National Lampoon "non-jokes"
April 24, 2008 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone remember "Non-Jokes" from National Lampoon magazine?

Ok, as a teenager, I discovered National Lampoon magazine in perhaps 1987 or 1988, and hardly missed an issue for several years. It was amazing that I could buy it at any store, even though it had a lot of nudity and adult themes (this was pre-internet porn days, so porn was hard to come by - pardon the pun - in Newfoundland, at that time).

Anyhoooo, I remember reading one issue in particular where there was a small article with a series of "non-jokes", one of which went something like "our family was so poor, we could only afford a blue car". Oddly that is the only one I remember, and certainly not the funniest of the lot... my cousins and I laughed ourselves nearly sick with that issue, and I'd love to track it down again.

So today I bought the complete National Lampoon magazine archive on DVD, but it is not searchable, so while I will continue to browse each issue, I was wondering if there are any National Lampoon fans here who might help me narrow the search. I'm guessing it's an issue from anywhere between 1988 and 1994...

Any help would be appreciated! I need to find this article to scratch a very annoying brain itch :)
posted by newfers to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've never read NL or seen this feature, but there's a reference to "non-jokes" in the TOC of issue #17. So I'd start there and then look in nearby issues.
posted by jejune at 2:15 PM on April 24, 2008

You know, I remember that gag as well, but I saw it in Mad magazine-- late 80's/early 90's. Stuff like, "I went to a school so tough, our yearbook was shaped like a canoe!" and each joke had a distorted photo of a headshot to go along with it.

Odd- I wonder if the writer switched camps at some point?
posted by Dr-Baa at 2:16 PM on April 24, 2008

From the "Canadian Supplement" in August 1971, Vol. 1, No. 17: Canada's "Rye" Sense of Humour, Acollection of Canadianized non-jokes. Not your timeframe but otherwise sounds right. Did you have any old issues around between 88 and 94 that you might be rememebering from?

Also, you might query the owner of this site. First google hit on "national lampoon" + non-jokes
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:16 PM on April 24, 2008

also, the complete collection DVD is not searchable? Wow.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:17 PM on April 24, 2008

Yeah, I found the reference to non-jokes in the 1971 issue, but that's the year I was born, and unlikely to be what I saw, unless, perhaps, it was re-used in a later issue. Hmmm, I will check that out.

As for the "shaped like a canoe" line, that kinda stuff really tickles my funny bone! Love that sort of absurdist nonsense.
posted by newfers at 2:19 PM on April 24, 2008

Ok, just browsed the Canadian Supplement, and though funny (even to me, a Canadian!), it does not contain the series of non-jokes I was seeking.
posted by newfers at 2:27 PM on April 24, 2008

While I don't know the issue, I recall the website Something Awful having a feature on "Jokes with realistic endings."
posted by LSK at 2:37 PM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Fans of non-jokes might appreciate this entry from McSweeneys:

How do you brainwash a blonde?
A rigorous schedule of psychologically breaking down their confidence and resistance to outside suggestion."

And this is somewhat interesting as well:
posted by abkadefgee at 2:39 PM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

This McSweeney's entry by Andy Richter has some of my favorite "non-jokes."
posted by mullacc at 2:45 PM on April 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

See also broken jokes.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:56 PM on April 24, 2008

I have the 'No-Joke-Jokes' MAD Magazine Article in hand. I uh... I just do, ok?

Found on Page 20 of the MAD XL #2 from March 2000. The writer for the article is Fred Stoller, and the artist Marshall Vandruff. It doesn't indicate if this is a reprint or not from an earlier edition, but from what you are all indicating, this is an old idea that they rehashed for this printing. The article I have has the distorted heads thing that Dr-Baa referred to.

This is the write up they give. I assume they are referring to this Fred Stoller?:
"Fred Stoller is not only a stand up comic, but a pioneer in the humor biz. In his comedy laboratory he has developed a special kind of witticism called the "No-Joke Joke". A "No-Joke Joke" is a joke that, upon first hearing it, you'll think that you have just heard a joke and, in fact you'll probably laugh. However on closer examination, analysis and scrutiny you'll realize that it actually wasn't a joke at all. Indeed, it merely sounded like a joke. With this in mind, we advise reading this article aloud to a loved one so you can get the maximum amount of pleasure obtainable."

In the MAD Magazine article, these are the jokes they give... not sure if they match the National Lampoon article?

The town was so small, the Ferris wheel was painted green!

She was so fat, her sister worked for the phone company!

I come from a town so small, the hooker wore a helmet!

I went out with this girl that was so fat, I didn't know whether to take her to a movie or to a Met game!

My wife talks so much, when she coughs it costs me $22!

Our town was so small, the police precinct had a screen door!

She's so fat that when she leaves a nude beach, she has to show a receipt!

My school was so rough, the yearbook was shaped like a canoe!
posted by billy_the_punk at 4:49 PM on April 24, 2008 [5 favorites]

billy_the_punk, THANKS for posting those...I laughed so hard that I thought my head was gonna explode. But do you suppose Mad and National Lampoon might have shared that same sort of article? I was not reading Mad at that point in time (oddly enough, at age 37, I have a subscription again!).

But, hoo boy, that kinda stuff just make me LAUUUUUGH. I will continue searching my Lampoon archives (and yes indeed, they are NOT searchable...the mags are in .pdf format, but not searchable at all...ugh!).

Thank you so much again, billy.. you are a god!
posted by newfers at 7:27 PM on April 24, 2008

Glad to be of service. The article was literally at my elbow. I went on a 'reading old comic books' binge recently, and that was at the top of the stack.

This is the kinda thing metafilter is for. ;)
posted by billy_the_punk at 8:11 PM on April 24, 2008

That's still not the actual article I read in my teen years, but it's the same sort of humor, and gave me the same reaction. I will continue to seek out the original article, and will post info here if I find it.
posted by newfers at 2:23 AM on April 25, 2008

There's a short chapter on "jokes that aren't funny" in John Hodgman's "The Areas of My Expertise" that is worth the price of the entire book.
posted by jbickers at 2:54 AM on April 25, 2008

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