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I'm a Humor Columnist At A Teen Magazine — Here's What It's Really Like

By Sarah Parmet I work for a really, really high-profile teen humor magazine. For legal reasons, I can’t give you the exact name, so let’s call it "The Twerking Dog." However, I can expose the brutal, agonizing treatment of the columnists and the injustices we face under the cruel hands of the editors-in-chief (whose names have been changed). 

Time: ???? Date: ??????

The room is dark and cold. There’s a small cot in the corner. So small, in fact, that when I lie down, my legs dangle over the edge. I am 5 feet. 

The typewriter on the desk is nearly hidden by stacks of papers, some of which have spilled onto the floor. There’s a TV in the corner, with the logo of a dog on it. The caption reads: Big Dog is watching you. I shudder, typing as quickly as I can. 

Technically, columnists have to produce one piece every two weeks, but that’s a total lie. I have to produce one every two hours! Just for shits and giggles, I guess. Giggles? Get it? Cause we’re a comedy magazine? That one’s getting old.  Go figure. A lack of Vitamin D does rot the brain cells. Oh yeah — did I mention this building doesn’t even have windows? No. Ok.  

Our “work day” is from 4:20 am to whenever the Editors-In-Chief either get so black-out drunk they pass out or decide they’d rather play Fortnite. We get an 8-minute lunch break, if at all. When I asked Nat about when dinner was, she stared at me like I had grown two heads.  I wouldn’t be the first person to — one of the curators hasn’t been doing too well lately. 

Don’t even get me started on the food. We’re not allowed to eat. The EICs said that food destroys brain matter, so we’re all required to use photosynthesis. See the earlier point about no windows? Mad told us that unnatural light would have to do since building windows was too expensive and would give us the idea that we had freedom, which is counterproductive to the integrity of the magazine. So, our 8-minute lunch break involves crowding under a fluorescent light and manifesting the biggest, juiciest, cheeseburger we can think of to ward off the incurable void of hunger.

What’s funny is that the EICs never dine with us. Nat claimed that they have a different lunch break (it’s a power dynamics thing), but I swear I saw an empty Doritos bag when I was taking out the trash.

When I asked her about it, Nat threatened to throw me into the Room of the People Who Grew Two Heads Plus Others. I haven’t been there yet, but when I do, that’ll be a whole piece in itself.

I was just getting started on lunch when —

“Hey, you there.” 

It was Mad!

“Fetch me some photosynthesis, you lowly peasant,” she said.  

“Yes, cult master number one,” I reply. I quickly ran back over to the fluorescent light, and did a few Fortnite dances to make sure I extracted all the energy Mad would need. However, while I was doing Orange Justice, I tripped on my robe and spilled Mad’s energy all over the floor. 

Right, the robes. They’re this really weird orange color, and definitely manufactured in a sweatshop that probably rivals SHEIN in terms of human rights violations.  It’s also not cropped. Don’t they know what’s trendy these days? Maybe if they touched grass for once (impossible in this building), they’d actually notice the resurgence of the Y2K era.   

“Alright, peasants! Lunch break’s over,” Nat yelled. 

We all shuddered, knowing what that meant. We sprinted down the hallway to our doorless rooms (doors are counterproductive to the idea of being a team, apparently), gathered our pieces, and raced to get into the single file line in height order. 

“It is time,” Mad announced, “For the Reading.”   

I was last in line. On one hand, it’s good, because Nat and Mad tend to go easier on you the drunker they get. On the other hand, you spend the whole Reading feeling like you’re going to shit your pants. 

They got to my pieces around the five-hour mark. The Accept Pile was looking pitifully small — only seven of the two hundred and sixty-nine pieces had gotten picked, while the rest had become food for the fire. 

“Bad, bad, bad,” Mad said, rifling through the eighteen pieces I submitted. “Six Flags — don’t care. Football — don’t care. I still don’t know what the last set of cult masters saw in her.” 

I sighed.

Suddenly, Nat bursted out laughing. “Oh, look at this one! It’s called “I’m a Humor Columnist At A Teen Magazine — Here’s What It’s Really Like.” ”

“That’s funny, as if she thinks anyone will actually believe it,” Mad agreed. “The peasant might be right. Our robes do look pretty bad.” 

“I’m tempted to send her to the Room of the People Who Grew Two Heads Plus Others,” Nat said. “This technically counts as libel —” 

“Hey! That was my bag of Doritos!” Mad yelled, reading page two. “Oh…I mean…we don’t eat. We photosynthesize. Obviously.” 

Nat scowled at me. “You’re skating on thin ice. First making fun of the robes, now this.” 

“Eh, cut her some slack. This is the most original thing I’ve read all day,” Mad waved her off, tossing my piece onto the Accept Pile. 

“Fine. But just know, Big Dog’s watching you, peasant,” Nat said. “Alright. Meeting dismissed. I have a Fortnite tournament to play.” 

I made my way back to my room, plopped on my bed, and exhaled a sigh of relief. I had survived yet another day as a columnist for the Twerking Dog.


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