2004-12-28 / Front Page
Magazine writing does the Trick for local teen
Ben Kharakh embraces raunchy humor with his One Trick Pony
BY KAREN E. BOWES
Ben Kharakh is there to fill the void. The 17-year-old has been hard at work creating One Trick Pony, a humor magazine that publishes, among many other things, lists such as “Reality TV Shows That Are Already in Production.”
“Please Stop Crying” will show shocking footage of 8-year-old girls throwing fits at the mall; “Off the Wagon” features contestants competing to encourage recovering alcoholics to drink again; and “Please Give Me My Insulin or I’ll Die” has diabetics going to outrageous lengths to get their precious “life juice,” which has been stolen and hidden from them, according to the magazine.
Of course, none of these shows will ever see the light of day. The only place to see them is on Kharakh’s online magazine, and even there it’s simply the idea of them that’s intended to be funny.
One Trick Pony, the self-published humor magazine, is the brainchild of Kharakh and Dan Baumgarten, 17, both of Middletown.
“The idea behind One Trick Pony is it’s just me doing all the writing,” said Kharakh.
Although some of the pieces in the debut issue are written under pseudonyms, every word of the 27-page magazine comes from the irreverent mind of Kharakh, including the 11-line poem titled “About an STD of My Choosing,” that Kharakh insists was the result of a ninth-grade health class assignment.
“That’s public education for you at its finest,” said Baumgarten, who handles the technical end of the Web site, uploading images and text to the site, along with adding links.
Kharakh started the project after being rejected from several established magazines.
“I would send stuff out and it would take a while to get a response. I would forget I even sent it out, so I would get a response back and it would be a surprise letter of rejection,” explained Kharakh.
English teacher Robert Sherman of the Monmouth County Communications High School, Wall, encouraged Kharakh’s efforts.
“Ben’s a really talented kid,” said Sherman. “He’s the most talented writer I’ve come across teaching. He has that sense of humor you see on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and those other shows. I don’t laugh that easily, and I laughed at some of the stuff he showed me.”
Kharakh dabbles in stand-up comedy as well, having performed at several high school talent shows.
“He used to do these parodies of Arnold Schwarzenegger that were hilarious,” said his teacher.
“It’s funny to put Arnold in strange situations and see how he’d react, like have him land on ‘The Planet of the Apes,’ ” said Kharakh. “Or traveling around in the future, killing various people.”
A senior, Kharakh has applied and been accepted to Rutgers University, New Brunswick. However, he’s not so sure he wants to attend.
“Rather than study and talk about writing, I’m just going to write,” said Kharakh. “That’s the future of Ben.”
The prolific writer is now working on a second issue. One list to look forward to: “What to Do with 100 Boxes of Candy Canes.”
“They were 10 cents a box, and I can’t resist a bargain,” said Kharakh. “I built forts out of them, spelled out words with them, like ‘hello’ and ‘die,’ built a coffin and lay in it. I do things like this just so I can talk about it later.”
The 17-year-old will also be writing about his bus driver, whom he calls his archnemesis, and an unnamed teacher he’s had several times who has an annoying habit of repeating herself.
“It was fitting to repeat our redundant, repetitious teacher,” said Baumgarten.
“I’m hoping word of this will spread,” Kharakh said of his publication. “I went to Red Bank — it’s the cultural center of this part of New Jersey — and handed it out. I told some people about it, and they told some people about it.”
“And I’ll get around to telling some people about it someday,” joked Baumgarten.
One Trick Pony can be seen at http://otp.freeshell.org/.