Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mad Libs turn 50
The name “Mad Libs” came to Roger and me out of the blue-plate special at Sardi’s restaurant in New York in the summer of 1958. At the table next to us, an actor and his agent were having coffee and an argument. From what we couldn’t help but hear, the actor wanted to “ad-lib” an interview, and his agent thought it was a “mad” thing to do.

Nuff said? Abandoning our eggs Benedict, Roger and I were off and running to a publisher, the same one that had published Roger’s best-selling humor book "In One Head and Out the Other." And within minutes we were in one door and out the other. Those good souls didn’t think it was a book but honestly believed it might appeal to a game manufacturer.

The game manufacturer in turn thought it was a book and sent us to another book publisher, which didn’t think it was a book! After we ran out of publishers and game manufacturers within a 50-mile radius of the city, Roger decided we should publish Mad Libs ourselves. What could it take? You design the book, find a printer, and place the order. So we did just that. It never occurred to us, until the printer called asking where he should deliver the books, that printers didn’t double as warehouses. However, Roger’s large Central Park West apartment could and did. Fourteen thousand copies of Mad Libs were delivered directly to his dining room, denying my good friend a decent sit-down meal for the three months and 17 days it took us to find a willing, one-time-only distributor.
Play a game.