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A Reading List: The Best College Humor Publications

College humor magazines have been around for literally hundreds of years, with the oldest of these entertainment publications beginning in the late 1800s. For a long time they trafficked in fluffier fare such as innocent parodies, grandpa jokes like “Have you taken a bath?’ ‘No, why, is one missing?’” and other similarly nonsensical written gags that were funny and skillful, but still squarely on the lighter side of the humor spectrum. This shifted during the 1970s when many of these outfits began to satirize on-campus and off-campus events more heavily and inject a more cynical tone, or at least a heightened irreverence, that produced work worthy of the 1970s and early 1980’s circulation hey-day. However, from the long history provided by magazines that are over 100 years old, it is easy to see their popularity is cyclical.

In recent years, many old standards have experienced some resurgence in readership or at the very least received a facelift, and a few new gems have joined the game. These changes are due to a revitalization of energy and interest — possibly stemming from the saturation of acerbic satire in the media with humor sensations like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and The Onion. The last of these started out as a college humor magazine founded by Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Additionally, innovations in design software and the ease of web publishing have increased both what students at college humor magazines are capable of creating and who they are capable of reaching with those creations. READ MORE

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Who Has a Better Secret Past, Don Draper or Robin Scherbatsky?

Duels or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They're useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.

This week? Don Draper v. Robin Scherbatsky in secret pasts.

Over the years, some people have tried to claim that Mad Men is not a comedy. Oh really? It has sexual innuendo, drunk people, fighting, a cranky old boss, workplace hijinks, and most importantly, a case of mistaken identity that leads to an imposter! Ring, ring! “What’s that? Sorry, hilarity can’t come to the phone right now; it’s busy writing an apology note offering to pay for that carpet it ruined when it ensued all over Mad Men.” (Yes, that is a direct quotation from the last time someone called my cell phone looking for hilarity.)

Of course there are also a few dramatic plot points on Mad Men, which is why it holds its own with the comparison to How I Met Your Mother. Each show has a character desperate to keep their true identity, past transgressions, and shameful childhood a secret from everyone. Who is the only person with a past more secret than Don Draper and who also enjoys scotch just as much as him? That’s right, Robin Scherbatsky, the Canadian Metro News 1 reporter who was a one-hit wonder with her killer track “Let’s Go to the Mall.” Don may have switched dog tags with a dead man to get out of Korea, but at least he never did this: READ MORE

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Who's a Better Mother, Roseanne or Donna Reed?

Duels or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They're useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.

This week? Roseanne v. Donna Reed in motherhood.

It’s the Mother’s Day edition of the duels. Here we pit two iconic mothers against one another to find out who is the ultimate. On one side we have a housewife and trained nurse who grew up on a farm, made a fabulous chocolate cake, and occasionally volunteered in the community. On the other side, we have the best hair-sweeper in all of Lanford, Illinois. If this contest were for who can take Halloween so seriously it’s almost creepy, Roseanne would win hands down. However, this is mothering and each of these ladies has a very distinct passion and style that make them pretty evenly matched. READ MORE

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Which Is a Better Restaurant, Central Perk or Monk's Cafe?

Duels, or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They're useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.

This week’s duel? Friends' Central Perk v. Seinfeld's Monk’s Café in Online Reviews.

Central Perk 9/28/1995 ****

I LOVE this café! That blond waitress never gets my order right, but it’s just so charming! I hesitate to give it five stars only because their couches aren’t super-comfortable and the building only has three walls. Plus they charge for wi-fi. Also, what’s wi-fi?

Monk’s Café 11/10/1994 **

I tried this place out because my regular place was full.  I usually go to this other diner down the street, but this one is okay too. I wasn’t blown away and the booths are a little small — you can barely fit four people in them. Reggie’s definitely has bigger booths, but at least I can get an egg-white omelette here. Also, I could’ve sworn that the waitress flipped me off. READ MORE

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Who Would Win at Charades, Leslie Knope or Michael Scott?

Duels or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They're useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.

This week’s duel? Leslie Knope and Michael Gary Scott in charades.

These two physical and mental behemoths clash in the ultimate battle, parlor games. If this were an Iron Chef America competition, then imagine that the secret ingredient is “bacon.” Parlor games are the bacon of dueling. Ironically enough there was one Iron Chef America episode where Bobby Flay lost to Morimoto by using too much bacon when the secret ingredient was, in fact, parlor games. Digressions aside, let’s see what would happen when one proud Hoosier goes head-to-head with a man who is part English, Irish, German, and Scottish, sort of a virtual United Nations. READ MORE

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Who's Better at Working, Ben Wyatt or Henry Pollard?

Duels or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They're useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.

This week? Ben Wyatt v. Henry Pollard in working, (or… Adam Scott v. Adam Scott at jobs.)

Of the seven basic literary conflicts, the most intriguing is certainly “character v. character” — or as the version with which you might be more familiar: “man v. man.” Like “spy vs. spy,” “man v. man” is upsetting at times, but ultimately rewarding because there’s a pretty good chance that something is going to explode. The only thing that would make this conflict better is if one man played both men, thereby adding a pinch of “man v. self” to the battle rouge. According to several studies, there is no ticking time bomb with a nicer head of hair than Adam Scott. So, sit back and get comfortable because you’re about to experience a truckload of man on man action that is likely to end with an extremely masculine explosion. READ MORE

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Who's the World's Worst Father, Frank Reynolds or George Bluth, Sr.?

Duels or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They're useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.

This week?  Frank Reynolds vs. George Bluth Sr. for the title of World’s Worst Father

This week’s duel will leave the mothers out of it. Like a bad call at a championship little league game, this duel pits father against father. As Mary J. Blige once said, “Let’s get crunk cause Mary’s back!!” She also said something about families, which probably applies here too. For the sake of the family, let’s see how these two terrible fathers would stack up against each other. READ MORE

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Who Would Win an American Gladiator Tournament, Ron Swanson or Dwight Schrute?

Duels, or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They're useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.

This week’s duel? Ron Swanson v. Dwight Schrute in an American Gladiator Tournament.

For those not familiar with it, American Gladiators, which ran on television from 1989-1996, was a reality TV competition pitting amateur athletes against the program’s Gladiators. The male Gladiators were named as though their parents were meteorologists, insane, or most likely both. Some of the popular men were Cyclone, Flash, Nitro, Quake, Turbo, Hawk, Thor #1 and Thor #2. The female Gladiators were named for their favorite pitch-declined Disney Characters that were inspired by exotic dancers: Ice, Gold, Diamond, Flame, Panther, Tigra, Jazz #1, Jazz #2 (which I always thought was a boy’s name), as well as, Lace #1 and #2. The competition sent the challengers through a ringer of obstacles and events that challenged their strength, endurance, and tolerance for vinyl-coated foam. READ MORE

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Who Would Win a Words With Friends Game, Jess Day or Abed Nadir?

Duels, or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They're useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.

This Week? Jess Day and Abed Nadir play Words With Friends

Things will heat up quickly with these two wordsmiths in the joint. Abed tries to use “cool” more than once. Repeatedly. But Jess doesn’t stop him, because rules give her blinding optical migraines and she literally can’t see three feet in front of herself. Luckily, Zynga, maker of Words with Friends or ‘Friends — as it’s known by those who are streets ahead — does care a lot about rules. “CoolCoolCool” is denied. Word. READ MORE

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Who Would Be a Better Crime Fighter, Gloria Pritchett or Phoebe Buffay?

Duels or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They're useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.

This week? Gloria Pritchett v. Phoebe Buffay at Crime-Fighting

These two tremendous characters from comedy ensemble casts have more than what it takes to catch (or be) a thief. They are smart, foxy, and fearless.  Give them a fedora and they’d catch all the prime suspects. In other words, they would be the top casting choice for the new series: Law and Order: TPU, or Tertiary Plot Unit. But what if they were competing head to head for top detective? Let’s take a look how that might go down. READ MORE

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Who Wins a Fashion Walk-Off, Tom Haverford or Kelly Kapoor?

Duels or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They're useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.

This week? Tom Haverford v. Kelly Kapoor in a Fashion Walk-off.

“I love rivalries. Michael or Jim. Paris or Nicole. Heidi or LC. It's so much fun. But, I guess if I'm really thinking about it and answering your question honestly, I'd have to go with LC. Heidi's a bad friend. And her skin, is terrible.” – Kelly Kapoor

I love rivalries too, and this one is about the most rivalrous sport of all: fashion. These two fashionistas don’t need Heidi Klum to tell them how to dress (well, maybe Bravo! Heidi Klum, but no thanks, Lifetime Heidi Klum). Both of these sartorialists know “what’s crackin’, boo” and they will aggressively attempt to pierce your ear in a workplace bathroom — whether you want them to do so or not.  This is not about stupid crap like Star Wars, meetings, or whatever NATO is. This is about fashion. As Billy Zane would say, “It’s a walk-off”. READ MORE

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Who Would Win in a Republican Primary, Jack Donaghy or Alex P. Keaton?

Duels or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They're useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.

This week: Jack Donaghy v. Alex P. Keaton in a Republican primary.

It goes without saying that these two men are financial masterminds, with nothing lacking in the confidence department. The confidence is at least partly justified; both men were precocious and preternaturally talented as children. Alex was an economic wunderkind — with his Nixon rattle and dollar sign mobile — doing his parents taxes at age five. Jack was a sports hero on his ice hockey team and also a talented flutist. Sadly, his mother once forced him to combine these talents and play the “Star Spangled Banner” on the flute in front of his hockey team in Sadchester, Massachusetts. An electoral race between these two heavy-hitters would pull out all the stops. Let’s take a look at how they stack up. READ MORE

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Who Would Win an Eating Contest, Liz Lemon or Ron Swanson?

Duels, or “classy showdowns” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. Duels have played a major part in American history. Little known fact? The Lincoln-Douglas debates, The Bush-Gore election and The Thomas Crown Affair were all settled via a duel. So were the last three American Gladiators championships, and some of the most famous arguments between banjos.

Duels are useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel?  Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills.  Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.

This week: Ron Swanson v.  Liz Lemon in an eating contest. READ MORE