"This is some of the best satire on the internet... or anywhere else, for that matter."
- Eric Weiner, National Public Radio
August 22, 2006
After a long hiatus and what amounts to a complete retooling, Cracked Magazine has hit newsstands again for the first time in over a year.
Cracked began as a competitor for Mad Magazine in 1958, and for decades survived where many others faded away. However, the publication went through two changes in ownership in 1999-2000, leading to high staff turnover and a decline in circulation. In early 2005, a new group of investors purchased the storied title and opted to pull it from the shelves while the magazine underwent a complete creative overhaul.
The overhaul has been significant indeed. Cracked Entertainment CEO Monty Sarhan has helped lead Cracked away from the pre-adolescent humor that served the magazine so well for so long, and into a manically glossy publication that riffs more on Maxim and Spy. There are some comics within, but the new Cracked relies more on full-scale parody ads and pranks - and a new focus on actually talking to real-world comedians. There are interviews with Rob Corddry, Ed Helms, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and Carlos Mencia, not to mention material contributed by the staffs of the Daily Show, The Chappelle Show, and Saturday Night Live.
Interestingly, 800-lb internet humor gorilla Maddox, who runs The Best Page in the Universe, also contributes, a clear sign that Cracked aims to be a focal point for humor and parody from all forms of media. While the raw countercultural humor upon which Cracked relied for years was once found only within the pages of marginalized publications, today's atomized media has encouraged niche humor to flourish in venues such as Comedy Central and the internet. Indeed, Cracked has boasted a web presence with regular, original content for months.
Clearly, the magazine's resurrection is more than skin-deep. It's a different beast altogether. Far from cloning Mad Magazine, or even Maxim, the new Cracked is out to build its own identity through multiple venues. It remains to be seen if it can muscle its way into a stable corner of the crowded humor market today. However, the slick and smart 80 page issue is a strong opening salvo in its new battle for comedy street cred.