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Dinner, Lemmings, and the Hour
December 10, 2013 8:46 PM   Subscribe

In 1972, National Lampoon expanded into recorded comedy with Radio Dinner. The album was largely a star turn for a young NatLamp contributor named Christopher Guest; when the magazine followed up on Radio Dinner's success by sponsoring an off-Broadway "satirical joke-rock mock-concert musical comedy semi-revue," he was tapped to perform in it alongside a drummer named Chevy Chase and a 24-year-old John Belushi. National Lampoon's Lemmings (original cast album) was another hit, running for 350 performances of Woodstock parody and Joe Cocker mockery. NatLamp editor Michael O'Donaghue decided the time was right to take the brand to a weekly radio show. He brought the stars of Lemmings back for it, together with Belushi's old Second City castmates Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Joe Flaherty, and Brian Doyle-Murray. Harry Shearer, Doug Kenney, and Richard Belzer helped round out the cast of The National Lampoon Radio Hour. [You should probably just assume that all YT links are NSF playing out loud at W.] posted by Iridic (32 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
I STILL call them eggamuffins. I can say wimbly, wambly, wombly. . .
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:50 PM on December 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm dressed as a turnip.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:52 PM on December 10, 2013


Here's a link to their Watergate Album. Lots of good Chevy Chase and John Belushi. This link skips to the second half of the album, the first side is heavily edited tape of Nixon and Co. saying things they didn't say. The second half is all NL Radio skits centered on Watergate (and pretty sharp and funny).
posted by doctor_negative at 8:57 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh lordy, pull the tregroes! I remember this record well... actually, I still have the damn thing!
posted by drhydro at 9:02 PM on December 10, 2013


Listen to this or I'll shoot this dog.
posted by HuronBob at 9:04 PM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Love these, but just out of curiosity, is there anybody under 30 years old in this thread?
posted by benito.strauss at 9:11 PM on December 10, 2013


Light your faith and you can light the world. Set fire to the church of your choice.
posted by Aznable at 9:14 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


is there anybody under 30 years old in this thread?

Unless it's 1977, I'm over 30....
posted by HuronBob at 9:32 PM on December 10, 2013


28-year-old here. If I never posted about things that happened before I was born, I'd basically be a lurker.
posted by Iridic at 9:38 PM on December 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm old enough that the Radio Hour was what I listened to every Sunday Night in the dorm as I did my last-minute assignments for Monday's classes. Right before Dr. Demento, of course. Total inspiration for my future endeavors on college radio where I was recruited to do the "Dr. Demento Clone Hour" that every college station in L.A. had at the time. But inbetween the obvious comedy and novelty records, I featured my own little productions, including a news report doing a Paul Harvey impersonation ("and now the... long pause... news!"), Casey Kasem countdown take-offs ("this week, the Top 10 songs about burping..") and fake commercials, the most surprisingly popular of which was a nerdy PSA for the Society to Cure COBOL. Not bad for a one-man repertoire group.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:41 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't think I ever heard any of these (my local station tended to play Firesign Theatre and Python more than National Lampoon), but I tried those Mister Rogers skits and -- wow, yeah, I remember these. I never had that record, so my local station must have played more NatLamp than I thought.

Lederhosen lined with silk. Wimpy wompy wambly ...
posted by maudlin at 9:49 PM on December 10, 2013


(A side note: while performing the requisite search for prior posts, I stumbled on this old piece of provocation by the infamous departed Faze:
John Belushi? Funny? Go back and look at his movies. Go back and look at the old SNLs. The man made his name in National Lampoon's "Lemmings," show, and for only one reason: He had the guts to make fun of Joe Cocker's spazbo gesticulations at a time when rock stars (even Cocker) were considered gods, and above mere satire. We were blown away by the sheer bravery of someone our own age pointing out the obvious (that many rock stars are ridiculous), and went on to believe that Belushi had some kind of limitless supply of arrows in his comedic quiver. He did not. He burned out, blew his mind on drugs, and died a slug's death. He, like John Lennon, didn't have the talent to live up to the overblown adulation he received. Joe Cocker, for whatever reason, lived on.
And that's why Faze was King of the Trolls. It takes a perverse species of genius to claim that John Belushi peaked five years before Animal House, to say nothing of stating that case in the most dickish terms conceivable.)
posted by Iridic at 9:51 PM on December 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Exact same thoughts here, maudlin. And I'm just remembering that a lot of FM rock stations would sometimes play comedy cuts during drive time. "Five O'clock Funnies", on either KMET or KMEL in California in the 70s.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:58 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's about an 80% complete archive of the full radio hour broadcasts in circulation, lovingly curated by someone, and clearly sourced from magnetic tapes that were well preserved by the nearly constant immersion in Kona Gold smoke and Aqua-Velva fumes. There's a mirror available here.
posted by toxic at 10:19 PM on December 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm a big fan of the Goodbye Pop album -- some pretty great, hilarious songs on that one, particularly the Elton-John-ish title track.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 10:33 PM on December 10, 2013


Oh man I loved this stuff.
The Missing White House Tapes album was especially delicious, schadenfreude of the highest order.

This bit totally summed up the age of Nixon for me.
Announcer: Let's go down now to the podium for the official swearing out ceremony conducted by the right reverend Billy Graham.
-
Billy Graham: Goddamn You Richard Nixon! Richard Nixon you son of a bitch! Get the Hell out of here! You lied your ass off! Fuck off!
-
Announcer: Well, that's about it for America's Day of Shame. The President has been officially impeached and the eternal microphone has been switched on and the CIA brass band plays 'Wiretaps'...
posted by dougzilla at 11:10 PM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I fondly remember the Impeachment Day ceremonies and parade, but am sad that the event never occurred in real life. If only ...
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:42 AM on December 11, 2013


a number of pieces too rough for radio made it onto an album

Not to be argumentative, but all of these were gleefully played on the radio in the 1970s, and not just by college stations. Praps you meant too rough for the Radio Hour show.

If in your travels you happen upon a ninternet copy of Guest's death-rock song parody, "Overdose Heaven" (which I have cited several times here over the years), let me know.

There's about an 80% complete archive of the full radio hour broadcasts in circulation

Ooh! Downloaded. Maybe it's in there. Thanks.

Slongs we're talking about 1970s audio humour (modulo Monty Python, Cheech&Chong and Firesign Theatre), don't miss these:

The Congress of Wonders
Star Trip: a Trek parody before they were cool. Farzai know, only MAD (1969) preceded it.
Pigeon Park: A couple old hippies named Jerry and Phil reminisce about their old band and how kids these days have no sense of proportion.
The Bomb: My personal favourite: A team of incompetent anarchists do their bit for the revolution.

Orson Welles, The Begatting of The President (Nixon)
 
posted by Herodios at 4:39 AM on December 11, 2013


...honk! honk! Why, it's Wobbles the Goose!

(My first exposure to What if Ed Sullivan Were Tortured was as close as I've come to driving off a road from laughter.)
posted by delfin at 4:57 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nagasaki. The ancient art of japanese body arrangement.

/so wrong.
posted by exparrot at 5:52 AM on December 11, 2013


Radio Dinner still makes me laugh out loud. One of my few go-to comedy albums.
What can you expect from a god who would crucify his own son?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:56 AM on December 11, 2013


(I had to think about the 'under 30?' question. So not under 30, but I still had to think about it. And then I aged nearly 20 years in two seconds. Oh god.)
posted by Devonian at 6:12 AM on December 11, 2013


Mr. Rogers: "Well, we're gonna go to the Magic Kingdom."
Bass player: "Ah, no, man. It's too early for me. I gotta drive."
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 8:30 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Love these, but just out of curiosity, is there anybody under 30 years old in this thread?

I remember hearing on the old Radio Hour that they did annual demographic surveys of the Magazine readers and that every year, the average age of subscribers is one year older. So that in 50 years, they would be a Geriatric Humor magazine.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:40 AM on December 11, 2013


If in your travels you happen upon a ninternet copy of Guest's death-rock song parody, "Overdose Heaven" (which I have cited several times here over the years), let me know.

It's from episode #57, which is in that big-ass archive I posted.
posted by toxic at 9:42 AM on December 11, 2013


"Magical Misery Tour", from "Radio Dinner" has Tony Hendra doing a frightfully decent John Lennon over an equally decent "Imagine" era musical swipe. When I first heard it, I was upset that anyone would be so vicious towards Lennon who I still thought of as something of a personal hero. Then I discovered that all of the lyrics were lifted, more or less, from Lennon's Rolling Stone interview. It was a bit of a wake-up call to this (then) teenager as to putting anyone on too high of a pedestal.
posted by TDavis at 9:52 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


If in your travels you happen upon a ninternet copy of Guest's death-rock song parody, "Overdose Heaven" (which I have cited several times here over the years), let me know.

It's from episode #57, which is in that big-ass archive I posted.


Oh, man . . . that archive's ass is one of the biggest. I bet I haven't heard these in close to 40 years, and yet the memories come rushing back like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist:

November 16, 1974 (#53): The Immigrants
"'Claude Debussey'? What kinda name is that for an American! From now on, you're M. C. Boone. Next!"

December 7, 1974 (#56): Rip Van Ripple
"Who's 'Jim Croce'?"

December 14, 1974 (#57): Overdose Heaven
"Brian, Jimi, and Purrrl"



Thanks for the link. Can't wait to get home and actually listen to it.
posted by Herodios at 10:49 AM on December 11, 2013


"Magical Misery Tour", from "Radio Dinner" has Tony Hendra doing a frightfully decent John Lennon over an equally decent "Imagine" era musical swipe. When I first heard it, I was upset that anyone would be so vicious towards Lennon who I still thought of as something of a personal hero. Then I discovered that all of the lyrics were lifted, more or less, from Lennon's Rolling Stone interview. It was a bit of a wake-up call to this (then) teenager as to putting anyone on too high of a pedestal.

Consider my mind blown. I grew up listening to Radio Dinner, and could probably do "Magical Misery Tour" word-for-word at 10 years old. I just read the entire Jann Wenner 1971 interview (pt1, pt2) - and I had no idea that he actually SAID most of that, much of it word-for-word. I always took it as a brilliant, though somewhat mean spirited parody...
posted by enkd at 11:01 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I played Magical Misery Tour within earshot of my parents when I was 11 or so and had no idea why they were totally cracking up.
posted by whuppy at 12:25 PM on December 11, 2013


Damn teases. Magical Misery Tour.
posted by maudlin at 12:57 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never listened to 'Lemmings', but I've always loved the album sleeve artwork.
posted by ovvl at 8:14 PM on December 11, 2013


And now for some real closure!

Back in '77-'79 a friend played me a 30 second clip that had been taped off the radio. It was about a spaceman who had been hit by a shrink ray who said "at least I can fit into a junior petite now." He had no idea of its provenance, and not even the invention of Google decades later could help me.

Until now: National Lampoon Radio Hour Episode #24, Flash Bazbo, Space Explorer. Huge thanks to toxic for posting that treasure trove!
posted by whuppy at 10:28 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


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