Gone are the days where one could walk down the street, pick up a physical copy of The Onion, finger through a couple pages, and enjoy a laugh that sounded more like a scream.
That isn't to say that we don't have easy access to mind-blowing satire. Culture-skewering machines like Clickhole, Reductress, Starwipe, Above Average, Funny or Die News, McSweeney’s and The Onion keep us gasping at our laptops everyday while we pretend to have jobs. Good comedy isn't hard to find, but I don't think I'm breaking news when I say that humor is shrinking with our attention spans.
Most of our gut-busting content lives and dies by the tweet it's attached to, or whatever humorists can put in that box to make you stop scrolling down your feed. Best-case scenario, you stop scrolling long enough to smirk at the title, NOT read the article, send it to your friend, and keep scrolling.
Janice Magazine, an illustration and humor magazine in the style of The New Yorker (if The New Yorker just grew boobs and wanted to tell everybody about it) hopes to be the antidote to our disposable attitude towards comedy. The creators/contributors for Janice are Upright Citizens Brigade mainstays Ryan Haney and Matthew Brian Cohen with art by New York Times' Maëlle Doliveux. Currently, they're running a Kickstarter to fund the release of their second print issue. The cover of the first issue can be seen below and its contents can be read here. If nothing else, check out "A Review of the Playstation 4 and My Own Wasted Potential" or "Time to Take Action Against Climate Change Without Letting Earth Getting All Cocky About It."
The Huffington Post spoke with Ryan, Matthew, and Maëlle about their decision to commit to print, and why making something great is better than trying to break the Internet.
The tone is Clickhole but more pointed. Correct?
RYAN HANEY: Yeah, totally. We were aiming for that sweet spot between McSweeney's/New Yorker and Clickhole. Finding that happy medium of doing something pointed but with a cruder path to it.
MAËLLE DOLIVEUX: I feel like it’s The New Yorker for our generation. Is that fair to say?
RH: We describe it as The New Yorker but slightly fucked. I always forget the name of the guy on the cover of The New Yorker.
MD: Eustace Tilley.
RH: Yes, Janice is like Eustace Tilley after a good slogging.
You are Kickstarting a print issue of Janice. Why did you decide to do a hard copy?
RH: There are just so many things grabbing your attention online, so we wanted to create this weird little world around this strange publication and have you sit in that for a while. We try to build things up with the crossword, letters to the editor, and the gag cartoon. We choose a theme for every issue. We wanted people to hang out, explore, and see all the weird hidden treasures. We thought having it in print was the best way to highlight all that.
When you read an Onion article, you're swept up into the world and maybe that’s because we used to pick up paper copies of The Onion off the street. The Onion was right there next to the regular newspapers! For free!
MD: I think it works for The Onion because it’s news. And these articles aren’t very long. They’re brief and understandable within minutes. The longest article in the newest Janice issue is insane and it’s 10 pages long and it’s my favorite. It’s impossible for the Internet. They'd see how short their scrollbar is and they'd go "Oh, gosh! I’ll read it later." But then you never get to it. With the magazine, you can put it down and pick it up later or just make the time for it. It’s great and weird!
RH: I refer to Janice as semi-hallucinatory, hard-boiled erotic noir.
MD: I think that’s super accurate.
I love that. What’s the plan after this print issue comes out?
MD: I would love to keep making hard copies. I'd also like to send Janice to people who would get a kick out of it and hopefully want to be involved. I think it would be interesting to get even more variety and voices. Also I'd love to start working on the art with other artists. So it’s not just me.
Maëlle, you do all the art for Janice. What's the process for that? Do you do whatever you want or do you create art based on the articles?
MD: They just let me do my thing.
RH: You don’t want to spoil the broth.
MD: It's daunting, so I send it to people I look up to in order to make sure it’s good. We hope to put these out four times a year. I think it would be great to start working with more comic artists for the interiors.
Another important thing you guys landed on was: “What if we just made a funny thing?” Everything doesn’t have to break the Internet. What happened to making something because you love it and you think it’s funny? Why is that naïve?
MD: This sounds very pretentious but all the comedy in the print copies are timeless. Haha! I said it. It’s timeless! Not in a way that’s super vague to the point where it’s not interesting but in a way that it’s specific and eternal. I really think people will be able to pick up this copy in 10 years and find some really funny things. I think there’s a tendency with comedy where you read it once and then you get it so you don’t go back to it. I didn’t feel that way with the writing in Janice.
MATTHEW BRIAN COHEN: Janice harkens back to the Army Man magazines. The people writing for Janice are the next wave of comedy. People need to get their copies now before they become collector’s items.
RH: My hope is that Janice becomes a place where funny people can come and get their "ya-yas" out. Not to rag on the Internet but it puts a lot of bread on a lot of tables. Meaning, it's a job. So I hope Janice becomes a place where really funny people can do that idea that’s been in the back of their head. Let their freak flag fly.
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