The Coolest Thing Ever: Weird Al Guest Edits MAD Magazine

If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.

If I could time travel and ask my middle-school self what the coolest collaboration of all time would be, middle-school me would probably say “Beastie Boys as playable characters on NBA Jam!” In response, I’d reach back into my time machine for a magazine I’d brought with me (not just because zipping through wormholes can be kind of monotonous), then I’d roll up that magazine and whack my middle-school self with it and tell him, “No, dummy, this is the coolest collaboration of all time.” Then I’d watch as he stared in awe of the latest issue of MAD Magazine guest edited by “Weird Al” Yankovic.

I’m sure my younger self’s jaw would drop (I was kind of a mouth breather) as he read the letters to the editor, all of which were addressed to and answered by “Weird Al.” And then he’d immediately jump to the MAD fold-in, which he’d bend so as not to damage the cover, to discover that even that had been infiltrated by the king of pop parodies. But, ever skeptical, when he’d thumb through the rest of the magazine (which includes pages of bad parody ideas from “Weird Al’s” journal, as well as other contributions from his friends like Patton Oswalt and Kristen Schaal) he’d get confused and say, “ Wait a second…there are ads in here. MAD Magazine doesn’t have ads in it!” At that point, I’d gently rest a hand on his shoulder (which would probably spark or something because space-time is like that) and say, “The future is a dark and humorless place. Pay attention in math class or you’ll wind up a slave in the lit mag mines of Brooklyn.”

Then I’d snatch the magazine from him before he ruined it (like everything else my younger self always ruined) and hop back in my time machine and head back to 2015 before they missed me in the lit mag mines. On the trip back to the future (again, boring) I’d marvel at how amazing it is for two entities to find travel across the universe and find each other: issue #533 is the first issue of MAD with a guest editor, or, as “Weird Al” puts it, the first time anyone was fool enough to accept the job. Upon arriving back at the present, I’m sure I’d have another epiphany: Beastie Boys characters for NBA Jam really would have been the coolest thing ever.

Weird Al mad magazine
Weird Al mad magazine
Weird Al mad magazine
Weird Al mad magazine

More Like This

7 Books to Generate Sad Serotonin

Emily Austin, author of “Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead,” recommends books that will make you feel happy to be sad

Jul 5 - Emily Austin

I’m the Telephone in “Goodnight Moon”—Why Didn’t I Get Wished Goodnight?

You say goodnight to “nobody”? Nobody!? That doesn’t even rhyme!

Jun 18 - Julie Vick and Sarah Garfinkel

“Humans of New York,” But Make It the End Times

The only things that will survive the apocalypse are cockroaches and "Humans of New York" books

Apr 2 - Caitlin Kunkel and Elly Lonon
Thank You!