MAD Magazine turned Andy Griffith's hit comedy routine into a 1958 comic strip
Check out an illustrated "What It Was, Was Football."
Image: DC Comics / Time Warner
Believe it or not, MAD Magazine is about to celebrate its 65th anniversary. The premiere journal of puerile satire kicked off in the fall of 1952. These days, it's still being published by DC Comics — still featuring those brilliant little marginal cartoons by Sergio Aragonés.
In its 40th issue, way back in 1958, editor Al Feldstein looked to a smash comedy record for inspiration.
Before becoming a screen star, Andy Griffith scored huge hits as a humorous raconteur. His breakthrough routine was "What It Was, Was Football." The monologue was from the perspective of a country bumpkin, who witnesses his first football game. The fellow is mesmerized by the strange, complex athletic spectacle and eventually susses out that "it's some kindly of a contest where they see which bunchful of them men can take that punkin' and run…"
Griffith recorded "What It Was, Was Football" for a record release. The 45 single sold a mind-boggling total of 900,000 or so copies. It broke into the Top Ten of the pop charts in 1954. According to Capitol Records' liner notes, the bit was recorded at an "insurance convention" in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The bit was illustrated for MAD by George Woodbridge, known as "America's Dean of Uniform Illustration" due to his expertise in drawing military uniforms. So, as you might imagine, the football uniforms look sharp. The cheerleaders also seem to be rooting for Notre Dame.
Six decades later, the piece still charms, thanks to both Griffith's words and Woodbridge's art. Take a look.