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The Harvard Lampoon is an undergraduate humor publication and social organization founded in 1876 at Harvard Universitymarker in Cambridgemarker, Massachusettsmarker.


Published five times yearly, The Harvard Lampoon was originally modelled on the former British satirical periodical Punch and has outlived it to become the world's longest-running English-language 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 Castle is also home to the Harvard Lampoon Social Club, a social organization guided by principles of humor and ingenuity, rumored to exist several floors beneath the Castle. The club is highly secretive, and reportedly maintains ties with one of Harvard's oldest secret societies, The Med Fac, founded in 1818.

The organization is housed a few blocks from Harvard Squaremarker in a small mock-Flemish castle with a copper statue of an ibis on the roof. The Lampoon is known for its bacchanalian parties, which can result in smashed plates and furniture.


The Harvard Lampoon began in 1876, three years after the founding of The Harvard Crimson. However, the Lampoon and its sensibility have been an especially important expression of American humor and comedy since the late 1960s. 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 introducing such performers as Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Chevy Chase. Lampoon writers from these shows were subsequently hired to help create Saturday Night Live, and that show's impact and alumni still supply some of America's comedy today.

In 1933, members of the Harvard Lampoon stole the Sacred Cod of Massachusetts, in an event known as the "Cod-napping."

In 2006, the Lampoon began regularly releasing content on their website, including pieces from the magazine and web-only content. In October 2007, the Lampoon launched a new design for its website:

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".

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

Notable alumni

Notable Harvard Lampoon alumni include William Randolph Hearst, George Santayana, John Reed, Robert Benchley, William Gaddis, George Plimpton, Fred Gwynne, John Updike, Douglas Kenney, Ian Frazier, Jim Downey, Andy Borowitz, Conan O'Brien, Cass Sunstein, B.J. Novak, and Simon Rich.. Numerous writers and producers for The Simpsons, Futurama, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with David Letterman, Seinfeld, NewsRadio, The Office, 30 Rock, and dozens of other television comedies and feature films at one time wrote for the Lampoon.

Honorary Members

Many celebrities have visited the Lampoon Castle as honorary members. The long list includes, among others, Winston Churchill, Kurt Vonnegut, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Chevy Chase, David Foster Wallace, John Cleese, Bill Cosby, Jon Stewart, John Irving, John Wayne, James Brown, The Strokes, and Aerosmith. Also, it is a yearly tradition for the current cast of SNL to visit the castle. The most recent guests have been Zach Braff, Dan Aykroyd, and Paris Hilton. Their visits are documented on the Lampoon website.

See also


External links

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