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.

National Lampoon Radio Hour Section Planned

The NLRH ran from March 17, 1973 to December 28, 1974, and was broadcast on hundreds of stations nationwide. It was one of the best radio comedy shows ever produced, and introduced many talented perfomers to a national audience for the first time, including Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Christopher Guest, Michael O’Donoghue, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, Gilda Radner, Harry Shearer, Harold Ramis, Joe Flaherty, and many others. I’ve always meant to have this on the site, but didn’t have the information or resources necessary to do so—until now. Reader Dave Meredith, who has been collecting and listening to the shows, has agreed to contribute information about the NLRH for Mark’s Very Large National Lampoon Site. Dave appears to be a “can-do” kind of guy, so I feel confident that it’s really gonna happen. Stay tuned!

The Inside Story on the Cover Photo of Issue No. 1

Talk about friends in high places! I was recently contacted by the woman who appeared on the cover of Vol. 1, No. 1, April 1970 (Sex) issue of National Lampoon, who now lives in the mountains of a western state. She graciously let me in on the story of how she happened to get on that cover. (I promised I wouldn’t reveal her name, to protect her privacy.) Here is how it happened, in her own words:

“In New York, models take their portfolios around to different photographers . . . it’s called ‘making the rounds.’ If the photographers are in need of models, sometimes one can pick up a quick shoot rather than waiting to be booked. The day the cover was shot was such a day. I had been to about ten studios, picked up a few free test photos that I would use for my book, but no paying job. I was not yet well known, but had done a fair amount of catalog work and some paperback book covers and such . . .

 “When I entered the studio, the photographer (and I am sorry, but I cannot remember his name; I have tried) was in a shoot. He had a busty blonde model in a bikini against a backdrop and he kept saying, “I want you to look sexy . . . real sexy. She was posing, and I suppose trying. Good looking gal; no passion coming across. I watched for a few more minutes and could hear the frustration in his voice . . .

 “I don’t know exactly what possessed me to do this, but I went behind the changing drape and put on the leather suit seen in the shot. A girlfriend had loaned it to me, as I had wanted some photos taken in it; I was to return it that day. The suit was a whole size too small and of no use to me . . . I thought. Nonetheless, it is all that I had with me. I wiggled into this suit—could not come close to buttoning it up—quietly walked across the studio until I was almost in view. The photographer was still engrossed in, ‘No, look really sexy.’

 “I waited until he looked up from the camera, the look of a long sigh on his face. I stepped onto the backdrop paper—hit the pose and said, ‘He means like this.’ The photographer got that ‘YES’ look on his face and he shot the picture without ever looking through the lens. One shot. I am afraid my baroque sense of humor took over because I walked away, redressed and left. No release, no name . . . he did not even know who I was; hence, ‘the model is unidentified.’

 “I did not know that they had used my picture for that cover shot until photographers who knew me started to call my agent and request me as a model.”

Started Reading the New O’Donoghue Book

Speaking of Michael O’Donoghue… I finally went out and bought the Dennis Perrin biography, “Mr. Mike:The Life and Work of Michael O’Donoghue, Man Who Made Comedy Dangerous,” and am about half way through. Very fascinating book! Knowing his history prior to his NatLamp days really sheds light on his work at the magazine. His pieces in National Lampoon make a even more sense when you see they are part of a much larger picture. The book also reveals O’Donoghue’s importance in setting the tone and personality of the magazine in contrast to its more restrained Harvard Lampoon roots.