Mad Libs creator Leonard B. Stern dies at 88


Mad Libs creator Leonard B. Stern died this week. Obituary writers seized the opportunity to insert blank spaces and [adverb] [noun] [adjective]s in their homages, to mimic the format of Mr. Stern's famous creation in cheap pursuit of lulz. Mr. Stern was also a prolific, Emmy-winning television writer who would have come up with more original material.

Around the web: New York Times, Reuters, Washington Post, NPR, Variety, LA Times.

Scanned vintage Mad Libs cover from the Flickr stream of Dan Goodsell. A very politically incorrect early page found at this blog, along with a nice collection of other vintage covers.


  1. Awww. RIP Mr. Stern.

    I LOVE Mad Libs! I grew up playing Mad Libs since I was a little girl – and STILL sometimes [drunkenly] play Mad Libs with my friends nowadays. (I’m in my mid-30’s now.)

    Yay for Mad Libs!! Thanks for all of the silly laughs. :)

    1. Wow… Who doesn’t like Mad Libs? It’s unheard of.

      Marmite, on the other hand… brrr.

  2. Man… when you are at that right age… 3rd or 4th grade, NOTHING is funnier than a well placed ‘fuck’ or ‘fart’ in a Mad Lib. AND – it is very educational – you actually pay attention now to what a noun, adverb, or adjective is.

    1. Or the (in)appropriate body part.

      Mad Libs kept my son entertained through many a long trip and occasional slow service when he was younger. It is one of those things I never even thought that the inventor was even known.

  3. My sister and I would laugh ourselves silly with MadLibs when we were kids. This is very (adjective) news, indeed.

  4. these were the best find in the airport news stands, better than the 3for1 comic book packs.

  5. I see old, yellowing copies of MAD LIBS at secondhand bookshops and yard sales. They’re one of the most prevalent pieces of printed material in history. However, I’ve never picked up a copy. MAD LIBS along with crossword puzzles and Sudoko always seem like a good waste of time. If I’m going to waste time on a plane or waiting to see my dentist I’ll read an actual book with content

    PS – comedian RICH HALL did some sort of advanced version of MAD LIBS called SNIGLETS – it made him a multi-millionaire many times over.

    1. The big difference between Mad Libs and puzzles like crosswords, Sudoku, etc. is that Mad Libs were designed to be enjoyed by a group as opposed to the individual. I can recall many hours of laughter playing MadLibs with family and friends. Crosswords are more of a solitary pursuit.

      I don’t know if I agree with your use of the words “wasting time” in reference to this. In my experience, there have been countless hours where I am in some in-between state, not sleepy enough to sleep, but not awake/engaged enough to read anything serious. (Exactly like those times sitting in a waiting room or in a plane train bus). Sometimes a little bit of easily-attained mental stimulation is what I need.

      Life is short. And it is regrettable that we all, occasionally, find ourselves in need of a way to “kill” (as opposed to “waste”) some time.

      1. “Life is short. And it is regrettable that we all, occasionally, find ourselves in need of a way to “kill” (as opposed to “waste”) some time”

        I have the same bias against playing cards, playing Monopoly or playing “inside games” in general. Specifically I’d rather just sit and think or let my mind ramable to lofty places than fill time (or kill time) filling in blanks in a game book or trying to get my Monopoly top hat out of jail.

        And the absolute worst thing I can hear while visiting friends
        or at a dinner party is “Hey everybody! let’s play dominoes!”

        1. I really do understand your point and agree with it in principle. BUT, If I’m at some dinner party or whatever, I think a game of risk or monopoly or even dominoes is usually preferable to everyone just sitting there rambling in their own thoughts.

          Yeah, it would be great if we could always have lively, entertaining, enlightening discussions in these situations, but that’s not always possible. People tend to need some kind of outside focus (or distraction?), in order for the pot to start to simmer.

          Right now, I’m just sitting here with the cat on my lap, looking at the Boingboing, halfheartedly arguing with you when I COULD be either reading or writing something serious. I really just want to go to sleep. But I know that as soon as I lie down my wife will call and tell me she’s ready to be picked up from school. It’s either this or MadLibs.

          I mean this is fun, but it’s not rocket science. I appreciate your time, but to be honest, three days from now, I will have forgotten all about this conversation and it probably won’t have seriously impacted my life, or yours.

          Hope you get the spirit of what I’m trying to say. :)

          1. “Hope you get the spirit of what I’m trying to say. :)”

            Yes, and to a large extent life is nothing but a game which in turn is full of game. We all cope differently in times of blankness and boredom, and one person’s excruciating wait in a dentist office is another’s chance to expand their mind with a dog-eared copy of “Future Shock”

            Like a lot of people, I tend to run around all frantic most of the time, so I tend to welcome big, blank boring chunks of nothing time, whether it’s down time in a dull and dreary waiting room or waiting in line for the doors to “Hangover II” to open.

            I think my point is that many, many people are uncomfortable with their own selves and thoughts and perhaps feel the frantic need to fill that perceived “void” with number games and card games and myriad other games. I have friends who simply freak out when they have nothing to fiddle with or compete against.

            Spare time is a rare commodity these days!

          2. “many people are uncomfortable with their own selves and thoughts and perhaps feel the frantic need to fill that perceived “void”…”

            Yes. Well said, and on this we can totally agree. +1

    2. >you say that now, but what say you at age 10.
      >sniglets is in its own realm of supreme delectability.
      >those yard sales represent little kids. i hope it was a lot.

  6. Sniglets and Mad Libs are not at all alike. Sniglets were invented words and terms originally sent in by viewers of NOT NECESSARILY THE NEWS.

  7. aWWW, R.I.P.

    LOVE MadLibs. I sometimes carry a book of them around, or tear out one page and give it to someone to do later- people in bars have fun with them! :)

    Since I was a kid I’ve MadLibbed (?) with my sisters and fellow Girl Scouts; putting some variation of FUCK in every blank, heehee!… I do think they helped me really appreciate sentence structure and language as a whole.

  8. I almost finagled a moist boner when I freaked out about this news. A purple butt could lazily convey my ambition.

  9. I think the last few generations of kids pretty much learned parts of speech playing this game.

    The most educational use of “butt”, “turd”, and “fucking” known to mankind!

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