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A Futile and Stupid Gesture

How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


The ultimate biography of National Lampoon and its cofounder Doug Kenney, this book offers the first complete history of the immensely popular magazine and its brilliant and eccentric characters. With wonderful stories of the comedy scene in New York City in the 1970s and National Lampoon’s place at the center of it, this chronicle shares how the magazine spawned a popular radio show and two long-running theatrical productions that helped launch the careers of John Belushi, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and Gilda Radner and went on to inspire Saturday Night Live. More than 130 interviews were conducted with people connected to Kenney and the magazine, including Chevy Chase, John Hughes, P. J. O’Rourke, Tony Hendra, Sean Kelly, Chris Miller, and Bruce McCall. These interviews and behind-the-scenes stories about the making of both Animal House and Caddyshack help to capture the nostalgia, humor, and popular culture that National Lampoon inspires.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 19, 2006 – Screenwriter Kenney (Animal House; Caddyshack), co-founder of National Lampoon, was one of the gifted gagsters who ignited the 1970s revolution in American humor. Journalist Karp (Playboy; Premiere) delivers an iridescent, polychromatic portrait of the humorist, framed within an amusing anecdotal history of National Lampoon. To chart the magazine's rise and fall, Karp conducted 150 interviews, mapping every avenue of business decisions, feuds, romances, cocaine use and bizarre pranks. It all began at Harvard, where wild wit Kenney and misanthropic Henry Beard became "symbiotic creative forces," revitalizing the Harvard Lampoon. When they teamed with publisher Matty Simmons, National Lampoon was born in 1970, filling the "gigantic void" between the New Yorker and Mad. Success led to heightened hilarity as the brand expanded with posters, products, theatrical productions and recordings. The 1973 National Lampoon Radio Hour cast resurfaced in 1975 on Saturday Night Live, but the anarchic Animal House in 1978 catapulted Kenney to Hollywood—as Karp writes, "He had transformed himself from nerd to preppy to hippie and now to unassuming millionaire artiste." 16-page b&w photo insert not seen by PW.
A Futile and Stupid Gesture
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Sep 01, 2006
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press
  • Seller: Chicago Review Press, Inc. DBA Independent Publishers Group
  • Print Length: 434 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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