Canadian university humour not dead

Our coast to coast review of campus satire

Last month, in true Chicken-Little style, I declared the death of the student newspaper satire issue.

I will admit that my panic was only partly a sincere response to an allegedly controversial spoof issue, which I will not name again here because I’ve already given them a hard enough time. My panic was also a very clever ploy, designed to goad writers and editors of student papers to send me their funniest articles and their best humour issues, so I can post them here to inspire future generations of student humour writers.

I was not disappointed by the goadability (Editor’s note: not a real word) of the student press. Our offices were inundated by responses from literally hundreds of thousands of Canadian student newspapers. We had interns working around the clock sifting through the submissions until my editor pointed out that they were not actually interns, but customers of the café next door who got lost while looking for the washroom and blundered into my office, where they were bullied into working for free.

As a result of the unfortunate emancipation of my interns, I was forced to research this article myself. It was an enjoyable task; it really was. You people are funny. But there was really a lot of stuff, and there are only so many jokes about Catholic sex scandals and the menstrual applications of iPads that a guy can read in a day. Consequently, there’s a chance that I didn’t read every word of every newspaper that was sent to me, nor did I use Wikipedia to puzzle through every pop culture reference and inside joke those newspapers contained.

So if you think your spoof issue was funnier than the ones I’ve posted below, please don’t organize a picket outside of the Maclean’s office at the Rogers Building, One Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto; there’s just the tiniest chance that I overlooked that one nuance of your humour issue that made it funnier than the ones I’ve posted below.

And if you’re easily offended, do both of us a favour and just close this window now. Seriously, there’s nothing innocuous to be had here. It’s pretty much all potentially offensive to those with delicate sensibilities.

Best Sex Columnist: Di Daniels at the Fulcrum.

She’s frankly filthy, but she never gives the impression that she’s saying dirty stuff to show off or get laughs. Her article on how to have better sex foregoes all of the foreplay and intimacy stuff and goes straight to bondage, exhibitionism and group sex. Absolutely filthy — but practical!

Best Shit Disturbing: The Athenaeum, Acadia University.

Their cover story for their April 1 issue this year announced that McDonald’s will be opening in the student union building and take over the food service for the campus pub. Wing night at the pub will be replaced by nugget night. In response to the new McDonald’s, student health plan fees will be increasing next year.

I can only imagine the knee-jerk uproar this caused among students who only read the first half of the article. Well done, Athenaeum.

There’s plenty more good stuff in this issue, and I’d love to send you a link, but the Athenaeum hasn’t updated their website since October ’09, so this one is just for me to enjoy. Or, you guys could wake up, update your website, and my editor will post a link here.

Best Cartoons: Nexus, Camousun College

I’m not going to try to describe these cartoons. You’ll just have to look yourself. The only good way to see them is to follow this link and scroll down to page 15. I first read those cartoons three days ago, and I’m still waking up in the morning, laughing about that cat. That cat made my week. Thank you, Shane Priestley and Cam Wright.

Best Photoshopping: The Gateway`s Metraux Spoof, University of Alberta

There’s actually a lot of great stuff in this issue, but the photoshop of Ann Coulter in a hijab on page 6 takes the cake for me. Too much. The photo is accompanied by an article quoting newly converted Islamic extremist Ann saying, “we should invade the west, kill their socialist leaders, and convert them.” Also worthy of honourable mention is the article, “You will always be a repulsive slob: study” on page 13.

The student editors among you will also want to take the time to admire the Gateway’s advertisers. I swear, these guys must have better ad revenue than Maclean’s.

Best Fake Ads: The Sheaf, University of Saskatchewan

Taking a more principled and independent stand on journalism, the Sheaf’s spoof issue contained no real ads at all, I hope. Instead, they squandered their potential revenue-generating space on ads for underage night at a pub, and the 19th annual skinhead picnic, down at good old Rotary park.

Best Spoof: Martha Student Living by The Fulcrum, University of Ottawa

To really appreciate the design work that went into this masterpiece, you have to download a PDF of the entire issue, and scroll down about a dozen pages to get to the spoof insert. I can only marvel at the discipline it must have taken to write an entire Martha Stewart-style spoof issue, without ever breaking voice or straying from the subject matter.

This issue contains advice on how to throw an elegant kegger, how to decorate your beer bong using stencils and beads, and how to make origami claws so you can unleash your inner Wolverine. To avoid looking haggard on your “walk of shame” home from partying the night before, Martha Student Living suggests placing “cucumber slices on your eyelids 10 minutes before passing out.” To spruce up your dorm, you’re instructed to put potpourri between your garbage bag and the can it sits in, so “your overflowing garbage can will smell like a cornucopia of flowers!”

The cartoon illustration of Martha Stewart with a beer keg dressed up in doilies, ribbons and flowers is reason enough alone to take a look at this one.

Thanks to everyone for submitting their work. There were many articles I laughed at, but didn’t have room to mention here. Keep on fighting the good fight against mediocre humour issues and tired, old jokes.

And if you’re procrastinating and you want more good stuff to read, try this. Or this. Or this!

Graphic courtesy of the Gateway