The Deadbeat: Finding the humor in the situation

Being funny is hard. Writing is hard. And every week, the staff of the University’s campus humor magazine, The Deadbeat, skillfully combine the two by cleverly satirizing topics ranging from college culture to national politics.

The online magazine’s recent comical headlines convey the variety of topics The Deadbeat covers. Examples include, “Santa Claus Steps Down as CEO of the North Pole Corporation,” “If Candy Hearts Were Truthful” and “5 Life Lessons We Learned From Pokemon.”

University alumna Ilana Strauss created the RSO The Deadbeat (www.deadbeathumor.com) in 2010 when she was in her sophomore year. The inspiration to create the online publication came from her interest in humor writing, and that the University did not yet have a humor magazine.

“It was a learning experience. I never had been in charge of a publication before. We definitely started really small … but we definitely grew from there through word of mouth,” Strauss said.

Strauss’s favorite articles she wrote were a series of stories called “History Retold,” which are fake history stories that follow a textbook-style format.

The current presidents and editor-in-chiefs of The Deadbeat are Nick Turner and Sean Rowader, both sophomores in LAS.

“Right now, we have around nine writers and editors that come to the meetings, where we decide what articles to put in and review, and decide on ideas for next week,” Turner said.

The Deadbeat staff finds the creativity to be satirical in their articles by discussing numerous story ideas at their Tuesday meetings.

A lot of times at the meetings, if something pops into your head, you can just say it and make it sound ridiculous, said Austin Gomez, Deadbeat staff writer and editor, and freshman in LAS.

“You have to look pretty hard for some things, but you can find humor in almost anything,” Gomez said.

“We definitely keep up with politics, pop culture, events that have happened,” Turner said. “Because we are the U of I’s humor magazine, we try to keep some of the stories based on Illinois.”

The group tries to pick stories that don’t use controversy as its base, Rowader said. In comedy, there are a lot of other elements going on, he added.

“We don’t tackle specific people in the articles, other than like … Santa Claus,” Turner said.

Often times, thinking of funny story ideas is the easiest part of the process. The challenge lies in the task of writing a funny story.

“I guess you don’t know if you’re funny; you only know if people laugh at it. Especially when it comes to writing, you have to have other people read it, and if they like it and think it’s funny, then you know it’s funny,” Turner said.

As well as being satirical, The Deadbeat aims to write articles in various formats.

“I like to get more creative with the articles, and do something different,” Turner said. “As far as favorite types go, I like the articles that list the top five or top 10 things of what the topic is.”

Most of the stories are written with the author’s real name, but some writers go under funny pseudonyms for their stories to add to the humor of the publication.

While humor writing can be challenging, Turner enjoys the freedom that comes with it, such as being able to write anything that comes to mind, and not having to stick to the facts.

“When it comes to classes and I have to write papers, it’s harder to want to write something you’re forced to write,” Turner said. “It’s easier to just come up with your own idea, and then just let it flow onto the paper because you have more freedom with it.”

Gomez enjoys the creative aspect of writing for The Deadbeat, and being able to put his own comedic spin and sardonic twist to the stories.

Rowader’s favorite aspect of the The Deadbeat is the entire process of creating the stories.

“We have a lot of fun in the process of writing these articles,” Rowader said. “In addition to putting a funny article out there for everyone to read, we’re also having a great time ourselves.“

The Deadbeat is currently working on many projects for the future of the online publication, such as making more videos for the website.

“We are excited about filming,” Rowader said. “That’s something new that we’re going to be doing.”

The Deadbeat also plans to release their first print issue during this spring semester.

“We’ll put them next to where the newspaper stands are,” Turner said, “and we’ll post them on boards, and try to get the word out as best we can.”