America's First Successful Humor Magazine
They invented some emoticons.
Puck was the first successful humor magazine in the United States. When originally published in 1877 it was 16 pages long and sold for 16 cents, which is 16 cents more than Americans are currently willing to pay for jokes.
Puck mostly traded in political satire until, in 1916, William Randolph Hearst bought it, cut the political stuff, focused on social fads, and subsequently lost the subscription base. Hearst, who had been a satirical target of Puck, shuttered it two years later, when the magazine was a shell of its former self. Good thing that doesn’t happen anymore.
Among other things, Puck were early adopters of the emoticon.
They also spent a certain amount of time imagining what Teddy Roosevelt would look like as a naked baby.
As it happens, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 8 years looking at naked babies and this is not what their feet look like. Those, my friends, are man feet.
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But while Puck was cutting-edge for its time, the contemporary reader may struggle to access the humor. This may further fill one with a sense of loss, a tingling awareness of the remoteness of the past.
To give you, our readers, a sense of what Puck was all about, I have put on my editor’s eyeshade and sleeve-garters, and tastefully spruced up a typically scathing piece from 1896. My aim is to employ as light a touch as possible while still making the piece accessible to modern sensibilities.
You’ll hopefully barely notice my edits on this attack on William Jennings Bryan on the subject of his 1896 presidential run:
Two insanity experts have lately studied Mr. Bryan with a view to determining the precise angle of his mental obliquity. Both agree that he is
suffering from mental disordersfucking nuts, though neither is positive that he could be declared insane in a medical or a legal sense. We say: fuck that! His hereditary history, it seems, is highly suggestive. It is related that his father, who was a Judge in Southern Illinois, used to get down upon his knees and pray for divine guidancebefore rendering his decisions. When a decision was reversed, the elder Bryan insisted that the Supreme Court of Illinois had reversed God and not him. What a fucking lunatic! This belief that his mental processes were superintended by the Almighty seems to have been inherited by the—get this!—his motherfucking son. He is further afflicted with multiloquence and a swollen and highly inflamed egotismscrotum. He scorns the advice of tried political leaders and will have none of their methods. The people can be saved alone through him, and only then upon condition that they have faith in their power to double the price of silver, whatever the fuck that means.
Hopefully that gives you a motherfucking taste of what Puck was all about, motherfuckers.
IT’S 251 TIME
Here’s the latest from twofiftyone.net:
And, finally, Jeff Kulik gives us “Describing My Novel to an Agent.” Here’s how he starts:
So it’s the future, and there’s this dystopian government. No freedom. They can put you in jail just for thinking, man. Everyone’s divided into groups, or something like that. They fight for the entertainment of these sort of bad guys. Then, one man stands up for everyone’s rights. Just as a placeholder, I’m calling him Chris Pratt.
So, this Chris Pratt, he’s just like you or me, except that he’s special. But you can relate to him because he’s got, like, doubts. Then he meets this girl. As a placeholder, I’m calling her Scarlett Johanssen. Now, she’s basically his opposite but they join forces, and they realize they can defeat the bad guys. The government. Whatever. We should probably reach out to Chris when he’s between projects. And after I finish writing the book, I guess.
Please read the whole thing over at the site.
That’s it from me! Oh, and did you read Gerber’s email from last week yet?
You really should. More from him on Friday. Pershan, out.