Writer/Publisher Randy Cassingham is the Internet’s longest running “feature columnist”: his flagship weekly This is True® started in June 1994, and shows no sign of stopping.
Early on after getting scads of media attention, Randy was offered a contract by the then-largest newspaper feature distributor, Creators Syndicate. He turned it down, reasoning that newspapers would not fare well against the “most powerful printing press ever invented,” the Internet.
True is social commentary with “weird” news as its vehicle so it’s fun to read. Its mission follows Randy’s life mission: to provoke more thinking in the world. Hence True’s motto, “Thought-Provoking Entertainment”.
Other Online Publishing Projects
Randy didn’t stop with one. His work also includes:
- The Internet Spam Primer (founded December 1996) grew out of Randy warning his readers that “spam” (junk email) was going to turn into a big problem. As it grew longer it was made available as an email autoresponder, and then moved to its own web site in June 2002. It is periodically updated and (sadly) expanded.
- The Honorary Unsubscribe (founded January 1998) is a subfeature in the True newsletter featuring “The People You Will Wish You Had Known” — but, lamentably, you cannot meet: each honoree is recently deceased. It runs weekly unless Randy cannot find someone who died in the previous week who meets his criteria.
- HeroicStories (founded April 1999) allows readers to submit stories about cool people who did something “heroic” to help others. It was spun off to another publisher in January 2003.
- Get Out of Hell Free® (founded April 2000) started as a response to a reader who told Randy he was (without any doubt) going to hell for a story he wrote. Not a content site per se, “GOOHF” turned into a viral offline/online phenomenon with actual printed Get Out of Hell Free cards: to date, more than 2.1 million have been sold and, presumably, mostly given to others.
- Randy’s Random (founded December 2000) was a long-form humor email list which ended in September 2002 after 172 issues. Readers were unhappy about that, so those humor items then found a home at a new site, also featuring long-form humor, Jumbo Joke (founded April 2004), which continued with new material through June 2016, when it was sold to a new publisher who …never got it back online. But “Random” was reborn in January 2017 as a cartoon/meme site, and still continues to be another of Randy’s creative outlets.
- The True Stella Awards® (founded February 2002, but not launched until that September) turned an urban legend on its head. If crazy lawsuits were an actual problem, then why did everyone online cite fake cases to illustrate that problem? Randy figured he could easily find enough true cases to create a publication out of them. Book rights went up for auction among New York publishers; that was won with Dutton (a division of Penguin/Random House) paying a six-figure advance. Having said everything he wanted to on the subject, Randy shut it down at the end of 2007.
- Uncommon Sense is Randy’s podcast, exploring people who exhibit more than mere common sense (which is rare enough already). It began July 2017, then revamped and relaunched in September 2018 on an occasional basis.
- What It’s Like to… (founded February 2021) is Randy’s latest creation. While Randy writes some of the stories, readers write most of them (which are then professionally edited by Randy and his wife, Kit). They tell readers the story of What It’s Like to Save a Life, Be a B&B Innkeeper, Donate a Kidney — nearly any experience is fair game.
Interviews/profiles of Randy Cassingham include:
- the Los Angeles Times in January 1996
- the pop culture magazine Brutarian in January 2001
- and Tedium in January 2020.
“January seems to be a good month for interviews,” he says.
In addition to the above, Randy has occasionally written for other media, including Playboy, and was a Contributing Editor for Skeptic magazine. He lives in rural western Colorado, where he and his wife volunteer as medics with their county’s EMS agency.
To Contact Randy use the form here.