The comedy world has definitely begun to dip its toes into the crowdfunding pool—Myq Kaplan ran this satirical campaign, Eugene Mirman funded a festival, and Above Average now has a ‘Thingstarter’ series—but through all my research for our AOL show Funded, I never found anybody from the comedy world who had full-on cannonballed into the scene in any remarkable way.
If you’ve already watched the video embedded above, you know that search is over. Some of our friends at AdultSwim.com have launched a campaign for a comedy ’zine that from video to description to fulfillment prizes* is easily the most absurd and incredible crowdfunding campaign we’ve ever seen.
Two years ago, then working alongside Baratunde, Craig, and I at The Onion, John Harris compiled a comedy ’zine called Pendulous Breasts Quarterly. Given the fact that John is one of the smartest, most hilarious people I’ve ever encountered and that he’s well connected within the humor writing world, it’s little surprise that the ’zine immediately became one of my most treasured comedy keepsakes**.
Flash forward to 2013, and John wanted to compile a second edition (“Madame Bainbridge’s Compendium Of Primo Dong”) but he turned to crowdfunding this time instead of floating the entire project himself. Which brings us to the present. John has a little more than $1,600 to raise in 11 days, and then the world can be graced by another incredible collection of writing, art and cartoons from people who spend their days working for The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, Community, 30 Rock, Kroll Show, Late Nite with Jimmy Fallon, Adult Swim, The Onion, The New Yorker, and yes, even Cultivated Wit***.
I emailed briefly with John this week to gather a little something extra for you fine readers of our blog, because everybody knows that Q&As are the sprinkles of the blogging universe. But before that, just to avoid any confusion, I would like to directly urge you to GO SUPPORT THIS PROJECT. And give enough money to secure yourself a copy of the ’zine. This blog post isn’t going anywhere, but the clock is ticking on that campaign. So go give some money, and then come back for the sprinkles.
Hello, John. Isn’t this formal? Pray tell, what was the initial inspiration for this ’zine.
George Meyer’s Army Man ‘zine from the ’80s, is the short answer. I felt like nothing approaching that quality (at least, that I knew of) had been done since then. Also, I wanted to make something funny that wasn’t dependent on advertising dollars or profit or whatever else. Just something that exists for its own sake.
How did you fund that first edition, and how did that affect your approach to doing another?
I dipped well into my savings to print the first edition, and I never fully recouped. I probably wouldn’t have done a second issue if not for the rise in popularity of crowdfunding, because I could not have afforded to pay for the printing expenses again, at least to the scale at which I wanted to do it.
You’ve read and reviewed all the contents of this new PBQ, can you share even the teeniest of teeny tiny teasers?
Here is a short story by Gary Oldman that will appear in the new issue, based on Hemingway’s saddest-six-word story:
Fuck Off, Hemingway
“Hello, Alive Babies Magazine? Cancellations please.”
You’re right in the middle of it now, 11 days to go, what’s your take on the Kickstarter experience? Considering this process and the process you used last time, what’s your take on it especially as it pertains to creatives/artists getting their work out there into the world?
I think the crowdfunding thing is great, in terms of direct interest. If enough people agree with your idea, it gets funded, if not, it doesn’t. Obviously, it’s definitely not a complete meritocracy, but the logic behind it seems sound.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, who is the prettiest little baby bear you know?
Damn right I am.
*The mani/pedi and duck dinner prizes are great, but two weeks ago Baratunde and I were wishing we had enough money to buy the lone, five-foot-by-three-foot copy of the ’zine offered for $7,500.
**Aside from a treasured keepsake, that first edition is also a monumental source of bitterness and self-loathing. I never pitched anything because I felt too busy, but after it came out and I saw how incredible everything in there was, needless to say I felt more than a tiny tinge of regret.
***Fortunately, I learned my lesson. I wrote about a piece about a zoo and I couldn’t be more thrilled to know that this edition will not bring me intense pangs of remorse.