Drunk Stoned Brilliant DeadTribeca Film Festival 2015
The National Lampoon was founded by two Harvard graduates, Henry Beard and Doug Kenney in 1970, representing the first satirical and downright raunchy magazine of its kind. Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon, directed by Douglas Tirola, not only tells the story of the magazine but how it revolutionized modern comedy. SNL, Animal House, and many actors that came from The National Lampoon, including Bill Murray and Jim Belushi, are household names, but the magazine is unknown to most millennials. Despite being a jumpstart for many in the comedic entertainment industry, the history of The National Lampoon has been left primarily to the past. That is until Tirola and his crew decided to unearth the dirt on the magazine and its demise.
Those first interviewed for the documentary assured Tirola that Henry Beard would want no part of the film, but as the only founder alive of the two, his input is vital to the story. Henry has a mature take as to why he left the magazine. He essentially purports he and Doug were young and when his five-year contract was over, he had had enough. Others remember this composed account of events differently; Doug stood on his desk, yelled at the top of his lungs something along the lines of “I’m f*cking glad to be out of there” and was never seen again. Henry’s counterpart, Doug Kenney, whom most interviewees believed embodied the magazine, is the one truly described by the title Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead. His story – Ivy League brainiac turned millionaire and then drug addict – is the emotional crux of the film.
Drunk Stoned Brilliant is a fast-paced documentary that provides an oft needed dose of nostalgia for older audiences, as well as a fascinating history of modern comedy for a younger one. Judd Apatow, creator of cult classics like the television series Freaks and Geeks, as well as Bridesmaids, cites The National Lampoon as an inspiration. For most of the film, Tirola relies on the comedy of the magazine to speak for itself – although some of it is outdated for a progressive audience. The use of animation cleverly brought the magazine to life via film.
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon isn’t groundbreaking, but certainly weaves in the opinions of many egotistical people in a manner that’s as honest and entertaining as its interviewees can be.
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon is currently playing at select theaters.