If you're the kind of person who has time to read The New Yorker cover to cover, then you'll appreciate this delightfully meta, magazine-length satire.
The Neu Jorker, a passion project from co-editors James Folta and Andrew Lipstein, not only lampoons the magazine's poetry, reviews and sections like Goings On About Town and Shouts & Murmurs, but also the kind of ads you find in a publication like The New Yorker.
It's the kind of wonderfully weird project that takes months to get right. (For what it's worth, the A.V. Club says it deserves a Pulitzer.)
AdFreak: How did you guys come up with this idea? Why do it?
Lipstein: James and I love The New Yorker. And sometimes when you love something so much, you have to dedicate a good period of time to making a cover-to-cover digital satire of it. Really, it was just an idea that popped into existence, and all of a sudden we were doing it, and then we did it.
Folta: Andrew and I connected because we were nerds for comedy and for books, so the natural center of the Venn diagram was an unwieldy project that took half a year and a million emails to pull off. The true genesis did feel pretty spontaneous before it gathered its own momentum. The idea seemed like a great way to showcase a lot of good people. It also always felt like one of those "Why not?" ideas.
How long did it take?
Lipstein: Around New Year's we talked it over, and then soon we had all the pieces assigned, and very gradually, over about five months, the thing came together from scraps into one cohesive public object. Oh, so five months is the answer to that.
Folta: I might add that digesting The New Yorker for almost a decade probably helped, too.
Tell me about the parody ads. Who wrote those, and what are they based on?
Lipstein: We treated the ads like any piece in the magazine—asking the right people if they'd want to do one, trying to share a bit of our vision for it. The New Yorker ads are so trope-y, it was almost too easy. Luxury cars, incredibly bad hats, bad books, good books, investment services, off-market prescription pills, musicals. It's one of the most consistent parts of their magazine.
The contributors that did the ads—you can find them at the bottom of the Table of Contents—each ran with them in their own unique way. And we're extremely grateful to have so many talented and unique voices on display.
Folta: The whole project, ads included, started with a long list of every single thing that goes into an issue, which was then doled out to different writers, illustrators and designers. The general themes of the content and the typical ads were pre-determined by what we saw in The New Yorker.
We also were adamant and precise about the tone of the parody right from the start. We always wanted the satire to hew as close as possible to the real thing—our mantra to contributors was, "Aim to pass." The ads were no exception. But other than that, the copy and design were all our contributors' good work.
Why are a good chunk of the ads about animals?
Lipstein: I think this is really more about the communal consciousness, kindred spirits, lost prophets, and black magic—er, lost prophets especially. Stephen Unckles did the last ad, the Equestrian ad, which is receiving its own amount of attention (see below). The woman in that shot is Kathleen Jordan, Stephen's partner, who very well may be actually afraid of horses. She also contributed a few hilarious pieces for the magazine.
Folta: Oh, whoa. I read this question and immediately flipped back through the ads and there are a lot of animals. I wish I could say, "Oh, that was the group zoo trip we all took," but I guess it is some kind of group-think.
There might be something to be spun out of considering whether animals are considered inherently funny in our culture? Or that the mapping of animals onto the human world or otherwise juxtaposing them with us makes us giggle? Could be!