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Rick Robinson: In Memoriam Alfred E. Neuman (1956 – 2019)

Much of my misspent youth was shaped by Bob Dylan and Alfred E. Neuman. My earliest world view was formed beside a record needle playing albums by the performer formerly known as Zimmerman while thumbing through the latest edition of MAD Magazine

Each month, I battled my mom and dad to spend part of my allowance (35 Cents – CHEAP) on MAD’s monthly collection of sophomoric, politically incorrect humor. My parents detested MAD, which, of course, made me want to read it even more.  

The image of Neuman has existed for nearly a century. MAD Magazine claimed it as its own in 1954 and gave Alfred his name two years later. Since that time, he was the voice of multiple generations that loved laughing at the latest trends from pop culture to politics. Alfred E. Neuman never shied from seeking humor in controversy and was often criticized by the left and the right.   

Nothing was sacred in MAD Magazine and, I suppose, therein lies the reason it ceased publication this week. In a day and age when everybody is outraged by everything, the gap-toothed, never-aging MAD poster boy, Alfred E Neuman, who lived by the tag-line “What? Me Worry?” was no longer socially acceptable. Today, the PC Police worry about everything, including what makes us laugh.   

Alfred E. Neuman is dead and we killed him. Worry is listed as his cause of death. He died for our grins. Long may his memory live.  

As my favorite part of MAD Magazine were the song parodies, in humble tribute to Alfred E. Neuman, I offer "The Day the Humor Died" (sung to the tune of "American Pie").  

A long, long time ago,
I can still remember how,
MAD Mag used to make me smile,
And I knew when Alfred had a chance,
He would make my friends all laugh,
And maybe they'd be happy for a while.

But this July made me shiver,
With the news Alfred E. delivered,
Bad news for our next gaffe,
I couldn't laugh one more laugh.

I can tell you that I cried,
When I heard that Alfred E. had died,
Something touched me deep inside,
The day our humor died.


So,

Bye, bye Mr. Alfred E. guy,
Drove our parents to the limit, now our humor is dry,
Now we’ll miss your face every month that goes by, 
Singin' this'll be the day humor died,
This'll be the day humor died.

Did you spoof “the Book of Love,”
And did you make fun of God above?
If Harvey Kurtzman told you so,
Did you parody songs in rock and roll?
Did you caricature reflect our youthful soul?
But did your laughter finally take its toll?

Well, I know that I still love MAD mag,
But our funny bone is in the bag,
We’ve all have lost our way,
Man, we miss you so today.

I am an older grey-haired, aging man,
With my morning meds and a family van,
But I know I may not laugh again,
The day the humor died. 

I started singin'

Bye, bye Mr. Alfred E. guy,
Drove our parents to the limit, now our humor is dry,
Now we’ll miss your face every month that goes by,
Singin' this'll be the day humor died,
This'll be the day humor died.

I met a gang with a PC hue,
And I asked them for some happy news,
But they just scowled and turned away.

I went down to my old drug store,
Where I'd bought MAD there years before,
But the man there said the there’s no more MAD today.

And in the streets the people screamed,
Cause our laughter died at the hands of thieves,
But not a word was spoken,
Our spirits all were all were broken.

And the man I admire most,
To Alfred E., I’ll raise a toast,
He died ‘cause humor lost its boast,
The day our humor died.

And we were singing,

Bye, bye Mr. Alfred E. guy,
Drove our parents to the limit, now our humor is dry,
Now we’ll miss your face every month that goes by,
Singin' this'll be the day humor died,
This'll be the day humor died.

Rick Robinson’s new political thriller, Opposition Research, is due for release this fall. Like all his novels, it will be available at Joseph Beth in Crestview Hills and on Amazon.

Image via MAD Magazine