Less than a month into the Trump Administration and Mad Magazine’s Usual Gang of Idiots is exhausted.
“There is terrible, horrible Trump fatigue at the Mad offices! We are soooooo sick of doing Trump stuff,” says editor John Ficarra. “But it’s very clear from magazine sales and blog post numbers that our readers want us to satirize him. And, as senior editor Joe Raiola is fond of saying, ‘There’s nothing wrong with giving the people what they want.’ “
Fortunately for comedy writers, this administration has brought its own gang of idiots, who provide a swirling cesspool of nuggets.
“Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, and Steve Bannon continue to give us areas of great material, so we don’t have to always go after Trump directly,” says Ficarra. “How the Republican party has pretty much bent over for anything he has said or done gives us fodder. Likewise, how the Democrats respond or don’t respond will also give us some opportunity for material.”
The upcoming issue—out digitally on Friday and in print Feb. 21—showcases that sleight of little hand with a cover teasing, “No Trump in This Issue!” plus gags that include the Presidential Seal Twitter bird and a Goosebumps for Millennials take on children’s horror books, with themes like student debt and upcoming recession. December’s 20 Dumbest issue cover featured mascot Alfred E Neuman throwing up in a Make America Great hat. “No Trump, but the message was clear.”
Mad has also adjusted punchlines over time—first going after Trump hair and showmanship, followed by his inflammatory rhetoric on the campaign trail. “Now that he’s President, the game has shifted once again,” says Ficarra. “It’s much more serious because what he says and does now can have real consequences.”
Despite occasional accusations to the contrary, “we don’t really have a political agenda, we just go after the person in power and the stupid things he or she does,” he says.
“The question I get most asked these days is, ‘How do we satirize Trump when he’s a parody of himself to begin with?’” adds Ficarra. “It ain’t easy. We do the best we can in the time we have and hope we’ve made a point. My goal for 2017 is to have Trump tweet something nasty about us. I have my mother making a novena about it.”