Read All About It: The Shady Dealer

Publishing satirical news, The Shady Dealer is UChicago's only "intentional" humor publication
Shady Dealer UChicago student publications satire the onion
Photo by: 
Zola Yi, College Visual Media Editor, Class of 2020
Writing comedy gives us the freedom to be critical, and we believe that it is our job to direct our social criticism at entities more powerful than us
Jacob Levin
Class of 2018

Name: The Shady Dealer

Established in: 2004

Editors-in-Chief: Jacob Levin (A.B., S.B. ’18) and Teddy Zamborsky (S.B. ’18)

Headquarters: The apartment of whoever will agree to store the magazine’s issue archives. This year, the apartment shared by Levin and Zamborsky’s girlfriend.

Most memorable submission: One writer once offered to be buried alive and naked in a time capsule as part of an ambitious April Fools’ Day project. The project never came to fruition.

How to get involved: Simply come to one of the Dealer’s pitch meetings, which are held every Sunday at 7:00 pm in Harper 145.

Where to find it on campus: The magazine is distributed to dorms, libraries, dining halls, and various buildings around campus. Or you can go to their website and follow them on social media.

One of the most popular publications on campus, The Shady Dealer espouses itself as the “only intentional humor publication on the UChicago campus.” And that captures the paper’s mission: poking fun at everything and everyone.

The Dealer provides the student body with some much-needed comic relief through satirical news, much like The Onion. Articles often poke fun at topical campus events, the administration, or just the realities of being a college student at UChicago.

“[We] run The Shady Dealer with two goals,” says Levin. “The first one is to be funny, plain and simple. Satire does not work well as social commentary if it can’t make the reader laugh.

“The second one is to ‘punch up,’ as we like to put it. Writing comedy gives us the freedom to be critical, and we believe that it is our job to direct our social criticism at entities more powerful than us.”

Their headlines certainly seem to do just that.

Old White Man Painted,” one reads, in reference to the prevalence of public commemoration of white men.

I Close Slowly Because I Hate You,” says another, supposedly written from the point of view of a Regenstein Library elevator.

Of course, there’s more to an article than just a headline. Each article maintains the strictest fake journalistic standards, and is sure to “quote” all the relevant parties involved. Because, with a headline like “Kid Behind Me Won’t Stop Answering Rhetorical Questions in Class,” readers are looking for the full story.

With such high stakes, it takes a lot to run a fake news team. But the pressure never gets to Levin and Zamborsky, who  have been involved with The Dealer since fall quarter of their first year, after attending their first Sunday night pitch meeting in Harper. Levin says that they were both immediately attracted to the friendly, welcoming environment.

“The pitches made us laugh, the meetings had great energy, the editors were welcoming and friendly, and there was a distinct feeling of pride in watching an issue grow from a bunch of ideas to [a stack of] newspapers with polished articles and professional-looking Photoshops,” said Levin. “This was a great way to get out and meet funny people without ever being more than a moderate time commitment.”

Now, two years later, Levin and Zamborsky are co-editors-in-chief. While trying to be funny can be incredibly stressful, that’s all part of the process. Levin says part of being a good comedian is being comfortable enough in your own skin to sometimes throw out “some absolute nonsense in the hopes of finding a workable idea.”

John W Boyer UChicago Dean of the College Shady Dealer Satire

“One of the biggest challenges of the editor-in-chief is to create an environment that is open to all ideas and encourages participation, so if we can accomplish that, we will have done our job.”

As for the future of The Dealer, Levin says that the organization hopes to experiment with the format of the paper, possibly adding in some real interviews, monthly columns, fake advertisements, or even live performances. Their so-called experimentation has already begun. Last quarter, the two editors-in-chief sat down with Dean of the College John W. Boyer for a six-minute interview on everything from college rankings to his status as a meme.

Other than that, Levin says that The Dealer will also focus largely on fundraising this year. Knowing the creativity of his staff, he says “You’re going to want to buy what we make.”

The Dealer’s staff is brimming with energy putting their creativity and intelligence to good use, creating hysterical content that sometimes only UChicago students could fully appreciate. Whether it’s joking about Nietzsche or the Mansueto Library, publication’s quirkiness is quintessentially UChicago (even IF most of the paper is making fun of UChicago’s quintessential quirkiness).

Tagged: The Shady Dealer, John W. Boyer, satire, student publications, student newspapers