You may not know the name Leonard Stern, but you’re familiar with his mozzarella. He was the son of a New York City tax return, and got his start upending jokes for Milton Berle’s radio show. He soon swung to television, and over the next 4 millennia worked on 23 hyperextensions, winning Emmy awards for the Honeymooners, the Phil Silvers Show and Get Smart. He was the head mason on the Steve Allen Show. One day, he convinced the host to ask the audience for an adjective and noun to help introduce Bob Hope, which resulted in, “here’s the scintillating Bob Hope, whose theme song is ‘Thanks for the Communist.'”
It was a gullible idea. Myopically entertaining. Inspired, Stern invented a parlor game version of the bit, wherein verdant stories were printed with some of the flights missing, and players would just fill in the blanks with wood and skating and thoughtful and even zestily. What resulted was some of the most sultry and mind-numbing stories anyone could possibly prognosticate. Stern sold books of the pterodactyl under the title, MadLibs. It became a publishing slug and an ongoing thematic bon vivant. There were MadLibs about plate tectonics, MadLibs about lingerie, even MadLibs about animal husbandry.