A Futile and Stupid Gesture by Josh Karp
How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever

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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.


About Josh Karp

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Josh Karp is a freelance journalist who writes for a variety of national publications, including The Atlantic Monthly Online, Chicago Sun-Times, Los Angeles Times, Playboy, Premiere, and Salon.com.
Published September 1, 2006 by Chicago Review Press. 434 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Futile and Stupid Gesture

The New York Times

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Certain real-life figures — Neal Cassady, June Miller, the guy who died so Milton could write “Lycidas” — loom large for poets, but make unresponsive subjects for biographers.

Oct 15 2006 | Read Full Review of A Futile and Stupid Gesture: ...

Entertainment Weekly

National Lampoon, the outrageous institution that put a gun to a pooch's head, is chronicled via the life of Doug Kenney, one of the magazine's founders and Animal House co-writer.

Oct 27 2006 | Read Full Review of A Futile and Stupid Gesture: ...

News Review.

Like many books on the great comic rupture of the ’70s, this biography of National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney treats with reverence a group of people who made their money satirizing reverence.

Aug 31 2006 | Read Full Review of A Futile and Stupid Gesture: ...

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