Your Unauthorized Guide to the Golden Age of National Lampoon Magazine

Mr. Mike: The Life and Work of Michael O’Donoghue from National Lampoon to Saturday Night Live, the Man Who Made Comedy Dangerous 

The cover of the book Mr. Mike: The Life and Work of Michael O'Donoghue


By Dennis Perrin
Avon Books, 1998

This biography of the man who set the tone for National Lampoon in its formative years focuses mainly on his life and work up until his final break with Saturday Night Live in 1982. It covers in meticulous detail (including excerpts) his early career in experimental theater and as a struggling writer; his four-year reign at National Lampoon; and his ground-breaking (and ultimately co-opted) work for Saturday Night Live. (The last twelve years of his life, which were much less public, fly by in only one chapter.)

Perrin’s account of O’Donoghue’s Lampoon days compliments the accounts given in Hendra’s and Simmons’ books (see the Sources page) without being redundant.

The story of O’Donoghue’s early life and career puts his later work in context and gives it greater meaning. The parade of alliances, tantrums, and feuds is presented in all its tragic drama, and much of the book is devoted to his personal eccentricities and foibles. O’Donoghue’s work is presented as is without much explanation as to why so many found his work both brilliant and funny (as if it went without saying), and this is the only real shortcoming of this riveting book.

The book on Amazon.

Original material (excluding quoted material) © 1997-2024 Mark Simonson.
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