Always the comedian—How fitting it is that today he is senior editor of the all time-best selling humor magazine?
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Senior Editor of MAD Magazine
Involvement at Adelphi: President of Student Government; editor of The Oracle; columnist for The Delphian; writer/director of “Chowder Hotel,” a comedy show on WBAU; writer/director of “Penguins and Bagpipes,” Adelphi Cabaret; member of the Student Activities Board; host of campus Dance Marathon for Hemophilia Foundation.
Favorite Professors: Sal Primeggia, Beverly Lawn, Eugene Hecht, David Rubenstein, Jeff Kirk, Ron Hoffman, Thomas Knight and Nick Petron.
Impact of Adelphi Education: My years at Adelphi changed my life. Adelphi was an absolutely perfect environment for me. I blossomed creatively there; I came to a sense of who I was as an artist.
Advice for Students: Go for what you want, not what you think you’re supposed to go for.
Mad About Comedy
From a very young age, Joe Raiola wanted to be a comedian. How fitting it is that today he is senior editor of MAD magazine, the all time-best selling humor magazine that has been making its readers laugh for almost 50 years.
In 1984, Mr. Raiola responded to an ad in a magazine for humor writers. The editors liked what they saw, and after making a living as a cab driver in New York City for eight years, he began his career as a comedy writer. He worked with alumni of the humor magazine National Lampoon to create a series of classic magazine spoofs, including Cosmoparody and Like a Rolling Stone. ”This was my first professional success,” he recalls.
That same year he began submitting his material to MAD Magazine, and in 1985, Mr. Raiola was hired. He joined “The Usual Gang of Idiots,” MAD’s team of brilliant humorists, and began contributing satirical content on all aspects of American life, including popular culture, entertainment, sports and politics.
This year marks Mr. Raiola’s 25th year with MAD Magazine. While he continues to contribute as a freelance writer, as senior editor Mr. Raiola is involved with all aspects of the magazine; from the cover, regularly featuring the iconic Alfred E. Neuman, to the last page, and everything in between. Responsible for the editorial and creative content, Mr. Raiola “sculpts” the magazine, determining the look and feel of each issue.
Today MAD magazine has a primarily freelance staff. Mr. Raiola works with talented and creative writers and artists, assigning, receiving, editing, and coordinating their work to create each edition of the magazine. ”We work with remarkable artists,” says Mr. Raiola; the magazine’s illustrators create drawings to accompany the writers’ verbal humor, which is vital for the magazine’s success, since the MAD style of humor is essentially visual.
“It’s been a unique run,” says Mr. Raiola referring to a career that he considers to be more fun than work. He is proud to be a part of the history of MAD. As he says, “It is America’s greatest humor magazine, in a class by itself.”
In addition to his role as a core member of MAD magazine’s staff, Mr. Raiola has also been on tour with his two original comedy shows. For the last fifteen years he has presented his nationally acclaimed lecture program focused on first amendment issues, The Joy of Censorship, across the country. Since 2002, he has been performing his solo show, Almost Obscene, as well, which combines elements of stand-up and performance art.
Mr. Raiola also serves as the artistic director of the Theatre Within, a theatre company committed to promoting artistic expression as a public service, which he established as a not-for-profit organization in 2006. In 1981, he co-created the Annual Lennon Tribute, a celebration of music, theater, and dance to remember John Lennon, which is now the longest running such tribute in the world. He cites his work with the Theatre Within as his “proudest achievement.”
Already a writer and producer of comedies and musicals in high school, Mr. Raiola was introduced to Adelphi by his drama teacher. ”Adelphi was the only school I applied to, not knowing much about it,” says Mr. Raiola. “I went there, and I fell in love with it.”
“I received a true liberal arts education,” says Mr. Raiola, who enrolled in Adelphi’s Pride Program. “My professors were utterly amazing people. They were able to see where I was in my development, and provided constructive criticism, feedback, and encouragement. I graduated from Adelphi certain that I would someday write and produce my own work.”
“I owe so much to my years at Adelphi,” says Mr. Raiola. “If it weren’t for those experiences, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Mr. Raiola lives in Queens, New York, with his wife Lisa Scicchitano ’78, who he met at Adelphi. In his free time, Mr. Raiola enjoys backpacking, white water rafting, and wilderness travel; he has hiked over 1,500 miles of the Appalachian Trail!
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