Journalism Laced with Levity

Student editorials take on a farcical flavor with the premiere issue of The Stanford Chaparral (named after shrubbery common to western regions of North American).  Stanford alumnus/Chaparral founder Bristow Adams had originally intended for the magazine to deliver witty advertisements to typewriter manufacturers.  Though The Chaparral never fully realized its original aim, its campus readership flourished as an alternative to The Stanford Sequoia, a more sobering artistic and literary journal.  Since its inception, The Chappie (as it is commonly called), has become an integral player in campus life and university history by helping to subsidize the construction of the Memorial Auditorium, initiating Sunday Flicks, and co-founding the Stanford Concert Network (c. 1977).  Illustrious alumni associated with the magazine include The Simpsons Executive Producer Josh Weinstein, Editor of Vanity Fair and Spy Magazine Bruce Handy, Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, and Disney director James Algar.

Stanford Sequoia page in the 1895 Quad


Beyond the pages of The Chappie, comedic interludes have animated campus life in theatrical manifestations.  Practitioners and lovers of standup comedy partake in weekly student comedy sketches known as “The Oval.”  Since 2006, the Stanford Comedy Club has invited professional comedians to campus on a weekly basis.  Another student group, the Robber Barons Sketch Comedy, grew out of a 2008 class and has since become institutionalized at Stanford by showcasing an original, full-length sketch comedy show every academic quarter.  This collective also appears in numerous off-campus and community festivals.

Bio: Bristow Adams – founded The Stanford Chaparral in 1899 while completing his B.A. at Stanford.  Former Stanford President David Starr Jordan commissioned Adams as an artist for the Bering Sea Fur Seal Commission.  In 1914, Bristow became a Professor of the Agricultural School at Cornell University and continued to write, edit, and illustrate for numerous journalistic publications.

Featured image: cover of The Stanford Chaparral’s first issue, October 1899