Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon


In the ‘70s and into the ‘80s I never missed an issue of the National Lampoon. I had a complete run from the first issue until at some point it just seemed to run out of steam, stopped being very funny. I wish I still had them. But in its heyday there was nothing funnier, nothing edgier, nothing more outrageous. Absolutely nothing was out of bounds. Nothing was too obscene, vulgar, or sophomoric (a put-down word that I embrace). There is simply no equivalent today. About the smartest humor around these days is The Onion, which I love, but it is pretty safe and staid compared to the Natlamp. This the tale of how it got started, how it rose to dominate the field of printed humor, and how it all came apart.

Much of the most amazing stuff was written by Doug Kenney, who either killed himself or slipped and fell into the Grand Canyon of Kauai in 1980. The other main comic genius was Henry Beard, with characters like Tony Hendra, John Hughes, Christopher Guest, the brilliant artist Bruce McCall, and Michael O’Donoghue in the bull pen. The movie tells of the rise, and the fall, when Saturday Night Live came along and siphoned off their best talent. There is a lot of original artwork that is very well done. My only gripe is that most of it stays on the screen for only a second or two, but I understand that if they didn’t keep the pace up like that the flick would have run four hours. I wish I had the time to take another look and pause it from time to time. I thoroughly enjoyed this.