“People ask me what it’s like to work at MAD,” said John Ficarra, current editor-in-chief of MAD Magazine, the long-running satirical publication which taught generations of skeptical teens to question false idols, push back at deceptive advertising, and mock authority figures. “It is a job. We come in every morning and we sit and there’s blood on the walls trying to come up with an idea that we can agree on as funny.”
The image is appropriately potrzebie, but there was no actual blood on the walls when Gothamist visited MAD Magazine headquarters last month to take a tour of the place (we also spent some time speaking with 95-year-old journeyman cartoonist Al Jaffee). The place was a little barren, if anything: MAD had recently relocated offices in Midtown Manhattan, and pieces from the MADtropolitan Museum Of Art (giant parody paintings featuring the likes of Donald “Birther King” Trump, Bill Clinton, and Alfred E. Neuman as Mona Lisa) were still spread out on the floor along the walls.
Although the company has over 150 current freelance writers and artists at this point, including a core of 50 regulars (some of whom, like Jaffee, have been there since the magazine’s inception in the 1950s), there were only a few key staff members onsite when we visited. It was a far cry from the zany Veeblefetzer that many MAD readers may have imagined in their youth—it would have been a disappointment to Bart Simpson, who stared in awe when he got a peek behind the MAD curtain in the classic season nine The Simpsons episode, “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson.”