The Story of Our Magazine
In 2003, I took all of my money from working two seasons as a wildland firefighter and made a huge investment. Stocks? Bonds? Tech? Even better, I launched my own independent comedy magazine and called it Modest Proposal.
“Why don’t you create a comedy website instead, like The Onion or College Humor?” asked my more-intelligent friends…
Ha! Those will never last. Magazines about comedy are what people want, I boasted.
Like so many other visionaries you never read about, my dream bombed. However, from 2003 through 2006, my equally-misguided partners Ron Babcock, Eric Koester, and I, along with many friends and comedians, worked very hard to produce Modest Proposal Magazine.
We published interviews with our favorite comedians, including Zach Galifianakis, Bob Odenkirk, Chelsea Peretti, Maria Bamford, Doug Stanhope, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Nick Swardson, Todd Barry, Amy Sedaris, Dave Attell, Marc Maron, Eugene Mirman, Jim Gaffigan, Martha Kelly, Anthony Jeselnik, Jonah Ray, Greg Fitzsimmons, Neil Hamburger, and many more. We published original essays, humor writing and comic strips by Jen Kirkman, Mike Hollingsworth, Bonnie McFarlane, Lynn Shawcraft, Mishka Shubaly, Jim Mahfood, Amy Seimetz, Charlyne Yi, and more.
Despite the magazine never “taking off” or “earning a profit” or “breaking even,” we do have an anthology’s worth of comedy interviews and humor writing. It’s a time capsule into the era immediately before comedy went viral. It was before YouTube, before Twitter, before Facebook, before podcasts, and before Netflix Comedy Specials. It was before most comics and writers even figured out how MySpace could connect them with an audience.
Now we’ve collected all of this content into one book. It reads like one part Judd Apatow’s Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy, one part McSweeney’s collection and one part Mad magazine. Unless you have the original issues, which we only printed a few hundred of each, you cannot find this material anywhere else. Also, we’re including some never-before-printed interviews and updated quotes from the writers and comedians looking back on that time in their lives.
This is essential for any comedy geek, pop culture fanatic, and humor aficionado.
Ryan & Ron buddying around sometime in early 2009.