Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon
Director Douglas Tirola explains how everything funny came from one filthy magazine
Opens in Toronto – October 2, 2015 The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Also available on iTunes and Video On Demand
Also Screening at:
Vancouver International Film Festival
Calgary International Film Festival
Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival
Official Selection for:
2015 Sundance Film Festival
2015 Tribeca Film Festival
2015 Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival
2015 Just For Laughs Festival
“A lively, very entertaining look at the Lampoon’s unlikely empire.”
-The Hollywood Reporter
Director Douglas Tirola is available for interviews by phone, e-mail or Skype.
Toronto – From the 1970s through the 1990s, there was no hipper, no more outrageous comedy in print than The National Lampoon, the groundbreaking humor magazine that pushed the limits of taste and acceptability – and then pushed them even harder. Parodying everything from politics, religion, entertainment and the whole of American lifestyle, the Lampoon eventually went on to branch into successful radio shows, record albums, live stage revues and movies, including Animal House and National Lampoon’s Vacation. The publication launched the careers of many who would become mainstays in American humor, in TV, film and elsewhere.
Director Douglas Tirola’s documentary about the Lampoon, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon, cleverly chronicles its founding by two former Harvard students, its growth, demise and everything in between. Told through fresh, candid interviews with its key staff, and illustrated with hundreds of outrageous images from the magazine itself (along with never-seen interview footage from the magazine’s prime) the film gives fans of the Lampoon a unique inside look at what made the magazine tick, who its key players were, and why it was so outrageously successful: a magazine that dared to think what no one was thinking but wished they had.
This was the magazine that gave the world the unforgettable “Buy This Magazine Or We’ll Shoot This Dog” cover, the “Vietnamese Baby Book” and “Son-O’-God Comics,” garnering condemnation and lawsuits. It was also a clubhouse for the best of a new, rebellious breed of comic sensibilities – underground artists and writers like Anne Beatts, P.J. O’Rourke, John Hughes, Al Jean and Mike Reiss (the latter two of whom currently produce The Simpsons).
Performer-writers like Michael O’Donoghue and Tony Hendra cross-pollinated the magazine with other streams of showbiz, including records and stage (The National Lampoon Radio Hour and The Lemmings), attracting still more blazing talents, including John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray.
Expert-witness interviewees in the film who were influenced by the Lampoon include Kevin Bacon, Christopher Buckley and Judd Apatow.
“If life really was eternally like high school, I don’t think these people would have been at the same cafeteria tables,” says Tirola. “They didn’t really have a lot in common. They wouldn’t have been friends, a lot of them, if they weren’t working at the Lampoon. But they somehow got it all together to write hilarious stuff and put together these great shows.”
While providing the foundation for contemporary comedy, The National Lampoon died partly because of its own success (even as some of its key players – including Belushi, Doug Kenney and Michael O’Donoghue – died young). But it lived because of its timing.
“It was a different time, and the Lampoon would have a much harder go of it today,” Tirola says. “It seems like there are these people laying in wait behind rocks for somebody to say something that goes a little too far. “People censor themselves in fear, not of being offensive but of somebody calling them offensive.”
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead director Douglas Tirola is an acclaimed documentarian whose films include All In: The Poker Movie (featuring Matt Damon), Actress (nominated for best documentary at the Gotham Independent Film Awards), and the reality series The X Effect.