Tag Archives: Humor Magazine

Crowdfunded Comedy: Reviving Print Humor with The American Bystander

The Annual wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for crowdfunding, so we aim to boost up other comedic projects whenever possible.

 The American Bystander is a new humor magazine that came to publication following a successful Kickstarter campaign last November. They’re just about finished with the second issue and need your help to bring it to print. Last week we spoke to Michael Gerber, a founder and publisher of The American Bystander.

In your publisher’s letter from Issue 1 of The American Bystander you wrote “It isn’t even really a magazine. This is willfully re-launching the Titanic, knowing full well it will sink…” Do you still feel this way going into issue two?

Well, it’s funny because people have asked about that. I was partly trying to play against type because those letters are like the statement of principles in Citizen Kane. A guy sits down and scrawls the way that they’re going to change the world, and I really felt like that was not the right mindset to be going into this with. The first thing that you should know about me is that I’ve been trying to do a magazine like this since I was 22 years old and I’m 46 now. I’ve seen them come and go and I know a lot about how The [National] Lampoon worked.

Maybe five years ago, I heard from a friend of a friend that Rob Hoffman, one of the three people who founded The National Lampoon, was very ill and was probably going to die. So I called him up out of the blue, he didn’t know me from anybody, and I called him up and said “Mr. Hoffman, I just want to thank you because nobody knows that you were the person who put together the money, put together the deal, worked with Matty [Simmons] to get it all set up so Henry [Beard] and Doug [Kenney] could do their work. Nobody knows how important you were” The difference between The Lampoon and every other humor magazine before and since has been someone like Rob Hoffman at the front.

I’m no Rob Hoffman but I guess I wanted to say in that letter that we want this to turn into whatever our readers want it to turn into. If that means that it’s a grand success and has a lot of money to spend and heralds in a new golden age of this material, great! If it turns out to be just one issue or two issues, that’s okay, too. Because we’re really just following what the audience seems to want.

Issue #1 of The American Bystander
Issue #1 of The American Bystander

The typical way that people do this is they come up with a business plan and a way of repeating what the Lampoon guys did, which is pump it up into something huge and sell out after five years or whatever, and walk away never having to work again. That’s a very contemporary way of looking at things; “I’m going to start a humor magazine so I can get rich.” That’s not how Punch was started; that’s not how Mad Magazine was started. For anything that lasts over a decade you have to have a different kind of attitude. So I was poking fun at that vain, glorious situation. But I was also trying to check myself to sort of say “the point of this isn’t in five years to have The American Bystander’s version of Animal House. The point is to follow our staffers and say what do you want to do? What’s interesting and challenging? What does the world need? Not what can we sell for a big pay day.” We know what that is and we know it’s what already exists out there. It’s the lowest common-denominator stuff. By saying that, I want to say to us on a managing side and to the contributors: Look, we don’t expect to walk away millionaires from this. We expect to make beautiful stuff and that’s what we expect from you. And that’s what we expect from our readers too. We want them to enjoy it on that level, not be perceived as something we’re selling to advertisers. Their attention and their eyeballs. That’s very different than a corporate magazine or a corporate website, and I want to start out with that idea.

Continue reading Crowdfunded Comedy: Reviving Print Humor with The American Bystander

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Losers to the Left: Donald Trump’s Debate Rider

To the good people at FOX News,

First and foremost, I’d like to thank you all for treating my candidate with the respect he deserves. You’re among the few news outlets willing to cover Trump under the umbrella of politics, and you’ve got the balls to bring him back to prime-time. With that in mind, my candidate has a formidable background in television production, from The Apprentice to the Miss Universe Beauty Pageants, he knows how to put on a show and simply will not appear on your political pageant unless the following demands are met:

  • Trump is to be placed center stage behind a golden podium emblazoned with “TRUMP” so there is no mistake as to who the king is and where he belongs, front and center.
  • For a nominal fee, Donald Trump is willing to finance the construction of similar TRUMP brand podiums for other prime-time candidates.
  • Dr. Ben Carson is to be placed to the right of Donald Trump to bolster the image that he has black friends.
  • Senator Marco Rubio is to be placed as far away from Trump as possible.
  • It is strongly encouraged that a great wall be built between Rubio and Trump
  • Marco Rubio is to present an American Birth Certificate at the time of the debate as the candidate is concerned that he may be yet another rapist from across the border.
  • Donald Trump will only drink the purest spring water in the world, as such, he is to be provided with a case of Trump Ice Spring Water.
  • Donald Trump will provide Trump Ice Spring Water for all other candidates to consume during the debate.
  • Debate Moderators are to be fitted with complimentary Trump Collection Suits, in exchange, moderators will not discuss the use of foreign labor used to hand sew Trump brand suits and ties.
  • Donald Trump will allow debate moderators to join him on his private island for the thrill of hunting the most dangerous game, provided they stray from the topic of Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump’s love for big game hunting.
  • Donald Trump is to have the first and last say on all issues foreign and domestic.
  • No one outside of Trump’s immediate campaign team may touch him, this includes handshakes.
  • Air conditioners and fans are to be disabled and windows are to be shut to minimize breeze.
  • The venue is to provide one orphan for the purpose of shining the candidate’s shoes.

We greatly appreciate your cooperation and would like to offer our production services for future debates.

Corey Lewandowski
Trump 2016 Campaign Manager

Can We Talk?

That question-turned-iconic catchphrase never needed an answer. Audiences knew that roaring laughter, potential incontinence, and moments of, “Am I allowed to laugh at that?” were sure to ensue.

On September 4th, 2014, the world lost an incredible talent. The late, the great, the often-irate Joan Rivers stands among the ranks of Phyllis Diller, Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, and other legends who broke through the walls of the Boys’ Club and paved the way for generations of comediennes to come. She hit the stand up circuit and set it on fire. With her rapid-fire wit and dynamic physicality she was plucked up into the world of television. Those in front and behind the camera loved her instantly. She was bold, challenging everything female comedians were expected to be. She addressed things no one else was talking about. She had no fear or shame when told she was taking it too far. If anything, that fueled her on further.

She became the darling of The Tonight Show and Johnny Carson declared that she was destined for stardom. For over twenty years, she wrote for and appeared on the show. She continued to perform her standup, everywhere from closet-sized clubs to major big-city comedy venues. In 1986, the launch of The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, though short-lived, marked her place in history as the first woman with her own late show on a principal network. The rest of her career consisted of more rises and falls than the breasts of a jogging Kim Kardashian. Joan was fiercely dedicated to her career; determined to book work, whether it was working a huge television gig or simply a few days on a cruise ship. She wrote constantly; plays, books, new routines. Every joke she ever wrote was recorded on an index card and stored in a giant filing system. There’s no doubt that she was as sharp as her tongue. Her mind was always ahead of her words, her responses quick and on point, and her performances were just as impressive and affecting in her last years as they were from the start.

The role of public image in Joan’s life was much like my digestive system after a late night Taco Bell run. Sometimes your satisfied stomach adores you, other times that bastard organ betrays you and damns you to wallow in agony and regret. Plastic surgery became her obsession, and after a number of procedures people began likening her to a freak show attraction. One of the most important things a comedian, celebrity, or anyone really, can learn is to develop a thick skin. Joan’s was thicker than the layers of makeup she put on everyday before being seeing anyone. That toughness, that ability to keep her head held high is something I’ve always admired. All physical traits aside, her public image was and remains highly contested. Some people adore her as a queen of comedy or just enjoy hearing a sassy older woman talking about her vagina. Her lack of self-censorship led many people to view her as a terrible person. I never met her. I can’t judge the content of her character. I can’t judge the contents of her closet because they probably cost more than my college education. She did say offensive things (and I mean really) offensive things. She would be the first to admit that. I won’t even try to separate what was belief from what was performance, because I’m not qualified to judge.

The Joan Rivers I will always remember was a huge inspiration to me. As an aspiring comedian/comedienne/I’ll-go-by-whatever-you’ll-pay-me-for, I studied her performances, her stand up, her everything, because her stamina, fast-talking wit, explosive shouting, and exaggerated use of body and face are right up my alley. If she, along with the other leading ladies of laughter, had not dared to break the walls of the boys’ club, I’d likely be too intimidated to pursue a career in comedy. She had a dream, to be a performer, and let nothing stand in her way. She had the tenacity to keep going, going, going until she made it happen. She refused to let the industry change her, though the backlash often cost opportunities or burned bridges. Her strength was undeniable. You wouldn’t believe how much she could bench press (emotionally). I could certainly use a dose of her confidence when it comes to moving past failure and embracing new possibilities. She often mentioned that she wanted to keep working, keep entertaining, and keep performing until she died. It’s a comfort to know she succeeded, but it’s hard not to think there was more she might have done.

I look up to Joan posthumously. She always insisted that she wanted her funeral to be a grand, ridiculously over the top celebration. She hoped that people would laugh. Still working, still entertaining, still caring. A devoted mother and grandmother, she leaves behind a family, of blood but also of love, who still feel the effects of her presence in their lives. For all of the laughter lines you’ve given to the world and times you’ve made me think, “Someday, I want to be up on that stage, talking about my vagina,” I thank you.

Joan Rivers will not be forgotten. I like to think that she won’t let us. I like to think that ghosts exist, even if only for her. Imagine ecto-Joan Fashion Police-ing everywhere she floats. She can finally get close enough to spot all of the panty lines.

Oh, and as for the haters? You’d better watch out. You know she’s going to be haunting ALL OF YOU.

Hannah Gutman

Back In My Day: #NotAllTrains

Following the recent Amtrak collision in Pennsylvania, I’ve seen a lot of folks taking a negative attitude towards the great American railway. This is truly saddening. It’s as if this bad incident has prompted people to suddenly recall their stories about relatives who have been struck by trains, former hobos who’ve lost legs to runaway freighters, and commuters trapped in the unforgiving doorways of the DC Metro. But it’s important that we remember how good trains can be.

I have had many wonderful experiences with trains. Not only are trains more efficient than driving, they span the nation. Every train is different: some have hard seats, some are spacious and incredibly comfortable, and some have dining cars replete with fine cocktails. My family and I have been on many trains, and not once were treated with disrespect or deprived of our luggage. Our country was built on railways, and if it weren’t for freight trains, we wouldn’t have any of the modern conveniences we enjoy today.

Though the recent crash in Pennsylvania is troubling, I find the actions of those in the area to be even worse. I have read reports that something had hit the windshield of the train in question, as well as the windshield of a similar Amtrak train traveling through the area an hour prior to the crash. It is entirely possible that, agitated by local hooligans, the conductor feared for his life and sped up to nearly double the limit in an attempt to save  the passengers on board.

Before millennials start boycotting trains until “safety standards are enforced and improved,” maybe they should step back and consider what good trains have done for this country.


GilesGiles Fisher (Guest Contributor)

Giles is a prominent member of the Falls Church Assisted Living community. He is well read, with over 38 books currently in his room and over one hundred in storage. Giles used to keep a model train set in his basement.

Sad New Yorker: The Void

SN01

Recently The New Yorker started circulating this comic on social media, and I decided it was time to live out my unrealized dream creating depressing New Yorker comics. So I hope you will all come to love our newest and saddest addition to The Annual.

Kevin Cole

Click here to purchase our newest issue!

Issue #12 Now Available!

After mild anticipation following our announcement two weeks ago, issue 12 of The Annual (the first of our final four) is now available in our web store! It’s a very limited run with only about 20 copies remaining, so get yours before they’re gone!


This issue features our interviews with Rich Fulcher and Nick Vatterott as well as the truth about what really happened to Andy Kaufman. Learn about black superheroes and what The Virgin Mary really looked like shortly after giving birth to Jesus.

    

This episode features writing from:

Kevin Cole

Briana Haynie

Giovanni Kavota

David Luna

Christine McQuaid

Purchase your copy today to have quality laughs shipped straight to your mailbox!

Back In My Day – President Frankenstein

For the majority of my life I have been under the impression that we were to hold our presidential candidates to a higher standard than the average joe out on the street. However, the latest announcement from Mr. Dr. Benjamin Carson has made it clear to me that times have changed. The GOP has clearly shown a lack of judgment by allowing anyone to toss their hat into the ring. Dr. Carson fancies himself to be a neurosurgeon, a brain scientist for those millennials who are following politics but fail to recognize how one medical procedure can effectively shift the course of human events. Given this man’s comprehensive knowledge of the human brain, we must ask, what is he capable of?

Let’s start in 1987, when Carson separated a pair of conjoined twins, fused at the back of the head. Those twins were happily when along came this so called “doctor” with a thirst for success, eager to play god. A living symbol of unity, created as god intended. Dr. Carson, however, saw them as freaks, set out separate the two and did so successfully. Driven by his own ego, Carson gave the world a glimpse of his freakish medicinal power.

Ben Carson also helped to create and regularly performed the hemispherectomy, a surgery that involves the removal of an entire hemisphere of the brain. This is supposedly used to control severe cases of epilepsy but I am not fooled. This man’s overall knowledge of both the body and brain presents a dangerous reality. As we all know, thanks to Obama, our healthcare is in the hands of the government and under a Carson administration he would be given free reign to perform his sick experiments, excuse me, “procedures” on anyone he wishes. The nation will be his operating table. What happens when the elderly are given mandatory ice pick lobotomies in an effort to preserve their youth? What should happen if Carson’s loved ones parish? Will he simply harvest new body parts from the lower class, use it to house the brain of his nephew and then hoist it high above the white house on a stormy night in order to breathe new life into them?

If Dr. Ben Carson is at all interested in preserving this country, he needs to take a stand and answer these questions. Carson must step forward and make it clear that he will maintain the national tradition of putting politics before science, no matter the cause. We do not need a Dr. President Carson (or a President Dr. Carson, whatever the preferred term may be) telling us how to properly live our lives. If he wants to recommend “life saving procedures” that will scramble our brains and cause us all to think the same way, then he ought to do so as the Surgeon General, where such recommendations can be ignored. Otherwise, he will want to scrub the title “Doctor” from his name if he hopes to have any chance of victory.


GilesGiles Fisher (Guest Contributor)

Giles is a prominent member of the Falls Church Assisted Living community. He is well read, with over 38 books currently in his room and over one hundred in storage. Giles recently underwent pancreatic surgery for what his children tell him “is his own good.”