What, Them Worry?

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"This culture has become coarser, because of South Park, which could thrive because of Howard Stern, which could thrive because of something else prior to him that pushed the envelope," Meglin says. "Because we reflect all those changes, Mad has become coarser, so I see an evolution, and this is hard for me to convince people of, but in some cases, I see us doing work that is superior to what we used to do. My frustration comes in that our readership was so much larger then; our exposure was greater then than now. I want to say, 'Hey, people, remember us? We're better now. Take a look!' Aside from the coarse things, which I personally don't like, there's always been a place for all these voices. Personally, I am not comfortable with this."

"If Nick did not work here," Ficarra says, "he would not be an audience we're writing for. At all. Although, Nick, one of your favorite features is 'Monroe,' which is very funny but one of the edgier things we do. I think everybody has different lines in the sand about what they find objectionable. Someone may find doggy-doo jokes objectionable; someone else may be really put off by death humor. But all of these things are in Mad, and everyone will be turned off by one particular thing, and hopefully, we balance it out so if you don't like one thing, you can turn the page and get something else coming at ya. For every doggy-doo gag, there's a Shakespeare takeoff."

"Yeah," says Meglin, "like Hamlet walking in dog shit."

Ficarra doesn't waste the set-up line. "Feces or not feces," he says, giggling. "That is the question."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky