The first person I ever thought was smart enough to be funny was my older brother. He was whip fast with his wit and circumstantial snark. He let me peek into his big brother world of boyhood trivialities. I followed close behind every footstep my brother took as he sneaked downstairs late at night to watch the standup specials on Comedy Central. He would find raunchy comedians on this new website called youtube. I always felt on the cutting edge of the middle school cultural stratosphere having those key scandalous suggestions for my friends.

My brother begrudgingly shared these nuggets of humor with me. The wacky cover of Mad Magazine first made its appearance in my house circa the early 2000’s with my brother’s name attached to it. An aunt had given him a subscription to the magazine as a holiday present. It was the first piece of mail that he had gotten with his name on, taking his sense of ownership over it to a whole new level. This was highbrow comedy to us, and Max was the authoritative arbiter of the humor. In order to gain access to the magazine’s contents, I would have to breech my brother’s security system. Left in a different hiding spot every month, the hunt for the magazine became another dimension of my subconscious search for humor. I had to work for it and seek it out.

The biggest moment that spurred my obsession with the magazine was its Harry Potter issues. Here was this social phenomenon that was still unfolding in my youth. Books were still being released every year and the movies were breaking box office records upon their debuts. This series dominated talk at the lunch tables and poolsides, for those dedicated enough to plunge into the wizarding world. Everyone had this serious view of it, but I on the other hand started to read the books with a more satirical tone, because of exposure to Mad Magazine. I had begun to see the absurdity I could draw out of certain threads of the story, retelling them in jest to my friends. Suddenly I had a fresh funny take about these characters that seemed so familiar to my peers. This skill gave me a reputation as a class clown, a reputation I am still trying to maintain.

Mad Magazine taught me the important social impact satire could cause. By taking something serious, morphing it slightly into a funnier tone, you can bring bigger truths about the story being told and the culture in which it is being read. Mad Magazine punched up, often landing harsh blows on our nation’s leaders. In the sensitive and scared post 9/11 world, Mad was brave enough to keep satire alive. Reading Mad, I learned about world events through an inherently critical eye. In order to make fun of something, Mad Magazine and I thought, its pretty important first to fully understand the issue. Reading Mad regularly cultivated my viewing preferences, leading me to shows that were satirically critical, like the Daily Show with John Stewart or more recently This Week Tonight with Jon Oliver. Mad Magazine developed the way I process information about the world around me. I don’t want to say that it changed my life, but it defiantly set me on a funny person’s path.

Thanks Mad Magazine for all of the laugh