Underground Magazine occupy Time Out
One of the anonymous satirical revolutionaries from newspaper parody Underground Magazine explains how they wrested control of the Comedy section
‘Our name is Underground Magazine,’ I proclaimed, kicking down the front door and cocking my shotgun. ‘We are satirical revolutionaries. By day, we distribute our bi-monthly comedy freesheet, but by night we crush the bloated mainstream media. Stand aside, so we can burn The Guardian to the ground!’
‘This isn’t The Guardian,’ the receptionist told us. ‘This is Time Out London.’ I adjusted my bandana and wondered if we should relocate, but we were tired from shouting all those things about revolutions, and one of our violent satirical comrades had run out of credit on his Oyster Card anyway.
In the lift we took stock of our tools of revolution. Assault weaponry, billy clubs, a signed copy of ‘Das Kapital’. A comrade lit a Molotov cocktail, but the lifts at Time Out are small, and smoke circulates fast. The doors opened and we stumbled out, dizzy with revolutionary pride and fumes. ‘We’re locking this mother down,’ I told a cardboard cut-out of Tim Minchin.
‘You can’t do this!’ said the editor as we burst into his office. ‘This is Time Out, a popular magazine with a circulation of 380,000! I’m trying to interview Michael McIntyre!’
‘Hullo!’ said McIntyre. ‘Did you ever wonder why they sell water “ice cold”? Surely it’d just be ice! What is with that? And why do they call it a car boot sale? Nobody ever sells a car boot! What is with that?’
The thing about bringing a bloated patriarchal institution down from the inside is that you have to be dramatic. From the outside, you can just set up camp and wait for the patriarchy’s eventual collapse. But try doing that inside and they’ll just ignore you. Or worse, they’ll talk to you and suddenly you’re trapped in a really nice conversation, you’ll ask if she likes music, she’ll ask why you’re holding matches and an oily rag, and you’ll have to try to explain that. Guess what? You can’t explain that. You just go, ‘Oh, these?’, put them in the bin, and the only thing on fire will be your heart. So I gagged Michael McIntyre and moved on to Phase Two.
‘I have a bomb!’ I proclaimed, pulling open my trenchcoat to reveal a block of C4 attached to a bristling mass of wires and electronics. ‘Now surrender control, or I’ll blow The Guardian…’
‘…Time Out London…’
‘…Time Out London sky-high! And then how will the people of London find out if The Kooks are doing any gigs this week? They won’t!’
The thought was too terrible to contemplate, so, with fear in their bourgeois eyes, the staff immediately acquiesced to our three demands. Firstly, they gave us some attention. Secondly, they all agreed to follow us on Twitter, and not unfollow us just as soon as the occupation had ended. Thirdly, they allowed us to take over the Comedy section. Originally we’d wanted the whole magazine, but the editor negotiated me down once he noticed that my bomb was just the circuit board from Operation taped to a big stick of butter.
‘But don’t worry, the Comedy section is great!’ he added encouragingly. ‘The women wear nothing but caviar, and you can eat it off them whenever you want,’ he told the men. Then he turned to the women. ‘The men also wear caviar which you can eat off them, too,’ he said. He turned back to the men. ‘But you don’t have to see that.’ We agreed; we’d take over Comedy. Just for this week.
The moment we entered the office and heard the door lock behind us we knew we’d been tricked. There were no caviar-covered women, or men. There was just a desk, and an editor – Ben (click here for an interview with him) – whimpering like a tiny terrified puppy. ‘This isn’t a Comedy section!’ I said. ‘This is just a desk with a typewriter and some pillows on it!’
‘It’s not a bed! Who said it was a bed?’ said Ben, knocking the pillows off the desk. ‘What are you doing here?’ We told him our story of occupation. His eyes lit up. ‘It’s a great story. Write that!’ But it was a depressing story. We were locked in a cupboard and our revolution had achieved nothing except having Michael McIntyre silenced. Plus, I had Pilates at 5pm. Time was running out. ‘How about you make it sound like you win at the end?’ said Ben. ‘And self-publicise!’
So that’s the story of how we broke into Time Out, occupied it, and got to print in it anything we wanted. That’s Underground Magazine, a newspaper parody full of free satire, outside tube stations and online. Issue two out soon.
Underground Magazine, London’s only satirical freesheet, is available outside selected tube stations, or download a copy from www.undergroundmgzn.com. They also produce satire at facebook.com/undergroundmgzn.
Q&A with Ben Williams, comedy editor
Hi Ben! We hear that you’ve been bound and gagged by the satirical revolutionaries from Underground Magazine. Tell us more!
Sounds great! Don’t try to struggle. If you keep trying to attract attention we’ll just knock you out and write answers on your behalf.
‘Mnnnphffft! [short delay] Yes. I apologise unreservedly. Please continue.’
What do you make of the current London comedy scene?
‘If you ask me, it’s become a little staid. What it really needs is something inspired and fresh to shake things up a bit – like Underground Magazine!’
Would you like us to call an ambulance? That bump on your head looks pretty nasty…
‘No, I’m fine. Don’t you worry about me.’
What’s your opinion of people putting words into your mouth?
‘I’m entirely for it. It’s incredibly funny!’
Will Ben ever escape? Follow @TimeOut_Comedy on Twitter to find out his fate…