Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Comedy Histories: Beat it, Kid!

I'm always on the lookout for satiric pop culture from the past. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up this comedy photo book at an estate sale. It consists entirely of photos from early in the 1968 presidential election, paired with satiric dialogue balloons. It's a simple book, cheaply assembled, but it was made by an impressive editorial line up: compiled by Harvey Kurtzman, with the help of Chuck Alverson, Lynn Ashby, Burt Bernstein, Dick Gibbons, Larry Siegel, and Gloria Steinem. Yes, that Gloria Steinem.

In 1968, I was still five years away from being born. Looking through this book, it is really striking to think about what would occur that year, especially the assassinations of RFK and MLK. Judging by the satiric content of this book, it's obvious such events were incomprehensible then as well.

A couple of things become clear about the editorial staff's attitudes toward the various Democrats and Republicans as you read through the photos. 1. They thought Bobby Kennedy was going to win. Unfortunately, one reason we know this is because there are several photo/jokes made about LBJ wanting to shoot him. So, this is also a book that ultimately ended up being in much worse taste than it ever intended. In fact, I'm sure the publisher quickly destroyed what hadn't already been sold.

2. They thought Richard Nixon was a joke. 

Ah, well. History. You can find a whole lot more of these photos on my comedyhistories tumblr here.

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