Harvard Lampoon

harvard lampoon

The Harvard Lampoon is an undergraduate humor publication founded in 1876. It is the world’s longest continually published humor magazine. It is also the second longest-running English-language humor magazine, after the ‘Yale Record.’ The organization also produces occasional humor books and parodies of national magazines. Much of the organization’s capital is provided by the licensing of the ‘Lampoon’ name to ‘National Lampoon,’ begun by ‘Harvard Lampoon’ graduates in 1970.

The Lampoon is known for its bacchanalian parties, which can result in smashed plates and furniture. Robert K. Hoffman, co-founder of the ‘National Lampoon’ and major donor to the Dallas Museum of Art was a Trustee until his death in 2006, and was declared a Trustee ‘Ad-Infinitum’ a year later. The bone of his pinky finger is said to be encased in a block of lucite in the Harvard Lampoon’s ‘Brainatorium Crypt.’

The Lampoon and its sensibility have been an especially important expression of American humor and comedy since the late 1960s. An important line of demarcation came when Lampoon editors Douglas Kenney and Henry Beard wrote the Tolkien parody ‘Bored of the Rings.’ The success of this book and the attention it brought its authors led directly to the creation of the ‘National Lampoon’ magazine, which spun off a live show ‘Lemmings,’ and then a radio show in the early 1970s, ‘The National Lampoon Radio Hour,’ which introduced such performers as Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Chevy Chase. Lampoon writers from these shows were subsequently hired to help create ‘Saturday Night Live.’ This was the first in a line of many TV shows that Lampoon graduates went on to write for, including ‘The Simpsons, ‘Late Night with David Letterman,’ ‘Seinfeld, and ‘The Office.’


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