National Gorilla Suit Day, which mysteriously falls on January 31 of each year, is perhaps the important holiday of the year. Every National Gorilla Suit Day, people of all shapes and colors around the world get their gorilla suits out of the closet, put them on and go door-to-door.
That's really all there is to it. You don't have to buy gifts. You don't have to fast, although some Orthodox Gorilla Suiters do. If you want to have a parade, fine. Just make sure all the marchers are wearing gorilla suits and that all the balloons are giant, inflatable gorillas.
National Gorilla Suit Day was invented by "Mad's Maddest Artist" (i.e., the weirdest of all the cartoonists in Mad Magazine), Don Martin...and maybe also by E. Solomon Rosenblum, a writer who collaborated with him on the 1964 paperback book, Don Martin Bounces Back! The book was reissued several times and was among the best-selling of the Mad paperback series.
In its lead story, the irascible Fester Bestertester sits in his breakfast room, explaining the concept of National Gorilla Suit Day to his friend, Karbunkle. Fester finds the whole holiday repulsive and as he discusses it with Karbunkle, a number of gorilla-suiters come to his door and proceed to pummel, bash and otherwise maim him. At one point, three men arrive from the Senate Anti-Trust Committee, inviting him to testify against the leading manufacturers of gorilla suits...
And then they, like all the other gorilla-suiters and even a few Abominable Snowmen, beat the crap out of him. It's a very funny story and no one who's read it will ever forget it. Unfortunately, the book is long out of print. Moreover, Mr. Martin was not on good terms with Mad Magazine when he died and since the copyright on the book is a joint one, it may be some time before there's ever a deal to reprint it. It does, however, turn up fairly often on eBay and rarely goes for more than a few dollars.
Martin's other Mad paperbacks are pretty good, too. So were his cartoons for Mad and later, after he departed on the aforementioned not-good terms, for Cracked. He really was a very funny man. So this year, as you traipse about the neighborhood in your gorilla suit, pause for a moment and remember Don Martin...the man who made it all happen.