A sense of humor has always existed at the University of Wisconsin, even during the bleakest days in history. In 1919, just after the end of World War I, students who wanted an outlet for the funny side of life created The Octopus, a humor magazine. An officially sanctioned student organization, “the Octy” had a high degree of editorial freedom and autonomy, and it was published on campus for 40 years — surviving the Great Depression and World War II.
It wasn’t until 1988 that UW students revived the idea of a homegrown humor magazine. That year, Chris Johnson ’90 and Tim Keck ’90 spawned The Onion, a popular parody newspaper. Today, The Onion is a nationwide comedy publication with 700,000 readers.