SDCC 2014: Interview with Mad Magazine’s Editor in Chief, John Ficarra


Mad Magazine has been tickling my funny bones my entire life. In fact, most of our parents grew up reading the pop culture satire. Today, traditions continue as Mad goes strong in the age of pop culture and reality TV, pulling more jokes than ever before. I got to chat with Editor in Chief of Mad Magazine, John Ficarra, about what’s to expect next!

Nerd Reactor: So Mad Magazine, I am a fan. My mom’s a fan. You’ve been working on it since 1984, I believe? 

John Ficarra: 1980

NR: 1980 . So my whole life, I have been reading your Mad Magazine! That’s pretty epic.

John: So you’re trying to make me feel old now.

NR: No No. Me and She-Ra are the same age, we’re good. So, for new Mad Magazine readers, what can they expect, and what can bring them in right now?

John: I think they’d be surprised if they opened up Mad, because I think for a very long time, Mad was the same product every month. It was the same artists, same writers, same take on things. And really, Mad has gone 21st century. First of all, it’s in full color, which is something it never was. There’s a lot more attitude to it. Snarky. It certainly reflects the times better. And, part of that is because we have a blog that we update with daily content too. So we can really respond very quickly to things that happen.

NR: So keeping the jokes updated. 

John: Absolutely, yeah. We also have a digital version now. We can do interactive things, it’s great. Like on the iPad you can do the fold and swipe with your finger or you could fold your iPad, but only once.

NR: Yeah, don’t because then it’s done. Super done.

John: They’re coming down in price. So if you break it, just buy another one.

NR: So the latest issue we have Kim and Kanye monster mash-up. Are we going to see anymore celebrities?

John: Well, the rumors are that they are breaking up. There’s also a rumor that Beyonce and Jay Z are breaking up. So they’re the gift that keeps on giving to comedy writers. And they are just always over the top. I’ll tell you from a comedy writing point of view, it’s harder to make fun of the things they do, because it’s so over the top, it’s so ludicrous, it’s like where are we going with this.  But, somehow they manage to find a way.

NR: So, a lot of inspiration is always in pop culture.

John: Always pop culture. Always politics. There’s always another corrupt politician to make fun of. There’s always another idiot in the White House.  There’s always stupid decisions. And, you know another thing we try to zero in on is Americana – the family unit and the things that happen in a family. That everybody goes through and brings reality to it.

NR: So ideal age reader….do you think everybody can enjoy Mad Magazine now?

John: It’s funny. We never did a demographic survey and then in 2000, we decide to take ads, so we did the first one. The average age of our readers is 24 and the median age is 19, but they did these mall intercepts. You know where they stop you in the mall and they ask you if you are interested. If you say yes, they take you downstairs and give you 10 bucks for answering 20 questions or whatever it is. They had five different age groups and every age group thought that the magazine was written for them and that it was appropriate for them. So part of that is that we layer it in. One page, there might be some political satire where you have to really know what’s going on in Washington to get it. But on the next page, there may be a fart joke. You know, we’re not afraid to be stupid about smart things. And we’re not afraid to be smart and bring the readers up. If you didn’t know who the person we are making fun of is, then maybe you’ll find out who it is and it’ll work for you.

NR: That’s what I like about Mad Magazine. My nieces and I can read it and my mom reads it. I read it and I love it.

John: I appreciate that.

NR: So what’s coming up in the next issue?

John: Next issue is the “50 Worst Things About Food”, which actually came out very good. But, what I most excited about, it’s not in the very next issue, but the issue after that. We’re doing Orange is the New Black. We’re going to do House of Cards before that debuts for the next season. So all of these.

NR: It’s almost a special Netflix issue.

John: So we’re trying to. There are all these interesting things. We did True Detective. Stuff like that, that really is in the eye of pop culture. So grab a snack and head to the newsstand to get the latest Mad Magazine issue “50 Worst Things About Food”. Visit Mad Magazine for the up to the minute giggles!

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