Your Unauthorized Guide to the Golden Age of National Lampoon Magazine

Tales of Lower Middle Earth

April 20, 2003

Bored of the RingsIn 1969, not long before founding National Lampoon, Doug Kenney and Henry Beard wrote a parody of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings called Bored of the Rings (published by the Harvard Lampoon). A few years ago I acquired a copy. I had long wanted to read this classic parody, but, never having read the original Tolkien books, I set it aside.

Earlier this year, after thoroughly enjoying the first two installments of the movie adaptation, I finally got around to reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was pretty good (better than the movies, in fact), but, more importantly, I could finally sink my teeth into Bored of the Rings.

I don’t think I would call it the funniest thing I’ve ever read, but I found myself giggling constantly as I read it. It captures Tolkien’s style perfectly, while at the same time mocking it. All the character and place names are re-cast as familiar brand names (Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin become Frito, Spam, Moxie, and Pepsi). Well, familiar brand names in 1969, anyway. In fact, so many brand names are used in the book, I think it would be impossible to make into a movie today. The legal costs would be prohibitive. It follows the plot of the original at least as closely as the movies, and in only 160 pages.

Not surprisingly, there are some drug references and sex, but not nearly as much as I expected. My favorite parts turned out to be my least favorite parts of the Tolkien books: the songs. In the original, I found the songs to be tedious and self-indulgent, and mostly skipped over them. Maybe because of this, in Bored, they are the highlight. Here is a sample (in ancient “elvish”):

A Unicef clearasil
Gibberish ‘n’ drivel
O Mennen mylar muriel
With a hey derry tum gardol
O Yuban necco glamorene?
Enden nytol, vaseline!
Sing hey nonny nembutal.

Anyway, it’s all pretty silly, so anyone who takes Tolkien too seriously will likely be offended. But if you’ve read the original, it makes a nice dessert. And thanks to the renewed interest brought on by the movie adaptations, it’s available again. So you shouldn’t have to hunt around for a copy of the original paperback like I did.


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