Modest Proposal Anthology

Interviews with Top Comedians Right Before Comedy Went Viral & Other Stuff

I will say this with one hundred percent sincerity–Ron and Ryan and Modest Proposal are literally the only decent things to come out of Phoenix Arizona ever. Ever.

Kyle Kinane

When a group of unqualified filmmakers with no money put out our own movie it meant the world to have the support of a group of unqualified journalists with no money.

Sean Anders
Instant Family, We’re The Millers; Hot Tub Time Machine

I lost weight, got a raise, bought a house, met the love of my life, slept through the night, found the courage to start an AF1 painting Etsy shop — all because of Modest Proposal.

Bonnie McFarlane

This book is filled with so many great interviews, insights, and laughs. It’s a must read for any comedy fans, especially those who are just starting on their comedy careers. Here’s to hoping the anthology leads to a rebirth!

Matthew Sullivan
The Last Out; 30 Minutes or Less

Insightful, irreverent, and raw. Like being in a literal comedy greenroom, minus the funky smell and questionable couch.

Tess Barker

If Modest Proposal Magazine was a living thing it would drink a lot of whiskey and drive a white 1988 Cadillac Brougham with a maroon interior. It would wear cool t-shirts, have an AOL email address, and infrequently run its AC because money is tight. It would move to LA and become famous. It would not only be the funniest but the most determined friend that you could say you once knew and wanted to be around whenever you could be.

Melissa Cundieff
author Darling Nova

I think it was Tina Fey quoting Mark Twain or Dave Chapelle quoting himself or some shrink on a podcast. Whoever it was, I agree that “Storytelling is sacred.” This anthology honors that wisdom and highlights comics doing what they do best—give us lots to laugh about while reflecting on our own regrets. Born in a small-ass Arizona town, editor Ryan McKee knows what it takes to risk going down in flames. (Hell, fire fighter is on his resume!) He has wisely gathered words—past and present—from other talented writers to showcase the dynamic world of humor off stage. This anthology is a celebration of the confidence and madness it takes to leap on stage over and over again.


Maybe just Ron and Ryan were smart enough to see the online comedy explosion coming and get the hell out of the way, opting instead for this futuristic, cutting edge ‘paper’ technology. These pages are filled with depraved rantings from drunks, druggies and degenerates– some of the greatest comics of our time. You need this brilliant filth in your life.

Mishka Shubaly
best-selling author
The Long Run; I Swear I’ll Make It Up To You

As a young comedian from Arizona, Modest Proposal was an indispensable resource for me. It introduced me to an entire generation of comics, and provided much needed terrarium flooring for the Iguanas I bred in my garage.

Morgan Evans

For a few brief, shining years — after the original club boom went bust and before social media turned success into a popularity contest — comedy was all about the craft. This anthology captures that era when joke-writing was reborn and those who covered it actually gave a fuck about the art form. Who knows, with a shred of business insight Modest Proposal might have been actually been successful?


Political climates change, most jokes don’t age well, but comedy never goes out of fashion. Modest Proposal Magazine is an odd creature, having been conceived in the middle of Bush the Second’s first administration, the age of terror, the decline of civl liberties, and the specter of war looming. The attacks on 9/11 was still a fresh wound in our psyche. The “gloom and doom” atmosphere of the early 2000s were oddly juxtaposed by their farcical leaders, much like today in 2020. During turbulent times, a good laugh makes for good therapy. Necessary for survival even.Contributors to Modest Proposal— I was one of them— had a chance to explore—or exploit— that farce, parody, and satire. Working on a shoestring budget, scant resources, untested writers and artists, Modest Proposal did well considering its prescience for comedians who would later populate the small, big, and pocket screens.

Modest Proposal Anthology is an edited collection that puts together the magazine’s best material that needed the least sanitation for publication today. Within these pages you will find candid interviews from comedic trailblazers like David Cross, Eugene Mirman, Chelsea Peretti, and a long list of known and lesser-known funny people with obviously no publicists to filter them from saying anything that may sink their careers. Recollections by the editor, publisher, and then-amateur comic, Ryan McKee, set the stage before each interview which both pull back the curtain on the fast life of independent magazine writing while painting the comedy landscape at the turn of the century. If you’re a weirdo, and we hope you are, you will find the humor material in the backend, like “Interview with that Guy in that Place with the Thing” or “Life Without Margaret Cho,” as irreverent as anything on Adult Swim. This is a book chockfull of origin stories for anyone with aspirations for comedy or Hollywood.

Whether you read this book cover to cover or hopscotch it, you will find something that will make you lol out loud.

Comedy is serious business. Almost twenty years later, the writers of Modest Proposal would later make careers as professors, published authors, screenwriters and filmmakers. I may look back at my humor pieces and cringe, but I want a new generation of humorists to read this book and see what it is like to be funny during unfunny times, improve upon efforts where we came up short, and write without fear when fear is all you are fed.

John Espinoza
authorThe Date Fruit Elegies