College Parodies (Will and Martin Lieberson) - Ballantine Books 1961 (255 pages)

Before there was a television in every home, people received most of their information from newspapers and magazines.  These periodicals were published in distinctive and familiar styles known to everyone.

Parodies of the print media have occurred throughout history nearly as long as the existence of Johannes Gutenberg's movable type.  The astute historian could also find examples of parodies in the calligraphic style of Buddhist monks and Franciscan friars, as well as the woodcuts that preceded type.  However, the "Golden Age" of periodical parody started when Tom Brokaw's "greatest generation" invaded the college campuses of America.

Although radio and cinema were established art forms, technology had not reached the point that students could reproduce the form and content to reach their target audience.  Magazines became the prime media of their mirth.  It was natural for student journalists to convert college publications into wonderful spoofs of establishment's familiar periodicals.

The Golden Age really began as America's best and brightest returned from World War II to college campuses with a level of optimism and a sense of social connectivity as high as any since the founding fathers broke away from the monarchy.

The parody form had been introduced before the U.S. involvement in the war by Lampoon, the humor publication of Harvard University which was named for the principal benefactor, English clergyman John Harvard.  Two of the Harvard Lampoon pre-war parody editions (The New Yorker - 1939 and Lampy's Home Journal - 1940) are included in the Liebersons study of college parodies.

Following Lampoon were similar parodies by the Yale Record (Le Nouveau Yorkeur), the Michigan Gargoyle (The New Yahker) and The Columbia Jester (The Laddies' Home Journal).  The cover of Laddies' Home Journal features a cross-eyed woman with a fur moustache and promises stories: "Marsh Drainage in Chevy Chase" and "15 Years on the Erie Canal."  Subjects of the stories and gossip columns are generally obscure and trivial.  The best of the stories is "Pretty Mouth and Bald My Head" by "J.D. S-l-ng-r" wherein we learn that Stella is touchy as hell about her jujubes.  Other New Yorker-style stories involve the pending divorce of Humbert and Alice who have a maid who reads Double Bubble and Raoul Brooks (of the Brooks Brothers) who does not have a mole on his shoulder.

The Journal discusses "ceramics of the Papuan element of the Southern Malayan Archipelago" and tells us how to "introduce him to the door and slam your parents."  Other stories feature parents who give money to disobedient children, nine-year-old Freddie who drinks bourbon, the Wilsons who cheat at Canasta, rover Jerry who could not resist husking bees, Janet who lost her elm seedlings, Everett who has strange chirping noises emanating from his pelvic girdle, and one of the twins who is a full-blooded Indian.

Other magazines referenced in College Parodies are Lurk (Stanford), Sanitary Review (Columbia), Sports Illiterate (Yale), Hodilay (Stanford), Daily News (Yale), Tube (Stanford), Tale (Yale), Troe, (Purdue), Konfidential (Syracuse), Liff (Columbia), Play Boy (Cornell), Payboy (Illinois),  Timf (Ohio State), Saturday Evening Pile (Stanford) Reader's Dijest (Columbia), Saturday Evening Pest (Penn), Esquirt (Yale), Newsweek (Harvard) and Smut (Yale). [JAM archive]