall fight them in the cities; we shall fight them in the villages!” says Winston Churchill in one of the entries, to which an aide replies “I say! Have you ever thought of fighting them in GERMANY?!?” None of the figures were identified; readers were expected to know who they were. If you didn’t? Here was a great chance to learn.

Mad took on everyone and everything, pointing out the absurdity of everyday life in a way that was fresh, accessible, funny, and shrewd. The most recent issue I have — from August 2012 — shows that the magazine was as irreverent and funny as always, carrying on its commitment to “warts and all” coverage of popular culture, politics, social trends, and more. It’s a shame that the magazine is folding when, more than ever, that voice is needed. What, me worry? I’ll try not to.



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

$10,000 for Gold Rush Trails marketing video and Billie Bouchie Day celebrations

‘We were very impressed by the calibre of both projects’

First Responders hockey match a great night on and off the ice

‘My face was still hurting from smiling and laughing so much’

Ashcroft closer to getting two Level 2 EV charging stations

Town will be part of a network of charging stations in central and northern B.C.

Campaign aims to end the stigma that still surrounds dementia

Ashcroft resident speaks out about taking care of someone with dementia

One man dead after police-involved shooting near Lytton

Two other people in the residence were evacuated safely

VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

Most Read