“The Birth of a College Comic Paper” (E47)

  • Originally printed: Life Magazine, June 2, 1927
  • First reprinted in: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or David Copperfield
  • Unable to Access Original Text at This Time – Benchley Data will analyze any excisions/amendments when Life 1927 enters the Public Domain (in 2023)
  • Original Byline: Not Available


An extremely off the cuff entry in the Benchley canon – but one with its heart on its sleeve. Here, the author takes us behind the scenes at The Razorblade, a fictional entrant in the college humour sweepstakes of the 1920s, where Messrs. Youling, Beamish, Roffen, and Phielo take their bi-weekly half-assed stab at putting together a passable periodical. It is a truism that no one wants to see how the sausage gets made, but in The Razorblade’s case, it seems pretty clear that encountering this sausage at any stage of its life cycle would be a mistake.

Benchley’s disdain for puerile sex jokes, which he considered a substitute for actual humour, comes through pretty clearly in this piece, as does his irritation with an epidemic of ersatz nonsense churned out by Boston Bro-mins whose approach to the mirthful metier lacks any tinge of cosmic absurdity. These charmless chums, whose every “anarchic” act or statement comes embalmed in quotation marks, seem to conceive of comedy as a fraternity hazing ritual perpetrated upon the public. Rah rah rah!

Favourite Moment:
Eighteen poems, five of them to Milady’s ankle, and twenty-nine necking jokes. If we use them all, we are still five whole pages short.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s