National Lampoon Magazine, 1970-1998, R.I.P.

I recently got confirmation of something that I had been hearing rumors about over the last few months: National Lampoon magazine has ceased publication. The November 1998 (Failure) issue was the final new issue published by J2 Communications, the current owners all things National Lampoon.

According to documents filed with the SEC last October, J2 Communications has renegotiated its contract with the Harvard Lampoon which dates back to the 1970 founding of National Lampoon by Harvard Lampoon alums Henry Beard, Doug Kenney, and Rob Hoffman, and magazine publisher 21st Century Communications. (Harvard Lampoon apparently owns the rights to the name “Lampoon” and has considerable say over what the owners of National Lampoon may do with the name and anything associated with it.) In the new agreement, J2 Communications is no longer required to publish new issues of the magazine (in fact, it is barred from doing so), though it may do whatever it wants with previously published materials and retains the rights to the “National Lampoon” name.

This news should not be surprising to anyone who has followed the magazine in recent years. Since the early ’90s, National Lampoon magazine has been published only once yearly—the minimum required by the previous contract—apparently in order to retain the right to use the name for licensing.

So, no more magazine but we can look forward to more made-for-tv movies on Fox Family, not to mention the possibility of “National Lampoon” labeled sweat pants.

New Feature: Answers Page

Over the last couple years of running this site, I have fielded many queries from readers looking for obscure (and sometimes not-so-obscure) information concerning National Lampoon and related topics. Questions have ranged from “Whatever happened to Danielle, the Foto Funnies girl?” to “Is National Lampoon still being published?” I decided it didn’t make sense to keep these queries private as many others would surely be interested to know the answers to some of these questions. The other reason is that sometimes I don’t know or don’t have time to find all the answers. By putting everything out in the open, I’m hoping fellow “know-it-alls” will chime in and make up for my ignorance. I’ve compiled them all into one handy page, the Answers page. As new queries come in, the answers will appear there in addition to my customary e-mail reply.

Radio Hour Pages Update

Diligent National Lampoon Radio Hour fanatic Dave Meredith has just sent me a complete listing of the contents of all but two of the broadcast shows. Stay tuned for this new feature of Mark’s Very Large National Lampoon Site.

That’s Not Classic, That’s Popular!

Though it does fall outside the 1970-75 period this site concerns itself with, I’m going to answer once and (I hope) for all the question that seems to be on the minds of a high number of NatLamp fans: No, I do not know where to find copies of the 1977 NatLamp album “That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick!” and it was never (to my knowledge) released on cassette or compact disc. As you can see if you take a quick glance at the Classifieds page, I will happily post an ad for anyone seeking this album. The tips on the Where To Find Stuff page may also be of some help. (Update: See the answer about this on the Answers page.)

For those unfamiliar with this album, here is a quick run down:

 “That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick!” released in 1977 on Label 21 Records. Starring Brian Doyle-Murray, Bill Murray, Christopher Guest and featuring Richard Belzer, Rhonda Coullet, Gracie Whitebread, Pat Bright, Bob Dryden, George Agoglia, Tony Hendra, Sid Davis, Larraine Newman, Anna Uppstrom, John Dunn, and John Weidman. Written by Brian Doyle-Murray, Bill Murray, Richard Belzer, Christopher Guest, John Weidman, Bob Tischler, Tony Hendra, Harold Ramis, Doug Kenney, and Bruce McCall. Produced and engineered by Bob Tischler. Cover illustration (the infamous double-amputee frog cartoon) by Sam Gross. Bits include The Dick Ballentine Phone-In Show (Belzer), Listener-Sponsored Radio (Murray), Mr. Roberts (Mr. Rogers parody with Guest and Murray) where he interviews a bass player (my favorite line: Mr. Roberts: Well, we’re gonna go to the Magic Kingdom. Bass Player: Ah, no, man. It’s too early for me. I gotta drive.), “Height Report Disco” (Murray and Donna Detroit), Humpback Whales with Gas (Hendra), 2015-Year-Old Man (Belzer), Monolithic Oil Corporation Spot, and others. (Some of the bits appear to be lifted from earlier broadcasts of National Lampoon Radio Hour.)

 If you have questions about National Lampoon during the early ’70s, I’m more than happy to answer them, but please stop asking about this album.

New Look; New NL Issue Is Out

Sharp-eyed visitors will notice a subtle, but fundamental change to the look of Mark’s Very Large National Lampoon Site. As of November 5, there are no longer any National Lampoon graphics anywhere on the site. This change was made at the request of J2 Communications, current owner of the NatLampCo empire, such as it is.

I haven’t seen it, but there is a new issue out.

Christopher Guest Radio Profile in the Works

A radio profile of Christopher Guest is likely to be broadcast sometime in early spring 1999 on National Public Radio affiliates. Though he is now best known for his movie work (This Is Spïnal Tap, The Princess Bride, Waiting for Guffman) and a short stint on Saturday Night Live during the ’80s, Guest was a prominent fixture in National Lampoon‘s forays into LP records and radio in the ’70s, both as a writer and performer. In addition to creating such memorable characters as Flash Bazbo—Space Explorer, music critic Roger de Swans, and sleazy record company rep Ron Fields, he also wrote and performed numerous musical parodies, giving uncanny imitations of Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Neil Young, to name a few.

 If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to contact producer Bill Colrus.