Paul Krassner should be declared a national treasure. The title of his 1993 autobiography, Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut was quoted from a letter about him from the FBI to Life magazine. In 1958, he founded the legendary underground newspaper The Realist, which satirized the government and social establishment as well as some of the radical elements which were pitted against them. It was often difficult to tell which articles were real and which were fiction. Krassner was a founding member of the Youth International Party (aka the “Yippies”) which used satire and humor to make political statements throughout the late 1960s and early ’70s.
He was friends with legendary comedian Lenny Bruce, who encouraged him to perform standup comedy beginning in 1961, which he still does from time to time.
Krassner’s extensive wikipedia entry continues his biography:
Krassner remains a prolific writer. In 1971 he published a collection of his favorite works for the Realist, as How A Satirical Editor Became A Yippie Conspirator In Ten Easy Years. In 1981 he published the satirical story Tales of Tongue Fu, in which the hilarious misadventures of the Japanese-American man Tongue Fu are mixed with a wicked social commentary. In July 2009, City Lights Publishers will release Who’s to Say What’s Obscene?, a collection of satirical essays that explore contemporary comedy and obscenity in politics and culture.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to know Paul, and was honored to talk to him on September 16 of 2001. There was one subject on everyone’s minds that week which we discussed at length.