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"If You Don't Buy This Book, We'll Kill This Dog!": Life, Laughs, Love, and Death at the National Lampoon Hardcover – March, 1994


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Barricade Books; First Edition edition (March 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569800022
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569800027
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,156,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This chatty, anecdotal account of the rise and demise of the humor magazine National Lampoon also serves as a reminder that, even in its most freewheeling, iconoclastic forms, the entertainment business is just that--a business. As the founding publisher of the Lampoon , Simmons has worked with many of the great humorists of our time, and his colorful stories about P. J. O'Rourke and John Belushi--to name only two--make amusing reading. But money remains one of the chief concerns of Simmons's memoir. While he is proud of the magazine's funniest moments, the talents it nursed and the successful projects it spawned--the hit movies Animal House and National Lampoon's Vacation , among others--he also makes it plain that success in the publishing and film industries is dependent partly on the ability to wheel and deal. Bad or unlucky financial planning brought the company repeatedly to the brink of bankruptcy, and the latter part of Simmons's book is mired in accounts of endless power struggles, takeover bids and financial concerns. But as a cautionary tale on surviving the vicissitudes of the entertainment biz, the book is instructive. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Matty Simmons, the ousted chairman and founding father-figure of National Lampoon, has the corner office in his personal history of its first two twisted decades of reinventing American humor. The National Lampoon is the closest thing the Baby Boom has to an institution for its sense of humor, having produced, under Simmons, some of the most tasteless and hilarious writing, theater revues, radio shows, and movies. Its multitalented, multimedia alumni continue to make jokes--the book's cast of characters reads like Michael Ovitz's Rolodex. Simmons's ``first professional relationship with the joke,'' however, was writing gags for Walter Winchell; his other magazine accomplishment was starting up Weight Watchers. Despite this incongruous background, in 1969 Simmons agreed to provide the publishing expertise and front money for a national humor magazine produced by two Harvard (Lampoon) graduates, Henry Beard and Doug Kenney, who were ready for national exposure with their say-anything-if-it's-funny brand of humor. In his book Simmons covers National Lampoon's turbulent editorial periods of fluctuating staff and private vendettas, its haphazard film projects (e.g. Jaws 3People 0, starring Bo Derek, directed by Joe Dante, and reportedly killed by Steven Spielberg), its recurrent controversy--from libel suits by Walt Disney and Liza Minnelli to advertising and newsstand boycotts spurred by guardians of public morality--and finally its disastrous takeover in the late '80s by a group led by one of the actors from Animal House. But Simmons's chronicle relies too often on oddly mundane showbiz anecdotes and shaggy dog stories, as if there were a generation gap in his sense of humor. Simmons does not rise to the numerous occasions for satire and sick jokes, though the Lampoon's history is as warped and blackly comic as any of its creations. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

2.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
National Lampoon virgins are th only ones I would recommend this book to. A superficial history of the institution that the lampoon became is all it amounts to. Again only read if you are new to the national lampoon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. Gilbert on April 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was so excited to read this book - I loved the National Lampoon and couldn't be a bigger fan of Doug Kinney, etc. This book isn't very good. Most of the time it seemed like some sort of rebuttal book for someone else's tell-all (which I need to find now, btw) and way too many financial details, which frankly are really boring. There is a good story here somewhere - hopefully someone else will tackle it someday and do the Lampoon justice.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 20, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This book actually will only score a "7" for die-hard National Lampoon fans. Author Simmons was more like an unfunny father figure with a lot of advertising knowledge than the person behind the driven and deranged staff that was responsible for the funniest magazine of all time.Matty Simmons keeps it all in the first person, and in a fascinating read, takes you through the history of the publication, from its squabbles with local Harvard Lampoon, to its fledgling stage shows with Chevy Chase and John Belushi, to its megastardom with its Vacation films to its final undoing from writer Tony Hendra and actor Timothy Hutton, who engineered a hostile take over in the late 80's
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
In its heyday, the National Lampoon was a wonderfully funny and irreverent magazine. If you remember that and are seeking to recapture something of that magic, don't bother reading this book, which is simply a hurriedly assembled memoir by a not-too-bright hanger-on.
There's a story to be told here, but Matty Simmons is incapable of telling it.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Theseus on March 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ok, so Simmons isn't that much of a writer. And, ok, he isn't much of a storyteller, either. And he apparently doesn't have anything significant to say about what it was like to be the business person trying to manage a bunch of headstrong, brilliant, drug-addled prima donnas.

But what is particularly galling about this book is that Simmons assumes that something that John Hughes worked on in 1986 is as important and as interesting as the work that was being done by Christopher Guest, Doug Kenney, Tony Hendra, Chris Miller, John Belushi, Gahan Wilson, et al. in, say, 1974. Idiotic.

This is not to say that Simmons was an idiot. In fact, some of his contributions to *Animal House* show him to be perceptive and intuitve when it comes to comedy and the structure of plots. But precious little of that shows up in this book.

This book is important only as a record -- something that balances out the recollections collected in other books.
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