The Harvard Lampoon

The Harvard Lampoon is an undergraduate humor publication founded in 1876 by seven undergraduates at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Harvard Lampoon
Castle Lasers-1
The Harvard Lampoon Building on the night of its 100th anniversary celebration. Designed by Edmund M. Wheelwright.
CategoriesHumor magazine
Year foundedFebruary 1876
Based inHarvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
Harvard Lampoon Building - IMG 1316
View of the Harvard Lampoon Castle


The Harvard Lampoon publication was founded in 1876 by seven undergraduates at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts who were inspired by popular magazines like Punch (1841) and Puck (1871).[1][2]The Harvard Lampoon is the world's second longest-running continually published humor magazine (after Nebelspalter). It is the oldest continually published college humor magazine.

The organization also produces occasional humor books (the best known being the 1969 J. R. R. Tolkien parody Bored of the Rings) and parodies of national magazines such as Entertainment Weekly and Sports Illustrated. Much of the organization's capital is provided by the licensing of the "Lampoon" name to National Lampoon, begun by Harvard Lampoon graduates in 1970.

The Lampoon publishes five issues annually. In 2006, the Lampoon began regularly releasing content on its website, including pieces from the magazine and web-only content. In 2009, the Lampoon published a parody of Twilight called Nightlight, which is a New York Times bestseller.[3] In February 2012, the Lampoon released a parody of The Hunger Games called The Hunger Pains.[4][5] It is also a New York Times bestseller.[6]

Lampoon ibis 1888
Lampoon's Ibis Mascot c.1888

The Lampoon is housed a few blocks from Harvard Square in a mock-Flemish castle, the Harvard Lampoon Building. It has been ranked by the magazine Complex as the fifth most phallic building in the world.[7]

The Lampoon is known for its bacchanalian parties, which can result in smashed plates and furniture.

Harvard lampoon tps
Lampy posing in an image from an 1886 Lampoon


HUPSF Lampoon Folder1 Image3 1885.pdf
The 1885 Lampoon staff includes several notables, such as philosopher G. Santayana and newspaperman W.R. Hearst
Lampoon 1886
Title Dingbat from an 1886 Lampoon

The Harvard Lampoon was first published in 1876 by seven founders including Ralph Wormeley Curtis, Edward Sandford Martin, Edmund March Wheelwright, and Arthur Murray Sherwood,[8] (father of Robert E. Sherwood).[9] The first issue of the Lampoon was a single copy, nailed to a tree in Harvard Yard. In its earliest years the magazine focused primarily on the satirization of Harvard and Boston Brahmin society.

As the Lampoon began to gain notoriety on campus, the society moved from offices in Hollis Hall, to addresses on Holyoke and Plympton streets respectively. These collections of rooms rented by the trustees of the Lampoon were famous not only for their beer nights, but also with the regularity that the Lampoon spent the profits made on each magazine for these beer nights. "It was a good night when the Lampoon could afford coal and beer, and they often had to choose between one or the other." Pranks abounded in the early years, some more destructive than others." William Randolph Hearst was expelled from Harvard after sending a pudding pot used as a chamber pot to a professor.[10]

A Lampoon graduate from 1887, Archibald Cary Coolidge, professor of architecture at Harvard College, was chosen as the architect of Randolph Hall, one of the colleges newest dormitories. Legend has it that when designing Randolph, Coolidge purposefully made the dormitory recessed further back from Mt. Auburn Street than was at first designed, purchasing for himself the land the Castle now stands on. The design of the castle was given to Edmund M. Wheelwright, then city architect of Boston.

The Lampoon and its sensibility began to branch out away from the Harvard campus in the early 1960s, and soon became an especially important expression and feeder system of American humor and comedy since that time. In 1961, Mademoiselle offered the Lampoon staff an honorarium to produce a parody of their own magazine for the traditionally lower-selling July issue. The project boosted Mademoiselle's summer circulation along with the Lampoon's ever tenuous cash flow, and the magazine renewed its association with the Lampoon for a follow-up parody in July 1962, and a third parody issue (of Esquire) in July 1963. The magazine also produced a 70-page spoof of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels in 1962 titled Alligator, which was subsequently released by Random House. These projects proved popular, and led to full, nationally-distributed parodies of Playboy (1966), Time (1968), and Life (1969), and later, Cosmopolitan in 1972 and Sports Illustrated (1974).

An important line of demarcation came when Lampoon editors Douglas Kenney and Henry Beard wrote the Tolkien parody Bored of the Rings. The success of this book and the attention it brought its authors led directly to the creation of the National Lampoon magazine, which spun off a live show Lemmings, and then a radio show in the early 1970s, The National Lampoon Radio Hour, which featured such performers as Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Chevy Chase.

Writers from these shows were subsequently hired to help create Saturday Night Live. This was the first in a line of many TV shows that Lampoon graduates went on to write for, including The Simpsons, Futurama, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with David Letterman, Seinfeld, Friends, The League, NewsRadio, The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and dozens of others. An old copy of the magazine was shown in the fourth-season finale of NewsRadio, and referred to as the "nefarious scandal sheet."

Santayana image Lampoon XI 1886
Cartoon by philosopher G. Santayana, Harvard class of 1886
Masthead of The Harvard Lampoon humour publication
Masthead of the Harvard Lampoon

Lampoon alumni include such comedians as Conan O'Brien, Andy Borowitz, B. J. Novak, Greg Daniels, Michael Schur, and Colin Jost. Etan Cohen wrote for Beavis and Butt-Head as an undergraduate member. In 1986 former editor Kurt Andersen co-founded the satirical magazine Spy, which employed Lampoon writers Paul Simms and Eric Kaplan, and published the work of Lampoon alumni Patricia Marx, Lawrence O'Donnell and Mark O'Donnell. The Lampoon has also graduated many noted authors such as George Plimpton, George Santayana, John Updike, and William Gaddis. Actor Fred Gwynne was a cartoonist and president of the Lampoon. Famous Boston lawyer Bradley Palmer acted as treasurer for the Lampoon.

Celebrities often visit the Lampoon to be inducted as honorary members of the organization. Honorary members include Tony Hawk, Bill Cosby, Robin Williams, Elon Musk, Tracey Ullman, John Cleese, Jay Leno, Winston Churchill, Aerosmith, Adam Sandler, Billy Crystal, Ke$ha, Hugh Hefner, Ezra Pound, Kurt Vonnegut, the cast of Saturday Night Live, Sarah Silverman, and John Wayne.

It is disputed whether the etymology of "Lampoon" in the English language stems first from the Harvard Lampoon.

Rivalry with The Harvard Crimson

The Lampoon has a long-standing rivalry with Harvard's student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, which repeatedly refers to the Lampoon in its pages as a "semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization which used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine".

TPS hints on thesis writing Hvd Lampoon 1886
1886 example of Crimson-teasing by Lampoon editor T.P. Sanborn

A noted event in the history of the LampoonCrimson rivalry was the Crimson's 1953 theft of the Lampoon Castle's ibis statue and presentation of it as a gift to the government of the Soviet Union.[11][12]

On September 27, 2011, the Lampoon stole the Harvard Crimson President's Chair, and had it used as a prop on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.[13] On June 2, 2015, the Lampoon again stole the Harvard Crimson President's Chair, this time, pretending that it was the Harvard Crimson's editorial staff, they took the chair to Trump Tower to endorse now-President Donald Trump.[14]

In Popular Culture

The Fashionable Lampoon, a culture magazine based out of Italy and distributing globally, based its title on The Harvard Lampoon.[15]

Notable members


  1. ^ "Wright is cited as Comedian of Year". The Salina Journal. 4 April 1990. p. 24. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  2. ^ Rosenwald, Michael (March 11, 2001). "The last laugh". Boston Globe Magazine. Retrieved 2019-05-17.
  3. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer. "Hardcover". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "The Hunger Pains". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved 2019-05-17.
  5. ^ "The Hunger Pains". Amazon. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  6. ^ Cowles, Gregory. "Print & E-Books". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Schonberger, Nick (12 November 2012). "The 10 Most Ridiculous Phallic Buildings". Complex. Retrieved 2019-05-17.
  8. ^ "The Founders. A.D. 1876". The Harvard lampoon fiftieth anniversary 1876–1926. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard lampoon. 1926.
  9. ^ Report - Harvard College (1780– ). Class of 1877. 1917. p. 338.
  10. ^ The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Thirteenth edition. 2006.
  11. ^ "The Rhodes Roster". Harvard Magazine. March–April 2004. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  12. ^ "'Dove of Peace' is 'Bird'; Harvard Crimson's Gift to Reds Ends Up as Campus Prank". The New York Times. 22 April 1953. p. 24. Retrieved 2019-05-17.
  13. ^ "Crimson President's Chair on Jimmy Fallon!". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  14. ^ Zimmerman, Neetzan (3 August 2015). "Harvard Lampoon tricks Trump with fake endorsement". The Hill. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  15. ^ "LAMPOON, la nuova chiave di lettura della moda". (in Italian). Retrieved 2019-07-11.

External links

Bored of the Rings

Bored of the Rings is a parody of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. This short novel was written by Henry N. Beard and Douglas C. Kenney, who later founded National Lampoon. It was published in 1969 by Signet for the Harvard Lampoon. In 2013, an audio version was produced by Orion Audiobooks, narrated by Rupert Degas.

Daily Racing Form

The Daily Racing Form (DRF) (usually just referred to as the Racing Form) is a tabloid newspaper founded in 1894 in Chicago, Illinois, by Frank Brunell. The paper publishes the past performances of race horses as a statistical service for bettors on horse racing in North America.In cooperation with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, the Daily Racing Form selects the winners of the annual Eclipse Awards.

In 1922, the DRF publishing company was sold to Moses Annenberg's Triangle Publications, which would eventually be owned by Walter Annenberg. The Daily Racing Form currently is owned by Z Capital Partners, and is based at 708 3rd Avenue in New York City.

Notable DRF employees have included publisher emeritus Steven Crist, a former editor of the Harvard Lampoon and a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, cartoonist Pierre Bellocq (a.k.a. Peb), columnist Joe Hirsch, and longtime business manager Louis Iverson. Iverson reported to Annenberg for most of his tenure and was described as a manager who "threw nickels around like they were manhole covers".The Daily Racing Form currently publishes 30 editions daily.

Dan McGrath

Dan McGrath is an American television writer. He has written for Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, Mission Hill, The PJs and King of the Hill. He was a story editor for the first season of Gravity Falls.

McGrath was born in Brooklyn, New York and attended Harvard University. While at Harvard, he was a writer with the Harvard Lampoon. He and Conan O'Brien are friends and shared an apartment during McGrath's time at Harvard.

Daniel Chun

Daniel Chun is a Korean American comedy writer. He has written for The Office and The Simpsons. He received a Writers Guild Award nomination and an Annie Award for his work on The Simpsons. He was once head writer and an executive producer of The Office, receiving two Emmy nominations for his work on the show. Chun has also contributed to the Harvard Lampoon,, 02138 Magazine, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, and Vitals magazine, where he wrote the back page column. He wrote for the ABC comedy series Happy Endings, joining the show as a writer and producer in season three. In 2015, his ABC Studios pilot Grandfathered, starring John Stamos, was ordered to series on Fox.

Chun studied biological anthropology at Harvard University.He was named one of Variety's 10 TV Scribes To Watch in 2015.In 2019, Chun joined several WGA writers in firing their agents as part of the WGA's stand against the ATA and the unfair practice of packaging.

Geneva Robertson-Dworet

Geneva Robertson-Dworet (born May 8, 1985) is an American screenwriter. She rose to prominence after being hired in 2015 to rewrite the script for the 2018 Tomb Raider reboot, starring Alicia Vikander and directed by Roar Uthaug. She wrote the screenplay for Marvel Studios' female-led superhero film Captain Marvel (2019).She will write the screenplay for David Ayer's Gotham City Sirens film, as part of the DC Extended Universe. She is also writing the upcoming third Sherlock Holmes, the newest adaptation of the role playing game Dungeons & Dragons, and the screenplay for Artemis.She was originally slated to co-write Sony's Silver & Black, a team-up film about the Spider-Man characters Black Cat and Silver Sable, with Lindsey Beer. However the film was removed from Sony's production schedule and the project's future is unclear.Robertson-Dworet is a 2007 graduate of Harvard College. She wrote for The Harvard Lampoon during her time there. She is married to writer Hayes Davenport.

Harvard Lampoon Building

The Harvard Lampoon Building (sometimes referred to as the Lampoon Castle) is a historic building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is best known as the home of The Harvard Lampoon, and for its unusual design.

J. Stewart Burns

Joseph Stewart Burns is a television writer and producer most notable for his work on Unhappily Ever After, The Simpsons and Futurama.

Noted in the DVD commentaries of "The Deep South" and "Roswell That Ends Well", Stewart has an M.A. in Mathematics from UC Berkeley, where he studied under John Rhodes. He also attended Harvard University, where he wrote for the Harvard Lampoon. Aside from writing on the original series, Burns also wrote the script for the Futurama video game and one of the Spyro games.

Jeff Martin (writer)

Jeff Summerlin Martin is an American television producer and writer. He originally wrote for The Simpsons during the second, third, fourth and fifth seasons, and eventually returned over 20 years later to write again for seasons 27 and 28. He attended Harvard University, where he wrote for The Harvard Lampoon, as have many other Simpsons writers. He left along with most of the original staff in 1993, and has since written for several TV shows, including Listen Up!, Baby Blues and Homeboys in Outer Space. He also wrote for Late Night with David Letterman during the 1980s, and occasionally appeared on the show as Flunky the late-night viewer mail clown, a depressed clown who smoked cigarettes and sometimes talked about his infected tattoos. Martin won four Emmys during his time at Late Night.He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, fellow television producer and writer Suzanne Martin and his youngest daughter. His eldest daughter graduated from NYU in 2010.

John Brancato and Michael Ferris

John Brancato and Michael Ferris are an American screenwriting duo, whose notable works include The Game, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation, Surrogates and The Hunter's Prayer. Brancato and Ferris met while at college, where both were editors of The Harvard Lampoon. Ferris separately wrote two episodes of The Simpsons. The two have also been credited pseudonymously under the names Henry Dominic and Henry Dominick. Their partnership ended in 2015.


Lampoon may refer to one of the following:


Amphol Lampoon (born 1963), Thai actor and singer

The Harvard Lampoon, a noted humor magazine

National Lampoon (magazine), a defunct offshoot of Harvard Lampoon

National Lampoon, Incorporated, a 2002 company

Lew Morton

Lewis "Lew" Morton is an American television writer. He has written for several shows, including Saturday Night Live (from 1993-1995), NewsRadio, Family Guy and Futurama. He worked as a producer for Undeclared, but never authored any episodes. He also executive produced the film Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

During his time on Futurama Lewis wrote twelve episodes, making him and writer Ken Keeler the two writers who wrote the most episodes on that show as well as the most known.

Lewis also went to the same primary school as David X. Cohen. Morton also attended Harvard University, where he worked on The Harvard Lampoon.

Mark Driscoll (screenwriter)

Mark Driscoll (born February 3, 1959) is an American television producer and writer. He attended Boston Latin School and took a post graduate year at the Phillips Exeter Academy. Driscoll graduated from Harvard University in 1982; during his time there he was a member of the Harvard Lampoon. He shared a Primetime Emmy Award for his writing on the sitcom Ellen for the episode "The Puppy Episode".Driscoll's other television credits include Married... with Children, Suddenly Susan, According to Jim, Hope & Faith and 90210. Also he has been currently working on Grey's Anatomy.

Matt Hubbard

Matt Hubbard is an American television writer and screenwriter who has worked on many television shows. He graduated from Beverly High School, in Beverly, Massachusetts in the class of 1996, where he excelled in the English Department. He later went on to attend Harvard University where he was an editor for the Harvard Lampoon. He has worked as a writer on the NBC comedy series 30 Rock. He won Emmy awards in 2009 for both Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, for his 30 Rock episode "Reunion," and for Outstanding Comedy Series. He worked as a Consulting Producer on the last two seasons of Parks and Recreation.

Ryan Max Riley

Ryan Max Riley (born May 15, 1979) is a humorist and athlete who was a humor writer for The Harvard Lampoon. He competed on the World Cup for seven years and was a two-time US National Champion as an athlete on the U.S. Ski Team in the freestyle skiing events of moguls and dual moguls. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and earned master's degrees from the University of Oxford and Yale University.

Sanford Jay Frank

Sanford Jay "Sandy" Frank, also known as Sandy Frank (July 21, 1954 – April 18, 2014), was a television writer who was known as a writer for Late Night with David Letterman. He wrote for Letterman's NBC show for four years, during which the show won four Emmy Awards for comedy-variety writing. Frank had a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a law degree from Harvard and had written for The Harvard Lampoon.

He joined the writing staff for Late Night after running into his old college friend Jim Downey who served as head writer for the Letterman show and had been an original staff writer for Saturday Night Live. He also wrote for In Living Color and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Shana Goldberg-Meehan

Shana Goldberg-Meehan is an American television producer and television writer.

She was an executive producer of Friends and its spinoff Joey, which she also co-created along with Scott Silveri, whom she married in 2006 (they met when both were working on the Harvard Lampoon). In 2005, she left Joey while Silveri stayed on the show. In 2010, she created the series Better with You, which ended in 2011.Goldberg-Meehan's father was comedy writer Gary David Goldberg, best known for creating Family Ties.

Steve Hely

Steve Hely is an American writer, current co-executive producer on the series Veep.

Hely has written for the television shows Late Show with David Letterman (receiving an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Comedy Show), Last Call with Carson Daly, where he also served as an associate producer, American Dad!, 30 Rock, and The Office.Hely has also authored or co-authored two books. The Ridiculous Race, written with Vali Chandrasekaran and published in 2008 by Macmillan, chronicled a real-life race around the world between Hely and Chandrasekaran. Each set off from Los Angeles in opposite directions, with only one rule: "No airplanes." In 2009, Grove/Atlantic published Hely's debut novel, How I Became a Famous Novelist. Hely subsequently won the 2010 Thurber Prize for American Humor for the novel.Hely is the co-host of The Great Debates, a weekly podcast in which he debates the great issues of the day with David King. Hely often takes the pro, or more life-affirming stance.

Hely attended the Roxbury Latin School and Harvard University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree. While at Harvard, Hely served two terms as president of the Harvard Lampoon.

Steve Tompkins

Steve Tompkins is an American television writer. He attended Harvard University and wrote for the Harvard Lampoon; he graduated in 1988. He has worked on such television shows such as The Critic, In Living Color, Entourage, The Bernie Mac Show and The Knights of Prosperity. He was also with The Simpsons, for its seventh and eighth seasons; after leaving he co-created The PJs, with Larry Wilmore and Eddie Murphy. He was also the executive producer on the Nickelodeon animated series Fanboy & Chum Chum (with Fred Seibert) and also voiced the character Janitor Poopatine.

That's Not Funny, That's Sick (book)

That's Not Funny, That's Sick: The National Lampoon and the Comedy Insurgents Who Captured the Mainstream is a book written by the journalist Ellin Stein, and published by Norton in June 2013. Based on many interviews, the book is a history covering some of National Lampoon magazine's lifespan and that of some of its creators, starting with the original founders' time spent at The Harvard Lampoon, and ending in 1980 after the funeral of co-founder Doug Kenney.

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