What’re Mad Libs?

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Mad Libs is a fun game for all ages that involves creating wacky stories by filling in missing keywords. It was created in 1953 by Leonard Stern and Roger Price and has since been published in many different versions with specific themes. Mad Libs can be played alone or with others and is a great way to improve vocabulary skills.

Mad Libs is the ultimate road trip game, a feverish search for the funniest words and the craziest puns. In addition to being a useful tool for teaching the parts of speech, playing Mad Libs can be fun for all ages. By creating short stories with keywords removed, Mad Libs allows you to create your own wacky version, which often leads to crazed hilarity.

In 1953, television writer Leonard Stern and his friend Roger Price came up with the concept of Mad Libs while looking for descriptive adjectives for a Honeymooners script. Suddenly obsessed with their new idea, Price and Stern dropped work on the book they were co-writing and busily worked on their new funny stories. When released in 1958, the game quickly received media attention through Stern’s connections and began selling out every venue.

A traditional Mad Lib uses a short subject story, such as a letter home from the field, facts about dinosaurs or the moon. From the story, keywords are removed in several categories, including nouns, verbs, adjectives, numbers, and people’s names. A player can see the story and is in charge of receiving words from other players that fit the missing categories. No one but the person with the Mad Libs pad should be allowed to know the subject matter or other details of the story. Once all the blanks have been filled in, the completed story is read aloud and laughter generally ensues.

Since the original Mad Libs book was published in 1958, Stern and Price have published many different versions. Some of these have specific themes for the entire book, such as outer space, monsters, or school. There have recently been books with movie or TV themes, including ones for Family Guy, Kung Fu Panda, and Indiana Jones. Each page of these books will cover a different element of the theme and can translate into hours of entertainment.

Mad Libs can easily be played on its own, without revealing too much information on the subject. On the back of each page is a sequential list of required words for the next page, which the solo player can fill out and then add to the next game. However, solo players should be warned to play with some caution, as howling with laughter over a big line can result in a lot of strange looks in your direction. If this is the case, offer to let anyone nearby join the game — two people laughing hysterically are much more socially acceptable than one.

Mad Libs are wonderful for long drives and parties and can be truly enjoyed by anyone with a good grasp of vocabulary. Hunting for verbs, adjectives and nouns can be beneficial for children, as it will improve their concepts of word categories. However, educational value aside, the game is a lot of fun and remains a consistently popular novelty gift.

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