Like it or not, the National Lampoon is 10 years old and, if that's not bad enough, they've decided to tell simply everyone.
So the Lampoon next week will publish its Tenth Anniversary Anthology, documenting a decade of black humor, which the magazine describes as "stories and jokes considered by some to be not only not funny, but offensive to common decency and good taste."
Normally, the rest of this article would be a review of the new special book. But since the cheapskates didn't send one, this story will be confined to the history of the alleged humor magazine, and some quotes from a semi-literate press release.
Founded in 1970 by three former Harvard Lampoon staffers, the National Lampoon was designed to appeal to "the baby-boom generation of the late Forties and Fifties," according to editor-in-chief P.J. O'Rourke. "These are the people who don't remember the Great Depression but do remember J.F.K. Most were in their teens during the Sixties. They played at self-destruction then, and did a lot of things for shock value. Now they're on their first divorce or second marriage, but in many ways they're still not over their rebellion.
If you feel comfortable with that description, you're probably a Lampoon reader.
Just to make sure it wasn't missing a capitalistic trick, the National Lampoon has seized upon every possible fad to spin off special records and publications here and there down the line.
Who can forget the famous record "The Missing White House Tapes," or those wonderful books "Would you buy a used war from this man?" and "The Job of Sex"?.
The publication can, and does, also boast of the many famous humorists who have risen through its ranks to go on to such notable ventures as "Saturday Night Live," and the movie National Lampoon's Animal House," which the company produced.
It is important to note that this tenth anniversary issue actually was printed only nine years and about two months after the first issue, but that's what happens when you're in it for the buck.
In describing its role in the world, the magazine points out that it has been "a uniquely Seventies voice."
"The Sixties was a decade defined by a racial and generation tension, by radical changes in social and sexual mores, by a total reassessment of America's role in the global community, and by fundamental rethinking of our nation's domestic goals and priorities," the Lampoon points out in an editorial.
"The Seventies was a decade defined by giving up cigarettes."
It is the Seventies that the Lampoon has embraced.
"We have been accused of eltism, racism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Semitism, communism, facism, anti-intellectualism, sadism, and a hatred of dogs and women," says O'Rourke. "Fair accusations, every one."
On the issue of why so few women write for the Lampoon, O'Rourke says, "Humor is aggression. That's probably why there aren't more funny women around.It's true women are getting more assertive, but when it comes to really loving to get in there and hurt somebody,men still have the edge."
Well, if you've put up with it this long, you can fork over another $19.95 for the hardcover version of the National Lampoon Tenth Anniversary Anthology, 1970-1980. (By National Lampoon, Inc.; distributed by Simon and Schuster; 320 pages. ) CAPTION:
Illustration, The anniversary anthology includes this cartoon, published first in May 1970, by S. Gross for the National Lampoon.