The Last Issue of MAD

There’s a longstanding gag between the editors and writers of MAD: whenever someone submits a premise for an article so risque, so “out there,” or so over-the-top that it’s really unusable, it’s put into the category of “Save it for the LAST ISSUE of MAD” (meaning, the VERY last issue, after the hypothetical time when the corporate weenies will have already decided to pull the plug on the magazine, and literally no one would care how dirty, foul, or in rock-bottom Bad Taste we decide to make the final edition!) At first, writers accidentally stumbled into “Last Issue of MAD”-type submissions. Then, as pressure from the editors increased for us to write “edgier material,” it became a more and more frequent occurence, until finally some of us would intentionally slip into a batch of regular premises, one that was absolutely heinous, sick and/or twisted, solely for the entertainment of the editors. (Well, and to contribute to the ever-growing pile of material for the Last Issue!) Occasionally, we would be shocked and surprised (and remunerated) to see one of these throwaway gag-premises actually make its way into print! Such was the case with my piece “MAD’s Guide to Suicide Etiquette.”

But probably my most “out-there” MAD premise of all time (which almost made it into print) was something I had originally written for the “Bits & Pieces”-humor section of HUSTLER Magazine [Hey, "pride" was never in the vocabulary of this freelance writer!]. It was a take-off on those little phone-sex ads in the back of every skin mag. (Y’know, before The Age of Free Internet Porn.) The idea was “TRUE-to-life Phone Sex Ads,” with photos of nude women holding telephones, beckoning lonely men to call — but, instead of the fantasy sex-world of the real ads, mine would reflect the actual mundane & disappointing love life of the average guy, with such call-in services as:
- “The Married-Sex Line” (“Hurry up and finish! I’ve got a PTA meeting at 7:30!)
- “Fat, Ugly Women who only SOUND sexy over the Phone”
- “Nice Jewish Girls are Waiting for your Call”(“Eeeewww! You want me to do WHAAAT?!!!”)

HUSTLER expressed some interest in it, but ultimately passed. I mentioned this offhandedly in a call to one of the MAD editors, and he said, “Hmmm. Send it to us.” When I picked up my jaw off the floor, I said sure and sent it off to them. Apparently, they were actively considering it for 2 or 3 months. Obviously, they would’ve had to do some major “cleaning up” on the article – nix on the actual nudity, of course; tone down the explicit words; figure out how to “euphemize” various popular sex acts for the pre-pre-pubescent cohort of MAD readers. (I would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall during those editorial meetings!) Finally, alas: they decided they just couldn’t make it work. But, now you know just how far out on the edge they were willing to go. Almost.

(BTW: What better use of this personal platform of mine than to ask all the other MAD writers to send me your own favorite “Last Issue of MAD”-premises — I’ll even change your name to protect the guilty, if you want.)

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