Paul Krassner

On this date in 1932, comedian and radical editor Paul Krassner was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Jewish parents. A violin prodigy, he performed at Carnegie Hall at age 6. He majored in journalism at Baruch College (then a branch of the City College of New York) and started performing as a comedian under the name Paul Maul. A co-founder of the Yippies (Youth International Party) with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, he edited The Realist from 1958-74.

When People magazine dubbed the stand-up satirist the “father of the underground press,” he quipped that he would demand a paternity test. Both journalist and activist, Krassner, after interviewing a doctor who was performing abortions before their legalization, decided to run an underground abortion referral service.

An FBI agent once wrote a letter to the editor saying, “To classify Krassner as a social rebel is far too cute. He’s a nut, a raving, unconfined nut.” His 1993 memoir was subsequently titled Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture.” 

Krassner edited Lenny Bruce’s biography, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People. His comedy records include “We Have Ways of Making You Laugh.” After ABC’s Harry Reasoner said, “Krassner not only attacks establishment values; he attacks indecency in general,” he called his one-man show “Attacking Indecency in General.” He has written for Rolling Stone, Spin, Mother Jones, The Nation and Ron Reagan’s late-night talk show. Krassner was inducted in the Counterculture Hall of Fame.

His many books include The Winner of the Slow Bicycle Race: The Satiric Writings of Paul Krassner, Impolite Interviews, Murder at the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities. The San Francisco Examiner said of him: “He has lived on the edge so long he gets his mail delivered there.” Krassner repeatedly identifies himself as an atheist in his interviews and writings.

Freedom From Religion Foundation