Liberty (Harvard Lampoon) - April 16, 1931 (44 pages)

Liberty (1924-1950) was a weekly magazine known as "the second greatest magazine in America" behind The Saturday Evening Post.  This lampoon from the boys at Cambridge is labeled "Weekly for Nobody" and "Over 93,000,000 Miles to the Sun."  The lampoon cover is rather strange.  A young girl lies bleeding on a chair and a woman with a large knife is chasing a young gun-toting boy.  This domestic scene is not what you usually expect from a family magazine but I do not see the humor.  It is either extremely ironic or very, very dark humor.  The scene is explained on page 134 ("I Didn't Know It Was Loaded') wherein Mom (Lil) threatened to stab young Red if he shot his sister, Gwendolyn.  Still not funny.

The introductory page promises stories about a steam yacht ("The Malaria"), movie reviews ("Pies and Prairies"), memoir's of a gangster's wife ("Hell" by "Sadie Glutz"), gossip and "the evils of being grabby ("To the Ladies"), the truth about college news ("College Journalism in Journalism") with rips at Princeton, Yale and the Harvard Crimson, and a very short story ("The Lecherous Lament" - eight words).  Also included in the issues are some fake letters ("Vox Pop") another short story ("Dusky Pearls and Swine"), two more memoirs ("How I Got Baron Muchlofen" and "Turns with Worms"), some contests and some ads (some are parodies and some are not).

Certainly, there is a lot of 1931 humor here with Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover being the brunt of many jokes.  I enjoyed the contests: "Liberty is offering $5.98 Apiece for ... what you do with your Snorf" and "Problems of Conduct ... we charge $100 each week for the best question (and) we print the best answers for $200 each week."  Also, I enjoyed the ads - real and parodies although the difference is sometimes hard to tell.

The parody ads are for "Spud - water-soaked Potatoes" ("2000 for 10c"), "Fuzzy's" ("stops goose pimples") and "I-Am-A Foot Waste" (cure for fallen arches).  Equally silly real ads are for "Holeproof Autogarts" (self-supporting socks), "Mississippi Valley Barge Line Company" ("low cost waterway transportation between Cincinnati and New Orleans") and "Rumidor" ("scientific, patented container for ... tobacco").

There is a lot of energy here and the good news is that Harvard Lampoon got better after WWII.  Some of the stories are very hard to follow but then the English/American language has changed over the years.  My best description of Liberty Lampoon (and Literary Digest Lampoon before it) is - humor time machine.  Who am I to say that the 21st century has funnier writers? [JAM 8/17/2009] 

Front cover - Mom with a knife (art by Le's be Rasher)
117 - Spud Water-Soaked Potatoes (ad parody)
118 - Index
120 - Fuzzy's (ad parody)
121 - The Malaria by Raphael Whimsy (drawing by Faxon)
125 - Holeproof Autogarts (ad parody with drawing by Callahan)
126 - Pies and Prairies by Kate Camera
128 - Hell by Sadie Glutz (drawings by Heck)
134 - I Didn't Know It Was Loaded (cover story)
135 - News of the World (drawings by Sidney Carroll)
136 - Vox Pop
138 - College Journalism in America (drawing by E.R. Little)
140 - Dusky Pearls and Swine by Dawn Horowitz
144 - I-Am-A Foot Waste (ad parody)
145 - What Would You Do? by Carrie C. Noyle
146 - How I Got Baron Muchlofen by Elliot Whitehot Springs (drawings by J.M.)
148 - Bright Sayings of Children
149 - Turns with Worms by Wobart Wenchley (drawings by A & P)
Back cover - Arrow Shirts (real ad)