SKETCHES FROM THE NATIONAL LAMPOON World Premiere to Play Hayworth Theatre, 2/7-3/17
National Lampoon will present the World Premiere of SKETCHES FROM THE NATIONAL LAMPOON, conceived and produced by Matty Simmons, with original songs by Richard Levinson and directed by Pat Towne. SKETCHES FROM THE NATIONAL LAMPOON will begin previews on Thursday, February 7 at 8pm; will open on Friday, February 15 at 8pm and run through Sunday, March 17 at the Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles.
SKETCHES FROM THE NATIONAL LAMPOON, is National Lampoon's first live stage production in over 25 years. Featuring the most hilarious and classic monologues, sketches, songs and other humor derived from the best known comedy company in entertainment history and written by more than thirty Lampoon magazine, radio and theatrical writers including Michael O'Donoghue, Doug Kenney, John Hughes, and PJ O'Rourke. SKETCHES FROM THE NATIONAL LAMPOON will take an irreverent look back at the best of the best in Lampoon history and will feature 6 original songs written for this production. The show is being produced by National Lampoon founder Matty Simmons, who created, not only the humor magazine, but also the radio shows, albums, theatre and such films as "National Lampoon's Animal House" and "Vacation" series. The show is also being co-produced along with the new President of the National Lampoon Alan Donnes, CEO Jerry Daigle and Patti Browne.
First, let's get this dog thing out of the way. The National Lampoon magazine cover featuring a dog with a gun to his head and the printed warning: "If You Don't Buy This Magazine - We'll Kill This Dog" was selected by The Art Director's Society of America as the "best magazine cover ever." It has certainly become the most popular.
The sketches and monologues in the new revue, "Sketches From the National Lampoon," were written by many of the legendary humorists for the Lampoon magazine and its radio, recording, stage and film productions.
Much of the material was written by teams of writers, sometimes as many as four or five, occasionally, just one solitary funny individual.
The list of writers, actors, directors and editors who worked for the Lampoon would take more space than available here and then we'd accidentally leave some out so we will, with apologies to those unintentionally left out, list some.
The original editors of the Lampoon were Doug Kenny and Henry Beard. They were soon joined by Michael O'Donahue, George Trow, TEd Mann, Tony Hendra, Brian McConnachie, Anne Beatts, P.J. O'Rourke, John Hughes, Terry Southern, Dave Hanson, Jerry Sussman and many others. Later, came Al Jean, Michael Reiss, Andy Simmons, Larry Sloman, Michael Simmons, Larry David, etc., etc.
Introduced in various Lampoon entertainment projects were: John Belushi, Christopher Guest, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle Murray, Gilda Radner, Meatloaf, Richard Belzer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tom Hulce, Karen Allen, Peter Riegert, Stephen Furst, Martha Smith, Dana Baron, Anthony Michael Hall, Harold Ramis and many others. Diane Lane was 14 when she appeared in a National Lampoon film. The aforementioned Michelle Pfeiffer made her first appearance as an actress on a Lampoon TV show.
The Lampoon was created in 1970. Its founder and CEO was Matty Simmons, who has produced "Sketches." He ran the company for more than 20 years, selling control in 1990. In the two decades that followed, the magazine closed but a number of films were produced under the Lampoon banner, including van Wilder.
Now, new management, under the supervision of Jerry Daigle, CEO and Alan Donnes, President, there has been a Renaissance. A full-length documentary on the Lampoon will be in theaters sometime this year and films and other projects are in the works.
Matty Simmons (Producer) born in Brooklyn, was a high school and college basketball player, who, at the age of seventeen, became a newspaper reporter for the New York World Telegram and Sun. After a brief stint in the army he became a New York press agent, opening his own firm and representing show business clients as well as commercial accounts such as Heineken Beer. He then became one of the three men who started The Diners' Club, the first all- purpose credit card company and served as Executive Vice President of that company directing its marketing and publishing operations including Signature Magazine, which he founded shortly after the company's inception.
He resigned in the late 1960's to form 21st Century Communications, which was later to become National Lampoon Inc. The company went public in 1972 with Mr. Simmons as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. Its' first magazine was Weight Watchers Magazine, founded in 1968. In 1970, the company introduced National Lampoon, which was to become the most popular humor magazine in publishing history. In 1972, Mr. Simmons produced the musical comedy "Lemmings" in which he introduced a number of new faces including John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Christopher Guest. Over the next five years, Mr. Simmons produced three other Lampoon shows introducing among others Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray and Meatloaf. During that period, he also produced the National Lampoon Radio Hour, which was the most listened to radio show in America in 1973 and 1974 and 12 comedy albums.
In 1978 he produced "National Lampoon's Animal House" considered the most popular film comedy of all time. He has also produced, among other films, the National Lampoon "Vacation" series.
In 1979, he was named "Producer of the Year" and in 1980, "Publisher of the Year" by industry organizations. His film and television discoveries include Michele Pfeiffer, Tom Hulce and Kevin Bacon. Among the writers he discovered were John Hughes, PJ O'Rourke, Michael O'Donaghue and dozens of others, who today dominate the film and television scenes.