The Stanford Chaparral is a humor magazine that has flourished under the devoted attention of Stanford students and the kind indifference of the University for longer than anyone can remember.
Stanford student Bristow Adams came up with the idea of humor in 1899 as a way to make money selling advertisements to typewriter manufacturers. Riding the coattails of the hot new invention, the simple idea succeeded beyond Bristow's wildest dreams, and before long, people from Long Island to Long Beach would erupt in laughter at the mere suggestion of humor.
Yes, humor was the word on the nation's smiling lips, but The Chaparral — named after the lowly shrubbery found commonly and solely in western North America — was caught somewhere in its throat. It would, unfortunately, remain there, content to thrive in obscurity and esophageal dampness.
Though national recognition eluded humor's creators, The Chaparral was still a success on campus, where it gave students an alternative to The Stanford Sequoia, the University's five-voweled artistic and literary journal. The two publications were the subjects of an occasional rivalry until The Chaparral acquired The Sequoia in the 1970s and shuttered it — a story chronicled in the motion picture Blue Tuesday starring Gregory Peck.
In the years since its inception, the magazine has become an integral player in campus life and University history. The Chaparral helped fund the construction of Memorial Auditorium, began the Saturday Film Series (now known as Sunday Flicks), and co-founded both the Stanford Concert Network and the department of computer science.
Despite its breadth of interests, The Chaparral has still found time to devote itself to the production of a quality humor publication. A common interest in humor writing attracts a variety of students, tall and short alike, to The Chaparral's staff, giving the magazine's pieces a style that illuminates the distinct subtleties of tall vs. short humor.
Whether this is your first visit to The Chaparral or your last, we encourage you to have a look at that bit of antique humor on the home page and see if you can tell us what it means.