Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Remember when the National Lampoon was funny, when it was a reliable brand-name signifying a generation’s iconoclastic, revolutionary impulses channeled through the art of making people (and not just like-minded people) laugh? Well, the Cinefamily does, and as part of their 2nd Annual Comedy festival Hadrian Belove and the folks at the Cinefamily are marshaling together a 40th Anniversary tribute to the cultural legacy of the Lampoon, from whence an entire generation of writers, actors and directors (The Not- Ready for Prime Time Players, Harold Ramis, Doug Kinney, John Hughes, et al.) sprung and refashioned the world of movie and TV comedy in their own rambunctious images. The tribute gets under way here in Los Angeles on Friday night, June 27, beginning with some rare archival material from the National Lampoon vault. The goodies include Lemmings, a document of the Woodstock parody that featured Chevy Chase, John Belushi and Christopher Guest, among many others, sticking it to the baby boomer mythology as only baby boomers like these could; Disco Beaver from Outer Space, originally produced and aired on a then-nascent HBO and very much a partner-in-crime with Saturday Night Live in its prime as a chronicle and a dissection of Carter-era indulgences, controversies and Formica-covered malaise; and Class of ‘86, in which the Yuppies are led to the slaughter, again by a staff of comedy talent that found itself taking its swings from deep within the target zone, within a comedy paradigm that had not lost its irreverence but could now accommodate attitudes and points of view with which even a college-age George W. Bush could have found favor.

The evening climaxes with a 35mm screening of the unexpected comedy classic National Lampoon’s Animal House, which remains the nuclear core of an entire movement of “Us vs. Them” comedy that has never been approached, let alone surpassed, for sheer hilarity. The Cinefamily promises an appearance by original National Lampoon editor Matty Simmons, who commissioned the production of Animal House under his magazine’s banner, plus plenty of other surprise (and not-yet-confirmed) Lampoon-era guests.

The party, co-sponsored by the L.A. Weekly, gets fired up this coming Friday, June 25, at 8:00 p.m.

And to get you in the mood, here’s a gallery of Lampoon-related treats.

Remember Anita Bryant? Despite your efforts to forget, remember you will after this brief clip from the Disco Beaver special entitled “Homo No Mo.”

And here’s John Belushi and the beginning of Lemmings: Dead In Concert (1973).

Speaking of Woodstock gods, here's the Lampoon's dead-on Neil Young parody "Southern California Brings Me Down" (Thanks, Patrick!)

A gallery of favorite National Lampoon covers, 1970-1977.

And finally, some links to a month-long series of articles I posted two summers ago on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the release of National Lampoon’s Animal House:

A feature-length commentary recorded by myself and my best friend, Bruce Lundy. We met on the set of Animal House in 1977 and here spend two hours recalling the making of the movie from our own unique third-ant-from-the-left perspective.

A post in honor of the day of the movie’s 30th birthday.

A series of interviews conducted by cast member Mark Metcalf (Doug Neidermeyer to you).

Some remembrances and video footage of life on the set during the filming of the movie’s parade sequence.

A brief consideration of the politics of Animal House.

The initial post announcing the month of articles devoted to Animal House features some good pictures of an earlier Animal House reunion.

And finally, my own remembrance of The Day I Met John Belushi.



Ivan G Shreve Jr said...

Remember when the National Lampoon was funny

What a memory you have!

All seriousness aside -- great piece, Dennis.

Peter Nellhaus said...

I remember reading some of those issues of "National Lampoon". For a while there, I picked up every issue during my undergrad years at NYU.

Richard Doyle said...

I own this:


It's seriously worth getting.

Greg said...

Yeah, really Ivan, how good does Dennis think our memories are?

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Peter: I was "too young" for the Lampoon in 1970 (10 years old), which made me seek it out even more, as I figured being seen reading it made me seem more sophisticated. (I always identified more with the kids who were five or six years older than me anyway.)

Ivan: Tell my wife! I'm sure she's already gotten a laugh from your comment already, though!

Richard: I'm very interested in the DVD-ROM, but I read some of the reviews on Amazon which were generally enthusiastic about the item, but were critical of the quality of some of the scans and also the general interactivity of the files.

Greg: Only as good as my own, I thin-- Huh? Only as good as my own, I think. Huh? Only as...