Scott Gosar

Photo By Michael Sion

Had people told Scott Gosar, when he was dealing blackjack at Baldini’s, that 10 years later he’d edit the nation’s second-largest humor magazine, he’d have wondered what they were smoking. But in April, the Renoite, 38, with nary a college degree assumed editorship of CRACKED, the 46-year-old “World’s Humorest Funny Magazine” and rival of MAD. The strange chain of events started when Gosar began gobbling up humor magazines by the thousands on eBay. He started to sell the old issues—which led to contacts with humor editors, a freelance gig with Weekly World News ("New Vitamin Cigarettes Will Add Years to Your Life” was one brainchild) and sales to the bimonthly CRACKED. A staffing shakeup landed the editor’s job. From his riverside condo shared with magazine mountains, CD stacks and seven guitars, Gosar fields ideas, coordinates and writes content and gets contributors paid.

What has surprised you most about being editor?

Nothing really. Somehow I feel I was born to do this. I’ve been jamming humor magazines down my gullet since I was 9. I’ve always been anti-authoritarian, with an ability to sit back, observe a situation and be able to make fun of it. I went to three high schools in four years. I wasn’t kicked out. I left.

CRACKED TV is in the works. What’s the magazine’s financial state?

OK to good. CRACKED has new investors, one of whom is Rick Nielsen, Cheap Trick’s guitarist. Nielsen was a CRACKED fan as a child. We do a print run of 100,000 copies, and probably have a 40 percent sell-through. MAD sells 250,000 a month out of probably 1 million. Circulation for humor magazines has declined drastically in the past 30 years, thanks to videogames and the Internet.

How is CRACKED different from MAD?

MAD’s age group is 10- to 16-year-old boys, and for the longest time, CRACKED tried to be the younger brother’s MAD, like 7 to 12. It got too juvenile for a while, a little too much of the fart-crap type humor. National Lampoon, which folded for good in 1998, wanted the college-age reader, and we’re sort of headed in that direction, without the nudity and profanity. We’re getting more political. Our next issue, Sept. 13, is devoted almost entirely to the presidential election. Lots of Bush and Kerry bashing. Any age group, however, can enjoy CRACKED, from 4 to 400.

Why are humor magazines important?

Humor magazines are due for resurgence because of the trying times we live in. They’re comforting. They poke fun at the stressors we all share. There comes a time when we get to be teenagers and become too cool for humor magazines, and then we grow up, go out and get our asses kicked by the world, and come limping back to MAD and CRACKED. It happens to most everyone who ever found solace in humor magazines as a kid.

How has living in Reno shaped your sense of humor?

It’s sharpened it like a Ginsu Knife. You need a sense of humor and a sense of irony to live in a town like this.