Who/What is National Lampoon?

I KNOW that I should know this, but I can’t remember. The other day a BAD movie was on satellite - National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze. My honey asked me “What is National Lampoon anyway?” I was stumped, maybe because I’m Canadian.

Thank you,

Thanks for making some of us feel ancient.

It was a humor magazine of the '70s – an offshoot of the Harvard Lampoon, IIRC.

I think it’s because (s)he’s Canuck.

I mean, I knew what it was, and I couldn’t read yet in the 70’s.

I never knew either, and I’m a Brit. “**National Lampoon’s ** European Vacation” - is that meant to mean something to me? Well, now it does. Kind of. Thank god for the SDMB.

I never knew that. I always asumed you were American.

It was called “National Lampoon’s European Vacation…” because the owners of NL the magazine were trying to associate its name recognition with movie production. In the late 70s, NL the magazine was failing. But they had produced a hit movie called “Animal House,” so they decided to go into the movie business.

I feel soooooo old. The January 1973 issue sported a cute dog with a gun held to its head and the copy, “Buy this magazine or we’ll kill the dog”. Good times.


No, British (Home Counties) born and bred.

Help, I’m being assimilated :eek:

Must… stop… reading… American… websites…

I’m Canadian, too, and I know what it is/was. My dad had a pretty hefty collection of them at one time.

Here are a few links about Doug Kenney, one of the founders of the magazine, yet virtually unknown.
Article 1
Article 2
Article 3
Maybe these will give you an idea about who the man was.

They have a website. Seems they drifted a little rightward politically vs what I recall of the magazine. They were still around at least as late as the mid80s. This link has a lot of their old material - still pretty funny stuff.

FWIW the Vacation movie franchise came from a story in the magazine called Vacation '58. The first movie was modestly true to the story aside from a contemporary setting and substituting Wally World for Disneyland.

What he said. If you’re not familiar with the Harvard Lampoon, start here. The NatLamp actually lasted into the 1990s, though it had long since ceased to be very funny by then. The early 1970s were its golden era, with Henry Beard, Doug Kenney, and Tony Hendra leading the way – Hendra’s memoir of those days appeared in *Harper’s * a couple of years ago. This period also saw the National Lampoon Radio Hour, a sketch comedy radio show that was often screamingly funny, and occasionally amazingly unfunny. Certain sketches ("The Immigrants", “Catch It and You Keep It”, the Mr. Rogers parodies, and others) became a permanent part of the psyches of many of us who came of age in the 1970s and early 1980s – there was a group of us in college who could each be reduced to giggling fits by the mere utterance of selected phrases from “The Immigrants”, for instance. The talent on the Radio Hour was amazing – pretty much the entire cast and writing staff of the early years of *Saturday Night Live * (John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase, Brian Doyle Murray, Bill Murray, Anne Beatts, Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Richard Belzer, and the creator of the NLRH, Michael O’Donoghue), plus Harold Ramis and Joe Flaherty (Second City alums along with Murray, Belushi, et al.), later of SCTV. Here’s a link to an NPR story about the Radio Hour with some excerpts.

Once the Radio Hour imploded, Lorne Michaels hired most of the troupe for Saturday Night Live, which sort of shut off TV as a venue for the National Lampoon. Eventually, they turned their attention to movies, beginning of course withNational Lampoon’s Animal House, and continuing with all those vacation movies and the rest of the sophomoric, unfunny dreck they’ve cranked out through the years (at least a dozen more, according to IMDB).

Once all the talented folks were acting or writing on SNL or other places, it didn’t take long for the rot to set in at the magazine. It always amazed me that it lasted as long as it did.

Many of America’s greatest satirists were contributors to National Lampoon. A partial list:

PJ O’Rourke
Michael O’Donoghue
Henry Beard
Tony Hendra Sean Kelly
John Hughes
Peter Gaffney
Jack Handey
Michel Choquette
B. Kliban
MK Brown
Gahan Wilson
Shary Flenniken
Paul Krassner

Several members of the old Saturday Night Live cast got their first major exposure from National Lampoon stage and radio projects:
Bill Murray
John Belushi
Chevy Chase
Gilda Radner

Melissa Manchwester, of al people, was the pianist on “Magical Misery Tour,” a collection of authentic John Lennon quotes strung together into a semi-coherant song

They had lots of part- and one-time contributors who probably should have known better:

John Lennon
Yoko Ono
Robert Crumb
Edward Gorey

The magazine didn’t last long after Beard, Kennedy and O’Rourke left abruptly, and while the name was attached to a couple of very successful movies in the 70s/early 80s, it was also attached to some embarrassing bombs; the last Vacation movie dropped NatLamp from its title.

Magazine publishers are notorious in their avoidance of serious satire. Excluding children’s concerns like MAD and its obvious imitators, no satirical magazine in America has been as influential or durable (LAMPOON continued publishing–infrequently–into the early 90s), although SPY made a respectable stab about ten years ago. It’s as close as this country ever came to producing a PUNCH or KROKODIL.

Okayyyyyyyyyyy it’s ringing a bell, sorta. I thought it was some kind of magazine or something … :smack:

Anyway, does someone (or something) own the rights to the “National Lampoon” brand? How does it get attached to crap movies like Dorm Daze & the one Paris Hilton is currently filming?

Thanks for educating a couple of Canucks by the way …

What many people consider the final death blow to TNL was its purchase by Tim Matheson who had played “Otter” in “Animal House”. TNL makes him a star and he rewards them by driving it into the ground (not that it wasn’t that far from it already).

“Animal House” was also based on stories that had appeared in TNL earlier. The stories were in turned based on the college days of the writers at places such as Dartmouth.

The writers of “Animal House” hated the Greek system and tried to portray it as absolutely rotten to the core. The success of the movie strangely revived the then dying Frat houses due to idiots thinking that being “fat, drunk and stupid” is a good way to spend your college years. Sheesh.

And yeah. “Spy Magazine”. Wow. Retro memory rush.

I keep hoping they’ll scan every issue and put them out on DVD-ROM.
(or CD-ROM, I’m not picky).

Hendra’s done this before. Way back in 1987 he published Going Too Far: The Rise and Demise of Sick, Gross, Black, Sophomoric, Weirdo, Pinko, Anarchist, Underground, Anti-Establishment Humor, pretty much the whole second half of which is his account of the Lampoon.

For a very, very different take read Matty Simmons’ If You Don’t Buy This Book, We’ll Kill This Dog!": Life, Laughs, Love, and Death at the National Lampoon. Simmons was the adult who financed the Harvard Lampoon child geniuses who thought they were re-creating The New Yorker. It all ends badly.

Animal House was based on a series of stories about college life by Chris Miller. They were all supposedly thinly disguised autobiography. Miller didn’t hate the frat system - he was part of it, loved it and glorified it. He’s quoted for pages on this in Hendra’s book.

(italics in original.)

Other Miller stories were the basis of National Lampoon’s Vacation.

You could argue that the magazine’s heyday ended when the spirit switched over from Beard and Kenney to Miller, but you can’t dispute that he made them more money than any other individual.

Yeah, but the Harper’s article was available for linking :wink:

The National Lampoon website has reprinted many of the classic NatLamp stories. Some highlights are the O.C. and Stiggs saga, Michael O’Donoghue’s How to Write Good, Chris Miller’s bizarre Remembering Mama, John Hughes’s My Vagina, P.J. O’Rourke’s Foreigner from Around the World (as politically incorrect as anything could be), and, of course the Letters column, which defined outrageous humor.

Next to Mad, the Lampoon was the most influential humor magazine ever.