This might be why Borowitz’s widely followed Twitter feed (nearly 135,000 followers and counting) brims with a rolling stream of quips, digs and mock headlines aimed at the revolving cast of Republican front-runners:
● “Breaking: Rick Perry requests that debate format include Lifeline and 50/50.”
● “Breaking: Newt Gingrich leads GOP field in wives.”
● “Breaking: Romney Admits He is Flip-Flopper, Then Denies It.”
As Republicans mulled over the wisdom of Gingrich’s laissez-faire stance on immigration in Tuesday night’s debate, Borowitz offered his own “breaking” analysis: “Daringly Humane Position on Immigration Could Torpedo Gingrich.”
Such snarky stuff is just a small part of the Borowitz-based satire industry. A former TV sitcom writer — he created “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” in the early 1990s — the 53-year-old humorist is funny in long form and short, and in multiple media. His BorowitzReport.com is his Onion-esque “news” site, with such stories as “Potential Race Between Black Guy and Mormon Poses Dilemma for Bigots” and “Greece Offers to Repay Bailout with Giant Horse.” He’s written five humor books and dozens and dozens of humor pieces for the New Yorker magazine. He does lectures and stand-up comedy, too.
Borowitz’s latest incarnation is as a humor editor. In a collection titled “The 50 Funniest American Writers: An Anthology of Humor from Mark Twain to the Onion,” Borowitz plowed through about 1,000 authors to select the best of his kind. There’s the obvious (well, Twain), the obscure (a long-forgotten short story by film director John Hughes that became the basis for the National Lampoon “Vacation” movies) and the never-appreciated (Sinclair Lewis). Plus, Nora Ephron, Dave Barry, H.L. Mencken and others.
But maybe he didn’t get to everyone who deserves to be there. Like, Sinclair Lewis and Langston Hughes, but not Robert Benchley?
“The idea is to get people talking,” Borowitz says one afternoon, languishing over a lunch of pizza and iced black coffee at an Upper East Side restaurant near his apartment. And indeed he has: The book has been a New York Times bestseller, a coup for its publisher, the nonprofit Library of America.
Borowitz is tall, gawky and fit (he runs about six miles a day). He has a long neck, a prominent nose and floppy hair, all of which makes him look like a cross between comedian Andy Dick and actor Owen Wilson. Like many humorists and comics, he’s more thoughtful and reflective in conversation than you’d expect.