Paul Slansky has been making fun of politicians since, at the age of ten, he was first appalled by Richard M. Nixon. He is the author of six books: The Clothes Have No Emperor: A Chronicle of the American ’80s (1989), Dan Quayle: Airhead Apparent (1992, with Steve Radlauer), The George W. Bush Quiz Book (2004), My Bad: The Apology Anthology (2006), Idiots, Hypocrites, Demagogues and More Idiots: Five Decades of Political Infamy (2008), and The Little Quiz Book of Big Political Sex Scandals (2009). In 2011, he reissued The Clothes Have No Emperor as an e-book.
His profiles, essays, and humor pieces have appeared in The New Yorker (where his political and cultural quizzes have been a frequent feature for over a dozen years), the legendary Spy magazine, and, among dozens of other publications, Esquire (where he co-ordinated the annual Dubious Achievements Awards feature throughout the 1980s), The New York Observer, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Playboy, and The New Republic.
Several of his pieces have been included in anthologies, among them The Eminem Collection, The Enlightened Bracketologist, Very Seventies: A Cultural History of the 1970s From the Pages of Crawdaddy, and The I Hate George W. Bush Reader. He worked as an editor at New Times magazine and The Soho Weekly News. He currently blogs for The Huffington Post, for whose now defunct humor website 23/6 he compiled over one hundred quizzes about various political and pop cultural topics. In 2008, he created the weekly news index format for Time.com.
He is the co-writer of the feature film Picture Perfect (1997), and co-creator of the NBC situation comedy Fired Up (1997-98).
His sensibility has been compared to those of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and The Onion. In a 2006 column in The New York Observer, veteran journalist Ron Rosenbaum, who described him as a “documentary satirist,” wrote:
“Coming upon one of Mr. Slansky’s ‘Quizzes’ in The New Yorker and other venues is one of the rare pure comic-satiric pleasures to be found in contemporary periodicals … [he] has made an art out of scouring public, mostly political, utterances for emblematic instances of verbal misdeeds, misspeaks and mystifications, the more bizarre the better, all of which deserve more than their 15 seconds of ridicule … But Mr. Slansky does more than document; he possesses, like the great satirists, a Swiftian disgust at human folly … Another thing about Mr. Slansky: He doesn’t feel he has to spell everything out, connect the dots for you, jab you in the elbow and say, ‘See the relatedness of it all.’ He respects your intelligence.”
He also edited Carrie Fisher’s first book, Postcards From the Edge (1987), and worked closely with Norman Lear on his 2014 memoir, Even This I Get to Experience. As Mr. Lear said in the acknowledgements, “Beyond essential to my actual writing was Paul Slansky. In addition to his aid and support as researcher, editor and chief advisor, he was as hard-working and dedicated as he was a delight to work with. If a book can be said to have had a producer, Paul was it on this one.”
Slansky’s self-described mission is “Amassing a memory for Americans allergic to accountability and addicted to amnesia.”