National Lampoon January 1995 (John Hayes) - Sex in America: The Joy of Surveys

(National Lampoon Revisited)  The first thing I noticed about the January/February 1995 issue of National Lampoon (NL) was that I could not find it in the bookstores.  I finally found it at an independent newsstand in the Lakewood Mall.  And yes, it's a bi-monthly now.  Does the world of the 1990s have less of an appetite for humor than the world of the 1970s?

The theme of this issue is "Sex in America."  They must be recycling those themes after 25 years.  Nobody will notice.  Actually, this is the first of six 25th anniversary issues promised for 1995 (not to be confused with the six 24th anniversary issues of 1994).  I stopped reading NL (the monthly) in 1976 because it seemed that the editorial staff had stagnated.  I thought that they were relying too much on sexual humor.  But, as we all know, "sex sells."  But does it provide more fuel for humor than any other subject?

The letters page was familiar.  It's now called "Letters ... from the Editors" (as if we didn't know).  Do the 1990s readers need to be told that these letters are meant to be satirical?  Following the letters are the gossip column (The Hollywood) and the news column (Know Your Knews).  Neither is a suitable replacement for Mrs. Agnew's Diary.  I did not see one item worth mentioning.  Maybe NL has reached the ultimate level: anti-humor.

I found a familiar name from 1970 on page 15.  Ed Subitsky provides a well-written piece of black humor that satirizes homeless people by calling them "money-free".  The article goes on for 3-1/2 pages and has some drawings that I assume were done by Ed.  Yes, it is a clever concept and yes, it is dark humor in the NL tradition, but it seems to be a one-joke idea that deserves somewhat less than 3-1/2 pages in a national humor magazine.

The same could be said for the article that followed.  In the first offering of "Wake-Up America!", a criminal escapes a life sentence because he was legally dead for four minutes during a minor medical procedure.  I get the feeling that some editor told this writer to give him three pages of print about this convenient technicality.

The optimist in me wanted to find some good stuff in the 1995 bi-monthly.  The following are what I found.

The cover lady (Hope Allen) is sexy (but not funny).

The feature article is an excellent parody of Reader's Digest albeit in a twisted form.  The format and style are faithful to the original.

There are two humorous half-page advertisements on pages 18 and 23: "Injury Is No Laughing Matter" and "No Fuss Pets" (video tapes of disgusting pets).  But these are real ads (I think).

The reader-submitted "Signed Photos" is very good.

In conclusion, I must say that the comics at the end are terrible.  The "Funny Pages", which gave us Gahan Wilson, Dirty Duck and Vaughn Bode's Cheech Wizard, have deteriorated to several poorly-drawn, unfunny pages.  My final impressions of the 1995 NL are: it's a bi-monthly and the comics are not funny.  Doug Kenney and Michael O'Donoghue are dead, but surely there are some other editors from the 1970s staff who can resurrect the "Humor Magazine."  It is sad to see this substandard version carrying on the fine name of National Lampoon. [Jamlog]