Mainstream humor magazine launched

February 02, 1994|By David Tobenkin | David Tobenkin,The Hollywood Reporter

Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada thinks one of the biggest jokes around is the selection of humor magazines.

Mad Magazine skews to the younger crowd, National Lampoon publishes quarterly, and Spy targets the intellectuals. But where, asks Mr. Masada, is a mainstream national publication featuring the writings of the comics who fill America's movie screens and comedy clubs like the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles?

Actually, there was such a magazine, Mr. Masada says -- his own, which ceased publication in 1986 after a dispute with publisher Warner Publications, but resumed publication, hitting the newsstands yesterday for the first time in eight years.

Laugh Factory features columns written by such comedians as Woody Allen, Louie Anderson and Art Buchwald; in-your-face graphics and design by art director Kim Cruiser, former L.A. Style associate art director; and oddball features such as Dinner Plate Etiquette and a list of jokes that should be boycotted.

In the opening edition, Sandra Bernhard disses former pal Madonna; Woody Allen says that in his movie "Manhattan" he resisted the urge to insert a scene where he and Mariel Hemingway take a carriage ride through Central Park with screams of "stick 'em up" in the background; and "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David offers his feelings about going bald and sex appeal: "Women love a self-confident man. Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man -- there's your diamond in the rough."

The monthly magazine tries to combine the user-friendly graphics and sound-bite format of an Entertainment Weekly with the cheeky tone of an Esquire.

Mr. Masada, a 33-year-old Israeli who came to America 14 years ago with nothing and now owns three comedy clubs and the taping site of Fox's "Comic Strip Live" series, has always been a risk-taker, and his new venture certainly fits the pattern.

He is launching a thick, glossy, full-color publication in a grim advertising market with no partners.

Already, he has spent more than $500,000 to produce and print 500,000 copies of the 98-page magazine, which will be distributed by Hearst Corp. in 52,000 newsstands nationwide and be mailed free of charge to 67,000 subscribers of the old Laugh Factory magazine.

However, he says that Hollywood is already showing support for the company, with 15 pages of ads, mainly movie and TV companies.

Ad rates for full-page color ads are $17,000, he says. The magazine retails for $2.95 on newsstands and $26.40 for yearly subscriptions.

He says he has also rejected cigarette ads on principle as well as turned down the offers of other Hollywood players to help bankroll the project, because he hopes to retain full control -- and profits.

The editors say they expect the first issue's contributors -- including Mr. Allen, Mr. Anderson, comedian Carol Siskind, Charles Fleischer (the voice of "Roger Rabbit"), "Saturday Night Live" writers Fred Wolf and Paul Mooney, "SNL" regular Rich Hall, and "Grace Under Fire" star Brett Butler -- to contribute to future issues of the magazine.

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