When I was 20, I was politely asked to leave college for a semester. Turns out not only did the school want my parent’s tuition, but also expected me to perform to a certain standard. I know, lame.
And since I was heavily involved in not getting laid or being cool, you would have thought I had a ton of time to study. And I guess I did. But I didn’t. Study, that is.
So, I went home, very ashamed of the predicament I was in – an intelligent person failing out of college. Not exactly going on the top of the Paris family Christmas letter.
When I came back to school the next semester, and for the rest of the years there, I pulled nearly all As, and was even asked to represent the school in a leadership conference. I turned out okay.
But during that semester off, I decided to pursue my passion of writing comedy. My heroes all wrote for National Lampoon, but that magazine was all but defunct by the mid 90s. The internet wasn’t really much of anything, so there weren’t great humor sites.
Then one day I was at a friend’s house, and this was the kind of friend who casually kept Hustler magazines laying around. Truth be told, I can’t even look at a Hustler - it’s way too extreme for me. From a psychological perspective, I get “totally skeeved out.” At least I think that “skeeve” is in the DSM IV. Maybe I’m wrong.
And, since I get grossed out easily, I could hardly stand to look at it. But man, they did have some amazing cartoons.
The one that got me to realize I could become a cartoonist was this…
It was a single panel cartoon (like The Far Side) but broken up into about 16 panels. Each panel showed a man’s face, with his eyes in a different position. Eyes went up, down, side to side, closed, etc.
The caption? ”The Christopher Reeves Macarena”
Now, aside from that being incredibly offensive (he was alive at the time), it also was pretty damned funny. At least to me and the cretins that read Hustler.
So, I started writing single panel gags. But I can’t draw. And I never found a cartoonist. I’m calling these…
- Scene : Grocery Store
- Description : Row of berries with three separate segments. They all look the same. There are signs that stick out of the segmented berries.
- Punchline : First sign says “Blueberries.” Second sign says “Raspberries.” Third sign says “Dingleberries.” A woman looks at the aisle quizzically with her shopping cart.
- Commentary : Wow, that is pretty poor, even for my standards. But at the time I thought it was genius. The idea of little balls of poop being sold at the supermarket next to fruit just made me laugh. Oh well…
- Scene : Video Store (remember those?)
- Description : Wall of a video store, with a segment in between two sections. A little girl, with a video in her hand is pulling the coat of a man in a trenchcoat who is reaching for a video.
- Punchline : The girl’s video section has a sign that says “Disney.” The man’s section (right next to it) says, “Porn.” The caption underneath the cartoon is the little girl saying, “Whatcha renting?” to the stranger.
- Commentary : This joke is better. The juxtaposition and absurdity of a video store owner putting the adult and children’s section next to each other is solid. Also, the idea of being shamed by a little girl is awesome.
- Scene : Set of The Empire Strikes Back
- Description : Chewbacca is reading a script entitled “The Empire Strikes Back.” There are crew members milling around backstage.
- Punchline : Thought bubble coming from Chewbacca that says, “What the fuck? They cut my sex scene with Leia? They hate me…” Underneath the cartoon is the caption, “The Empire Strikes Back Script – Second Revision.”
- Commentary : Hmm – not that great. The idea that George Lucas would write a wookie-human sex scene seemed really funny to me, and that Chewbacca would assume that he was disliked the scene was pulled made me laugh. Probably just me.