There’s a memorable scene in the “Tricks and Treats” episode of Freaks and Geeks in which an English teacher berates her young students for doing book reports on titles like the novelization of Star Wars and Al Jaffee’s Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.
When I heard the name of the latter title announced, a knowing smile crept across my face — in fifth grade I too wrote a report about the book that was received pretty much the same way. I’m sure I’m not alone. You see, that paperback introduction to the wonderful world of sarcasm has been a schoolyard staple since it was first published in 1975 as a spin-off of Jaffee’s popular Mad feature.
While the aforementioned snarkfest remains my personal favorite of Jaffee’s works, there is no doubt that his greatest contribution to the magazine — and pop culture in general — is the Mad Fold-In. Since 1964 the interactive joke has been closing out each issue of Mad, and each and every one of these gags has been written and illustrated by Jaffee. As the decades have progressed the publication has withered into an edgeless shell of its former self, yet the Fold-Ins have remained sharp and hilarious.
At the age of 90, Jaffee’s wit and talent continues to inspire fans and contemporaries alike. So it is something of a profound honor to have him visiting the Gershman Y this week. Joined by biographer Mary-Lou Weisman (author of the insightful Al Jaffee’s Mad Life), the cartoonist/humorist will be on hand to discuss his work as well as his childhood in which his family fled from their home in Lithuania to the U.S. when Hitler ascended to power.
If you attend, expect to hold court with a true living legend. And if you decide to ask him a question, make it a good one or prepare to suffer the humiliating consequences…
Al Jaffee @ The Gershman Y
Tuesday, January 17th at 7pm. $8 to attend/$22 to attend & receive an autographed copy of Al Jaffee’s Mad Life.
The Gershman Y
401 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147