The National Lampoon Radio Hour

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The National Lampoon Radio Hour
GenreComedy, satire
Country of originUnited States
StarringJohn Belushi
Chevy Chase
Richard Belzer
Christopher Guest
Bill Murray
Gilda Radner
Brian Doyle-Murray
Harold Ramis
Joe Flaherty
Original releaseNovember 17, 1973

The National Lampoon Radio Hour was a comedy radio show which was created, produced and written by staff from National Lampoon magazine.[1]

The show ran weekly, for a little over a year, from November 17, 1973 to December 28, 1974.[citation needed] Originally an hour in length, after 13 weeks it was cut down to half-an-hour due to the difficulty of putting together the very considerable amount of material required for a one-hour show.[citation needed]

Original series[edit]

The show was created and produced by Michael O'Donoghue.[citation needed] When O'Donoghue left, later producers included Sean Kelly, Brian McConnachie and John Belushi.[citation needed]

Performers on the show included John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, John DeBella,[2] Gilda Radner, and Harold Ramis, who was one of the co-writers for National Lampoon's Animal House. Other writers and performers on the show included Anne Beatts, Richard Belzer,[1] Christopher Cerf, Brian Doyle-Murray, Joe Flaherty, Christopher Guest, who did many of the show's musical parodies, Ed Subitzky, Douglas Kenney (another co-writer of Animal House) and Bruce McCall.

The Radio Hour was recorded in a studio specially built at the National Lampoon offices at 635 Madison Avenue, New York City. The musical theme for the show was co-written and performed by Bob Hoban and Nate Herman.

The show was broadcast nationally on 600 different radio stations, but the stations picking it up were free to air it at any time they chose. It proved difficult to get enough advertising to support the series: national sponsors seemed reluctant to take on the show, probably because of the controversial nature of much of its material.

When the show folded, several of the performers and writers moved on to Saturday Night Live. Michael O'Donoghue was head writer for the first three seasons of Saturday Night Live, and this may explain why some of the radio show material, such as "What if Ed Sullivan Were Tortured?" was subsequently re-purposed for television. Ramis and Flaherty instead joined SCTV.

Two examples of the sometimes shocking humor of the Radio Hour are sketches featuring game shows entitled "Catch it and Keep it" (prizes - some quite lethal - are dropped from a great height to the crowd below), and "Land a Million" (in which a housewife is left alone in an airborne Boeing 747 containing $1 million in cash and a ton of TNT and must answer questions about literature in order to receive tips on how to land the plane safely).


National Lampoon released 5 albums that were created entirely with, or partly with, material from the Radio Hour:

Gold Turkey was also subsequently issued as a CD. In 1996 Rhino Records released a multi-CD/tape box set, The Best of the National Lampoon Radio Hour, which borrowed one of the magazine's classic covers ("Buy this box or we'll shoot this dog"). The set includes many of the best sketches, and has extensive liner notes detailing the history of the show.

National Lampoon also released 3 albums that predated the Radio Hour. Several items from these earlier works were either reworked, or made it on to the Radio Hour in their original format:

Reboot podcast[edit]

In 2019, the show was rebooted with a new cast,[3] featuring Cole Escola, Jo Firestone, Brett Davis, Alex English, Maeve Higgins, Aaron Jackson, Rachel Pegram, Lorelei Ramirez, Megan Stalter and Martin Urbano. The new show premiered on December 19, 2019 as podcast on ForeverDog, as well as a video series for Roku. The reboot was executive-produced by then-National Lampoon CEO Evan Shapiro, Cole Escola, Alex Ramsey, Joe Cilio, and Brett Boham. Producers included Kevin Frakes, Raj Singh, Brandon Tamburri, Jo Firestone, and Ryan Kreston. The video series was directed by Brandon Tamburri and Tracy Soren.[4]


  1. ^ a b "'The National Lampoon Radio Hour'". NPR. November 17, 2003.
  2. ^ Valania, Jonathan (July 3, 2002). "John DeBella". Philadelphia Weekly. Archived from the original on January 31, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  3. ^ Wright, Megh (2019-09-19). "The National Lampoon Radio Hour to Feature All Your Favorite Comedy Babies". Vulture. Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  4. ^ "'National Lampoon Radio Hour' Podcast Premieres Dec. 19". November 12, 2019.

External links[edit]