Apparently, they go on to write for children’s television. Sean Kelly, Ellis Weiner, and Brian McConnachie all write regularly for Noddy, a PBS children’s program about a mentally ill young boy (Truman) who has vivid hallucinations regarding his grandfather’s toy shop in which he believes all the toys are alive. McConnachie also wrote for Shining Time Station, a show about talking trains which featured George Carlin as a six-inch-tall station master. (If you are familiar with McConnachie’s work in National Lampoon, all of this makes perfect sense.) Peter Gaffney, a NatLamp editor in the early ’80s, was one of the creators of Rugrats and wrote many of the early shows. It’s good to know our nation’s youth is in their capable hands.
National Lampoon Radio Hour alum Christopher Guest has just come out with a new movie called “Best In Show” building on the same mock-documentary improvisational technique that gave us “Waiting for Guffman” and “This Is Spinal Tap.” All the major cast from “Guffman” return (in different roles) including Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hare (both SCTV alums), Fred Willard, and Parker Posey. The premise this time is the mildly bizarre world of people who enter their dogs into dog shows.
National Lampoon alum Tony Hendra recently launched a humor website / publishing company called Gigawit (www.gigawit.com). It would be perhaps unfair to compare it with National Lampoon Dot Com, but I will anyway. While they are in the same general ballpark humorwize, they are at opposite ends of the spectrum on the presentation scale. While National Lampoon Dot Com sports a cluttered, sleezy, not-quite-done-by-professionals look that makes the early issues of the National Lampoon look like Martha Stewart Living, Gigawit looks tasteful almost to a fault but feels uncomfortably light on content. Hopefully, that will change (the part about the content, I mean). Inspite of the selfconsciously-drole little cartoonies sprinkled throughout the site, it shows some promise of being a genuinely funny alternative to the how-low-can-you-go-for-laugh school that seems to prevail elsewhere (including National Lampoon Dot Com).
(I sometimes wonder if some serious misunderstanding occurred back in the ’70s in regards to National Lampoon‘s approach to humor. They didn’t care if they offended anyone as long as it was funny. Some people seem to have concluded from this that offensive=funny. That’s my theory, anyway.)
Hendra has an interesting strategy. In addition to the website, Gigawit also plans to publish books using an on-demand distribution system that skips the traditional publishing industry. It’s also actively soliciting submissions and contributions from anyone who think’s they’re funny.
Update: Gigawit appears to be gone. Hard to tell since I don’t read Chinese.
In fall of 1999, National Lampoon, which ceased publication about a year before, went online as National Lampoon Dot Com (www.nationallampoon.com). At first, there was just a teaser—a rather lame Flash animation. A little while later, the site debuted. It was more flash (literally) than substance and had a lot of annoying sound effects. Recently, it has settled into a more conservative mode of presentation and has generally gotten better. It’s still a pales when compared the magazine at its height, but it’s not without merit. The new material on the site is like a less sophisticated (and less funny for the most part) version of Modern Humorist or The Onion.
The best part—especially for fans of the early years—is the Flashback section, where they have slowly been building up a collection of articles from past issues and bits from the Radio Hour, including many things I get queries about. A good example that really takes advantage of the internet is Tony Hendra’s “Deteriorata,” a parody of the hoary old dorm poster blather “Desiderata.” Not only are the complete words there—including a PDF facsimilie of the poster you can print out—there is also the audio version from Radio Dinner in its entirety (albeit with a rather goofy and gratuitous bit of animation) as a bonus.
Here is a list of some of the articles and bits they have put online:
P.J. O’Rourke’s “Foreigners Around the World”
Tony Hendra’s “Deteriorata” from National Lampoon’s Radio Dinner
John Hughes’ “Vacation ’58”
Michael O’Donoghue’s “The Churchill Wit” and “The Vietnamese Baby Book,”
John Weidmann’s “Are You a Homo?”
Doug Kenney’s “First Blow Job”
Gerald Sussman’s “Dogfishing in America”
Michel Choquette’s “Stranger in Paradise”
“Gymnasty” from “That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick!”
Now, if they will put up the Mr. Rogers/bass player bit from “That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick!” maybe people will finally stop bugging me.
(Note to National Lampoon Dot Com’s “Scanner Bitch” (who I know visits here from time to time): Strongly consider adding the following articles: John Hughes’ “My Vagina” and “My Penis,” B.K. Taylor’s “The Appletons” and “Timberland Tales,” Micheal O’Donoghue’s “How to Write Good,” any of Ted Mann and Todd Carroll’s “O.C. & Stiggs” pieces, “Bernie X”…
Update: They’ve apparently removed the Flashback section some time ago. Bummer.
Astute readers of Mark’s Very Large National Lampoon Site will notice that it is now searchable. This much needed enhancement was made possible by the good folks at Atomz.com and their wonderful search engine. So now all you people wondering about which LP had that Mr. Rogers bit can find it yourselves without my help. And you don’t even need to know how to spell (good thing!). 2010 or so Update: The search feature has been broken for a while. February 2017 Update: It’s back and much improved.
Have you ever wished you could have every back issue of National Lampoon?
I have learned that there is a project underway by some of the people at National Lampoon Dot Com (see below) to put all the back issues of National Lampoon magazine on CD-ROM in an indexed, searchable, easy-to-use format. MAD magazine has already done this with their Totally MAD CD-ROM collection released a year or two ago. Show your support for this product. It will save you the trouble of scouring comic book shops to get the old Lampoons you remember. E-mail email@example.com and let them know you’d buy it.
It’s so sad when the news page on a website hasn’t been updated in a year. Has it really been that long? I plan to post more timely updates from now on. (And that includes the Classifieds page.)
An acquaintance of his has informed me that B.K. Taylor, the artist and writer responsible for The Appletons and Timberland Tales comic strips that appeared regularly for years in the National Lampoon, has a deal with a major television company. No more details, other than the fact that he lives in Michigan, used to be an advertising storyboard artist and is a very, very funny guy.
A reader passed along this link to Da Vaughn Bodé Site. Bodé was known to National Lampoon fans for his Cheech Wizard comic strip which featured the eponymous ill-tempered hatted wizard and numerous lizards and nymphettes. Bodé was only 33 when he died of accidental strangulation in 1975.
Go to www.NationalLampoon.com and you will see what they call a “teaser.” It requires Macromedia’s Flash plug-in and lasts a couple of minutes. It’s too early to tell, but it looks like they’re working on something. Only time will tell. (Just to be clear, Mark’s Very Large National Lampoon Site is not affiliated with the owners of National Lampoon or their new website or vice versa.)