The half-wit and wisdom of Alfred E. Neuman lampoons Donald Trump's current presidential campaign for 2016 in the upcoming MAD Magazine #537. In an exclusive interview with MStars News, Editor-in-chief of MAD, John Ficarra lets loose on the annual "20 Dumbest People, Events and Things" list.
As we previously mentioned, the cover of the "MAD 20" features the dumbest people, the stupidest events, and most ridiculous things that actually came out of 2015. The hialrious cover happens to be graced by none other than The Donald himself, sharing the stoplight with the infamous MAD's mascot. If you look closely at glossy cover, Neuman sports the unmistakable Trump hairdo.
Before issue #537 hits newsstands everywhere on December 15, Ficarra reveals how the issue came together, choosing 2015's biggest moments in pop-culture for the hysterical list, and what made the The Apprentice reality star become the perfect candidate to spoof on the cover.
MStars News: Tell me of how the annual 20 dumbest list for 2015 came about.
John Ficarra: Well this is something that we have been doing, I guess, for about 12 years now and it's a slow building process. Every January 1st, I start a new word document, and every day we come in, and say, "Who did something dumb today?" And we add on to the list, you know. Sometimes it's a very long list. This past year was a very long list, but you know as time goes on, stuff that we thought would be really big sort of just drops off people's radar. And some of the stuff we didn't think would be that big just gains momentum.
So I guess around June, mid-June, or early July, I'll stop looking at the list, calling it, and I sendout the list to our freelance writers, I say, "Alright, here's the stuff we think is going to be on the 20 dumbest list!" And of course, we're adding to it right up until press time.
MS: Tell me how you picked Donald Trump for the cover?
JF: You know, there was at times, we would just sit and fight all among the staff for hours who should be number one. And this year, there was no fight. Trump won it in a cake walk. I hope that's not true about the election too! He just continues to earn the cover every day. So we're pretty confident in our selection this year.
JF: It's his whole demeanor. It's his whole fact-free campaign. It's him basically. That there's no substance to it. He thinks that because he's somehow was this reality star builder, that he can run the greatest nation and most powerful nation in the world, with the same sort of dictatorial luster and showmanship is pretty dumb.
MS: Tell me about how you and the writers chose Brian Williams and Hillary Clinton (like in the image above) and mixed them them with pop culture references?
JF: Well, we'll look at a number of ideas. That wasn't the only idea we had for Brian Williams. If I had a better memory, I could tell you something that I didn't use. But when we start the process, we'll be getting ideas from all over the country, from the writers, and also the editorial staff.
And I have a big board. I'll put post-its up with all the ideas. And as we start to dwindle them down, we'll look for visual impact. If we think what we're going to do, makes the better comic. You know so it's always a tradeoff. Well if I don't make a better comic, it's just a page of type, nobody's going to want to look at it the same way as bam! The big high impact poster! So that's always the tradeoff we make going down. And believe it or not, we do have some editorial integrity! We try to make it a fair comic, not just a cheap shot. But we are not above making a cheap shot every now and then, more now actually.
MS: With everything that is going on in 2015, have you started planning for 2016?
JF: Well, we hold it to the rule, that it has to take place in the year. So stories going on now might continue and make the list in 2016. But until January 1st, I won't start the list. I mean there was some late things that happened that I wished I could've gotten in that I wish we did.
One of the biggest ones was that GM settled their suit about the airbags to 900 million dollars, but nobody went to jail. There was like, you know, 125 people they knew died from that. And yet some guy down I think in Arkansas let salmonella get into his product. 9 people died and I think he went away for 30 years. So I guess the lesson from is that if you're a big powerful corporation, but if you're some little guy, you know pack your bags! You're going to a grey bar hotel for a long time! So the whole dumb equity of our judicial system is something I would have liked to have done.
MS: What is it that you want readers to come away with after reading this particular issue with Donald Trump on the cover?
JF: Well hopefully, they'll have an impressionable experience! That they'll laugh and hopefully it'll get them thinking. And hopefully, it'll make them reflect on what a pretty dumb screwed-up society we have become. And the other thing about MAD is that we always ask people to think for themselves and to challenge authority. And that's certainly what's in the MAD 20 as well; they're not going to be suckered in.