Turn On With Nat Lamp

If you are curious to see what happened to drug-addled counter-culture heroes of the early 1970s — the funny ones — you’ll want to join former Lampooners Rick Meyerowitz, John Weidman, Sean Kelly, Brian McConnachie, Christopher Cerf, Tony Hendra, Michel Choquette, Fred Graver, Ratso, Peter Reigert (Boon of Animal House), and more and more and more, when the New York Public Library celebrates the National Lampoon and Meyerowitz’s new book Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead.

“If the magazine had a point of view, it was that everybody and everything was fair game: raving, right-wing lunatics, tie-dyed peaceniks, tedious noodniks; all were offended by their stick-in-your-eye style of humor.”

National Lampoon blazed like the proverbial comet for a decade, spinning off special projects, books, magazines, theater pieces, films, television shows, and eventually—writers and artists. The mainstays of the magazine moved into the mainstream media and the Lampoon pedigree faded from their resumes.

On December 4th, Live From the NYPL will reunite many of the editors and artists who were the core of the Nat Lamp’s staff in the 1970’s for “a once-in-a-lifetime evening of reminiscence and laughter,” crows Meyerowitz. This evening of laughter and mirth (and in some cases, girth) will bring tears to your eyes, and moisture to your seat.

Read The New Yorker review here. Order tickets here.

31 thoughts on “Turn On With Nat Lamp

  1. Hunter Thomas

    Enough! We all know what needs to be done! We need to take back what is rightfully ours! Instead of standing in the smoldering ruins of what was once great, why not get back to where we left off and come up with something of equal value or better? God knows we need it.  Fuck all this sniveling. Yes, National Lampoon was the greatest! But now it’s a pile of shit you step in while uselessly flitting around the internet wasteland, and in between visits to your favorite pornography sites. (It always comes back to baloney slamming!)
    Gentleman, I dare you, to take on the urgent matter at hand and go back to the basics. Let’s lash this ship wreak together and start writing and publishing great humor. No more excuses. Please check out the washington toast. And in the mean time stop crying over the loss of National Lampoon and do something about it! Any help would be greatly appreciated and no, your donations are not tax exempt, and please send us photos of your breast, unless you’re fat and overweight. )
    Any one interested in stopping the bitchin and starting the writing, please let me know…
    Hunter Thomas dctoast@aol.com

  2. Dave Spira

    I was never sure, but now I know why Doug Kenney left us. So he would never have to sit through a pompous bloated anal fissure like Larry “Remora” Simmons reading some lame list from Gilbert Gottfried with a gigantic picture of Gilbert Gottfried next to him while he recalled the glory years of 1990 and how he used Henny Youngman to get free lunches. And to follow true geniuses like Tony Hendra, John Weidman and Brian McConnachie with this peice of trash, definitely put black stain on an otherwise entertaining evening. I did not see Mike Gross there and that was a shame. He was truly a great art diector and he created the look and feel that got the magazine to where it was. I did not see Peter Kleinman either and had always loved the work he had done after Michael hired and mentored him.

  3. Duitch Sloane

    These people have to be on drugs….or maybe they SHOULD be! The cover art that Michael Gross did on NL was the very first commercial artwork that made me look up who was responsible for it, and was consistently brilliant. I cannot comprehend the magazine achieving the audience it did withouth it, and eliminating him from the panel means I am cancelling my plans to attend. Yeah, I want to laugh, but I also want to hear about the creative concepts and collaborations that raised it far about any humorous magazine then, and since. As for wanting funny – when the surviving members of Monty Python appeared as a panel after the recent documentary about them premiered, the questions from the audience were almost uniformly about ideas and concepts (not to mention, the work of Terry Gilliam). Not only should the organizers re-invite Mr. Gross, they should put him up in a nice suite at the St Regis, and have him speak in the bar, in front of the Maxfield Parrish mural of King Kole – that way they would have the best of both worlds: gorgeous artwork, and the art worlds first known fart joke (evidently, the latter being the one they relate to).

  4. oliveakamomo

    I’ve seen Rick’s book and let me tell you what a complete fucking clueless asshole.   I KNOW the history of this magazine as much as any outsider who was a kid back then can – but from reading and watching and then seeing that the REFERENCE ART is HIS and then pulling him – you are a fuckwit who is overplaying your viewpoint and looks like an idiot to anyone who knows.  Yeah, have fun, a bunch of old men being “entertaining” to the patrons while you’ve all lost the chance to actually impress the point that there WAS a groundbreaking publication being shaped very much by the man you can’t tolerate a little seriousness from.  He’s more able to laugh at what should be taken lightly from that era than any of you.  Fuckwits.

  5. John Sabotta

    It’s unconscionable to exclude the original art director of the National Lampoon from an event celebrating the legacy of a magazine that depended so much on it’s original and flawless art and design. Without Michael Gross this “event” is simply a bad joke, and, I should think, particularily useless to anybody in “the community of graphic designers”.

  6. Madison Keith Miller

    First a Wiki-Leak, now this? Travesty! If Michael Gross isn’t on the bill the dog-shooting will begin and continue until there are no dogs left in West Hollywood. On second thought, maybe that isn’t such a good fu*#%!ng idea… We’ll be here all night. Let me put it this way… Would Monty Python have a get together without Terry Gilliam? Uhhhh let me think about it… NO!

  7. Brian Linse

    Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of a bunch of guys who were brilliant in 2 dimensions on the pages of the Nat Lamp appearing, 30 years later, in 3 dimensions at the NYPL while trays with little cheese squares circulate amongst clueless “patrons” and anyone else stupid enough to pay to see Tony Hendra in person sounds misguided from the get-go.Tell me where these guys will be drinking after the event and I’m there, but…
    I’ve seen Meyerowitz’s book – nice job, good luck and all, but the fact that they would exclude Michael Gross from this event just confirms that it isn’t for true fans.

  8. William L. Fiesterman

    You can’t represent the original crew of the National Lampoon Magazine without also including Michael Gross, the magazine’s original art director.  I’ll be blunt.  When Michael Gross left the magazine, it started to lose it’s momentum.  If you are truly celebrating the original creative forces that put this wonderful and historic magazine together, you simply have to include Michael Gross.  What I’m reading here about Michael being excluded from this event seems crazy to me.

  9. Carey

    In addition to Michael Gross not speaking at this event, the book fails to mention all of his massive success in film. After all, he produced ten films, all comedies. There isn’t even a nod to “Heavy Metal,” which the Lampoon produced, and “Ghostbusters,” which is almost a Lampoon film. Gross and Ivan Reitman are the only humans to gross as much as Harold Ramis in comedy.  Due to his unique vision, he built the Lampoon into a commercially successful magazine. And he is also a fine visual artist, wonderful story-teller and funny public speaker.

  10. marc thorner

    How can YOU NOT HAVE Michael Gross on a seminal panel discussion on Natlamp? I have to echo the above comments! Come on Meyerowitz, do the right thing here!

  11. michael gross

    I asked again if I was welcome..the same response: from Rick: “I have been told over and over again by the producers at the NYPL that this evening should not be didactic in any way. They want an entertainment. The four hundred or so paying guests don’t want a lecture about design, they want to fucking laugh.”
    I now have no plane ticket..Michael Gross

  12. Gillian Cameron

    I must add my voice to those who have already stated their outrage at the exclusion of Michael Gross from this event. It should be obvious that Michael’s art direction was one of the major factors that made NatLamp what it was, and that has been demonstrated in spades by the comments above as well as myriad visual evidence. Not so obvious but more vitally important is this: Michael Gross is a natural raconteur. His stories and insights make him a vessel of living history. i have had the unique privilege of spending one of the most memorable and hilarious days of my life with him, so I can speak from first-hand experience. I can also speak from expertise and connoisseurship, since I am a professional storyteller and am acquainted with some of the most noted storytellers in California. To spend time with Michael Gross is to be in New York in the early 70’s and to experience the risk, exuberance, creativity, and insanity that was the National Lampoon in its halcyon years. To not include this gentleman in any celebration of this publication is to ignore a major part of its soul and to lose out on some wonderful yarns.

  13. Mark Simonson

    I can’t believe they would not want Michael there. I’m flying there from Minnesota, and one of the big reasons I decided to go was because I was told he would be among the NatLamp alumni in attendance. They want laughs? This is seriously not funny.

  14. Mister Ron

    This is *&^^*%^%* great! I just bought tickets this morning, and paid for round trip DC-New York so my son and I could go, and the man we wanted to see more than anyone else (alive, anyway) was “dis-invited.” If you DON’T bring Michael Gross in, I’m going to shoot this dog!

  15. Rebecca Davis

    Truly disappointed to find out that the artistic director from the “Golden Years” of the National Lampoon magazine, Michael Gross, will not be on the panel.  A natural raconteur, his perspective on the participants, both writers and artists, of those early glorious years will be sorely missed.  But, what do I know, I’m just a fan.        

  16. Phil

    I’d have to say I agree with most of the posts above. Especially in this case, the AD is the creative glue that holds it all together and gives it a focus. Michael is such a sharp wit and talented guy that he seems to be at the epicenter of National Lampoon.
    When I was a kid reading it just for the humour, I didn’t get that, but as an adult, I’d hope for an intelligent perspective that includes amusing anecdotes and some insight…why would I go to such a prsentation if I DIDN’T want to learn something. Michael spans both the magazine and film ventures of NL. I’d pay to listen to him talk anytime.

  17. Drew Neumann

    TO Rick Meyerowitz, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, no, no, NO, bad, stupid, wrong. If you don’t put Michael back on the panel, we’re going to have to kill this dog. Sure, Michael’s cat would be happy about it, but the dog would not.

  18. Mark

    It’s just absurd for Michael Gross to be bumped from a panel that makes room for Larry “Ratso” Sloman from the unfunny Matty years or Peter Reigert, a fine actor, but someone with absolutely no connection to the magazine the book and event celebrate. Absurd because every person I’ve interviewed about the magazine raves about the quality and importance or Mr. Gross’ art direction. Art direction not just of the magazine, but all the special editions of the early era. Hopefully someone in charge will recognize the ridiculousness of this situation. If not, more’s the pity for the people paying for tickets. Wouldn’t it be nice if this were all just some terrible misunderstanding? Wouldn’t that be nice?

  19. Gian

    Since so much of a writer’s words are made incarnate by an artist’s imagination and work, and so much of an artist’s work inspires 1,000 words, wouldn’t it have been wise to invite the artists and art directors to speak also? Lampoon was truly not a magazine bought just for the articles. The cliché used to justify buying Playboys was never used for Lampoon. People truly looked at the pictures here, and the art was a commentary on a unique time when American culture was riding a pendulum. There are those, like Michael Gross, whose voices should be heard.   

  20. michael gross

    Steven , spoken like a true NYT editor…you hired me many many times to illustrate for the NYT’s…but you avoided the question? why shouldn’t I have been allowed to speak?..How large WAS my contribution? you know as one of the greatest print art director/editors of our time…but little said

  21. Steven Heller Post author

    Hat’s off and a grand salute to Michael Gross. I admired his Lampoon art direction, his ability to hit a perfect pitch of parody and truth. He helped make the magazine.

  22. Rory Murray

    While I loved the magazine and enjoyed the book, I do NOT enjoy the fact that Michael Gross has been snubbed. His contributions to the magazine are legendary. His COVERS often SOLD the magazine. I also don’t like the fact that legendary artist Russ Heath’s illustrations are prominently featured, with little fanfare (or compensation-I assume). I want to publicly thank both of these great artists. It was an honor to have met them both earlier this year. -Rory Murray

  23. Pierre La Chance

    Rick, as the guy who said you would have cut off body parts to be the art director for National Lampoon, how come you have no room for Michael Gross at your event.  Seems odd to me.  Especially given your comments about how all you did for years was copy him.  Wazzup?

  24. michael gross

    I was supposed to attend as a speaker (paying my way from LA etc) but got un-invited..this fro Rick Meyerowitz: “I have been told over and over again by the producers at the NYPL that this evening should not be didactic in any way. They want an entertainment. The four hundred or so paying guests don’t want a lecture about design, they want to fucking laugh.”