What Doug Kenney Meant To Me, Though I Never Knew It

Doug Kenney may be heavily responsible for my fucked up and twisted sense of humor. As a kid, National Lampoon magazines were often laying about in random people’s houses. I was already into Mad magazine, but National Lampoon was far beyond it. Though the humor and imagery was entirely inappropriate for my age, and though I couldn’t yet grasp the deeper meaning of most of the material, I loved it. It was forbidden and raw.
Animal House came out and I, along with everyone else in the nation, loved that movie and quoted it incessantly. Plus, as a young boy, a chance to see boobs was quite welcome! The mixture of humor, sexuality and subversiveness was entirely attractive to me.
Saturday Night Live was something I loved, and very likely would not have happened if it weren’t for Doug Kenney bringing together all those people in the first place. Before they were SNL, they were part of National Lampoon, especially Lemmings.
I junior high school, I happened upon Bored of the Rings. I was already a huge Tolkien fan. I have no idea how many time I re-read that book in those years. It inspired me to start on a parody of Dune called “Loon”. One character was Thufir Huhwhat, who was a Mental, the stupidest race in the universe. You can see where that was going. I never finished it and those writings are lost to the wind.
My stepbrother had a record collection and among them was Lemmings. National Lampoon’s parody of Woodstock. I had listened to my mom’s original Woodstock soundtrack many times and was quite into it. I started listening to Lemmings over and over, around the same time as I was reading Bored of the Rings all the time.
I had never connected the single name that was behind all of this: Doug Kenney.
I didn’t realize who he was until seeing the documentary “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead”. All of a sudden all these pieces connected and I mourned the loss of someone who meant so much to me all my life while I was completely unaware of their existence. I nabbed the entire National Lampoon magazine run in digital form and lapped it up.
Then, last night, I watched “A Futile and Stupid Gesture” which was a biopic rather than a documentary, and it was tragically wonderful. It left me in a very bittersweet nostalgia. Then I found out it was based on the biography in book form of the same name. I read a bunch of it today, and reading about what Doug was like as a child and through his adolesence and entering into adulthood…it was like reading about myself. The similarities between how he was and how I was was actually kind of scary. Like a single psyche split into two rather different lives.
Perhaps the reason I haven’t, until now, seriously pursued my writing and comedy is because I’m afraid that if I find success, I may end up falling off a cliff while looking for a place to jump.
But, you know, fuck it. It beats dying of old age after decades of wasting away in cubicles.

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