Harvard is Funny

A Scrutiny by Zachary Heineman and Eliot I. Hodges

Somewhere off the coast off Maine lies a small island littered with historical artifacts relating to the Knight's Templar and the Holy Grail. This island is one of two "Lampoon compounds," where members past and present meet, essential connections are made and lucrative jobs in comedy writing are found. A "comedy cult," if you will. The other compound is a similar island off the coast of Iceland. Once a Lampoon alumnus calls a meeting--and not just any of them can do so--members often travel from afar to one of the two islands.

Congregations in Maine tend to be more "serious," partly because of the retreat's association with Medfac, a Harvard secret society with connections to Yale's Skull and Bones and the Germanic Masons. The society was banned by the University a number of years ago after it spiraled out of control, blowing up the old pump in the Yard and torturing freshmen by tying them up and holding them underwater in the Charles. But today Medfac maintains its ties with the Lampoon, sharing the Maine retreat and its old, secret society stuff with the hallowed humor magazine. "I don't believe in the power [of the mason's magic], but I think a lot of major players in world history have had these secret society connections," says Nick Malis '97, from whom this entire description comes. Malis "sort of" got his current job writing jokes for Craig Kilborn through a retreat to the compound. "It helps to know the people at the meetings," he understates.

What's so funny about two islands, a few artifacts and some secret society connections? Well, the fact that Malis is probably fucking with us. There's a strong chance that he is. Either way, there is a glimmer of truth behind the elaborate "fabrication." In the comedy writing world, being a Lampoon (or even just a Harvard) alum at least guarantees some recognition. But being funny is an obvious prerequisite. "No one would hire a bad writer from Harvard over a talented one from somewhere else," says Michael Reiss '81, formerly executive producer of "The Simpsons." Other alums dispute the notion of a direct "pipeline" to Hollywood. "The big myth about the Lampoon is that you'll automatically get a job," says Malis, although his credibility is suspect.

talent vs. opportunity
Lampoon connections, however, do ensure that scripts get read, one of the biggest obstacles to making it big in the entertainment biz. "Talent is one thing, but opportunity is another," says Mark O'Donnell '76. While writing for SNL, a job that he landed without the help of the Lampoon, O'Donnell saw countless unsolicited scripts come in the mail, an indication of the tough market that exists for aspiring comedy writers. "There were piles and piles of them in this one room," he says. "It looked like a Staten Island junk yard." Not always on the receiving end, O'Donnell once found himself at a Christmas party chatting with the editor of the New York Times Sunday Magazine. "I love your humor; you should send it to us," he said. "I already have," O'Donnell replied. Where luck is key, the Lampoon can make you luckier. There's no shortage of wannabe writers, and almost everyone in the business acknowledges that being Harvard, and particularly Lampoon, helps to rise above the crowd. "The industry is connection-based," says Gail Gilmore, a councilor at Harvard's Office of Career Services. "I encourage students to use the connections." Harvard writers tend to work on shows with a number of fellow alums--"The Simpsons" employed 10 Lampoon writers out of its total of 12 at one point.

Almost all alums in hiring positions try to downplay the deference they give to other grads. "I don't necessarily give any preference to Lampoon people, but sometimes they have more experience," says Bill Oakley '88, a one-time Simpsons writer, now producing his own animated show, "Mission Hill." The large number of Lampoon grads in Hollywood and the perception of easy connections to jobs has given rise to the nomer "Lampoon mafia." "There is a definite Mafia," says Patricia A. Marx '75, the first female member of the Lampoon. "The Lampoon has a lot to do with it. We came out of college having done this for four years." The Lampoon comp is similar to getting a job in the real world, where writers produce speculative scripts, a sort-of comedy writer's resume. Says Reiss, "They really weed out a lot of people."

But not attending Harvard doesn't mean you're shit out of luck. "If you have a great script, you can even come from the University of Florida," says Adam Braun, a comedy agent out in LA. "[The Lampoon's] a leg up, but it's not the be-all, end-all." Billy Kimball '81, executive producer for "The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn," asserts that the Lampoon connection doesn't sway him in any way. "Agents call me all the time saying 'so and so is from Harvard' as if that is supposed to excite me," he says.

Some Poonsters, have had first-hand experience with the "Lampoon mafia." "They slashed my tires and beat me up; I saw them kill a guy. It's very real," says Rodman Flender '84, director of the recent film "Idle Hands." Reiss has a lighter take on the situation. "It's unfair to call it a "Lampoon Mafia" because the Mafia has a code of honor," he says.

Sometimes Harvard can hinder more than it helps. When Nick Malis (dubious source) applied for a writing job at the Tom Greene Show, the connection certainly didn't grease the wheels for him. "They said they weren't looking for that Lampoon, Ivy League kind of humor. They said they were looking more for 'skateboarder'-type humor," Malis says.

Nonetheless, comedy writers who didn't graduate from Harvard are awed by the connections. "It's a direct feeder into the writing world," says Jason Cahill who graduated from Yale in some year Anno Domini. Are the non-Harvard writers bitter? Kimball thinks they likely are. "There's almost nothing in the world that comedy writers aren't bitter or resentful about," he says. "They're among the most jealous bunch you'll ever encounter." Mark O'Donnell is a bit more optimistic about the attitude of non-Harvard writers. "Just like soldiers on a battlefield, you're all in it together." Peter Saffron, a manager at Brillstein-Gray Entertainment, has the most likely explanation. "I think there's very little resentment because the quality of [Harvard grads] work," he says. "It's not as if they're skating along."

Other schools, such as the University of Wisconsin (The Onion), UCLA and Emerson College in Boston, are also fairly well-represented. Some are quick to point out that Harvard grads really do only make up a small percentage of all comedy writers. Says Saffron, "When people are Harvard grads, they like to let everyone know. That's why it seems like there's so many of them." Bill Oakley, the West Coast trustee of the Lampoon, also feels the "Harvard mafia" is exaggerated. Out of the 133 Lampoon people he knows are living in Southern California, Oakley estimates only 65-70 of them are involved in the entertainment business. Even though Harvard grads only make up a small percentage of comedy writers overall, they tend to have been very well represented in shows such as "The Simpsons," "SNL" and "Late Night with David Letterman." When it comes to the big shows, there is a definite Harvard presence. But it all has happened for a reason.

lampoon rising
While today the Lampoon may be searching through the couch cushions for talent, is financially far from destitute and has a well-maintained Castle and well-filled coffers. But the Jester of Destiny didn't always smile lightly upon the Lampoon. The late '50s were a bleak period for the magazine, with circulation near zero and its castle in disrepair. This changed in 1965 with the election of Walker Lewis '67 as the organization's president. Under him, the Lampoon published multiple, extraordinarily popular parodies of Playboy, The New Yorker and Popular Mechanics. Some publications, such as Mademoiselle, even sought to be parodied by the Lampoon for promotional reasons. The 1966 Playboy parody, which gained the support of Hugh Hefner, sold over 550,000 copies, and Henry Beard '67 and Doug Kenney '68's Tolkien parody "Bored of the Rings" sold over 750,000 copies. As a result the magazines treasury jumped from around $3,000 to over $150,000.

The huge sales didn't just mean a facelift for the decrepit Castle; they also marked the Lampoon's evolution from an insular Ivy-League publication into a national humor magazine, setting the scene for the later forged trail to Hollywood. In the late '60s, with the New Yorker as essentially the sole outlet for non-performed comic creativity, poonsters began to blaze their own trail. In 1969, Beard, Kenney, and Rob Hoffmann '69 licensed the Lampoon name from the Harvard Lampoon and began publishing the National Lampoon. Out of the three, Kenney was the true comic genius, and in 1978 he co-wrote "Animal House," which, having grossed over $140 million, remains the highest-earning comedy to date. Kenney, able to stick his entire fist in his mouth as a party trick, is featured in the movie as Stork, who leads the marching band down a dead-end alley in the final melee. Kenney's "Caddyshack" soon follwed in 1980, as did his mysterious death in Hawaii. His body was found at the bottom of a steep hill, rented jeep still parked above, leaving it unclear whether he had slipped (perhaps while stoned) or been given a little help.

The three National Lampoon founders sold their share in 1975 for $7.5 million; by then the magazine was a landmark on the humor landscape. "You can't tell whether they created or coined or epitomized an attitude of the media saturated baby-boom culture," says Steve O'Donnell '76, Mark's twin and a long-time writer (creator of the top-ten list) for the "Late Show with David Letterman." The magazine was known for its irreverence to things that had been held sacred in the past. "There was this big door that said, 'Thou shalt not.' We touched it, and it fell of its hinges," Beard recalled fifteen years later. The National Lampoon was responsible for the off-broadway hit "Lemmings" in 1973. The cast featured Chevy Chase and John Belushi, who later that year would join the "National Lampoon Radio Hour." Gilda Radner and Bill Murray jumped on in 1974. But it wasn't long before a young Canadian named Lorne Michaels ran across the performers while casting a new NBC show. "If you look at the cast of the 'National Lampoon Comedy Hour,' you'll see that it was 'Saturday Night Live'," said Michael O'Donoghue, a Lampoon writer. "Lorne Michaels just put it on TV."

Doug Kenney soon passed the Harvard comedy torch to James Downey '74, by recommending him to Lorne Michaels. After joining SNL in its second season, Downey went on to produce and serve as head writer. In hiring a number of Harvard grads at SNL, including Conan O'Brien '85, Downey truly established the link between Harvard and showbiz, later strengthened by "Letterman" and "The Simpsons," among other shows. A number of Harvard grads got their start at HBO's "Not Necessarily the News," before moving on to these more well-known shows. According to Reiss, producers Pat Lee and John Moffitt found the Lampoon to be a very dependable source of writers, hiring around 20 Harvard grads over the life of the show.

from the halls of ivy to the woods of holly
Though Hoffman, Kenney and Beard blazed a path, a career in comedy was never considered a solid possibility for any Harvard grad until the mid-1980s. Part of this was the sense that comedy writing was an unacceptable career. "There was a time in the '60s and '70s when [a career in comedy] was perceived as being low-class. Like a stand-up comedian in the Catskills," says Mark O'Donnell. Picture the vacationing crowd in "Dirty Dancing." Twin Steve compares this view to advertising in the 1930s and '40s which was considered "middle brow at best."

But since Cambridge's sons and daughters tend to follow the big money, many feel it was only a matter of time before they migrated to the West in droves. "It's great to get paid to shoot the shit all day," says James Eagan '99, who is currently writing spec. scripts in hopes of getting a job come March when shows usually start hiring. "TV and movies are the business of America, for good or ill," says Steve O'Donnell.

When Michael Reiss was at the Lampoon around 1980 "there wasn't any sense that you would go off to Hollywood." However, thanks to Reiss and Jean making a breakthrough at "The Simpsons," Harvard grads began heading west en masse, and the 1980s witnessed a Harvard comedy renaissance. But not all were confident that comedy writing could really pay the bills. "Bill Oakley was one of the only people who wanted to be a comedy writer," says David S. (changed to X. for a futuristic feel) Cohen '88. Cohen studied computer science at Berkeley before heading south to write for "The Simpsons." "I was not fully convinced that you could turn [comedy writing] into a career, but then I saw my friends using it as a form of employment."

the simpsons
Perhaps "The Simpsons" most asserted Harvard prominence and dominance in comedy writing. Over 20 Harvard writers have worked on the show. Al Jean III '81 and Reiss executive produced the show in the '80s. Oakley did so in the '90s. As any Harvard freshman is quick to point out, the show contains numerous Harvard references, such as museum curator Hollis Hurlbut, Springfield elementary (19 Plympton St.), and the local Kwik-E-Mart (57 Mt. Auburn St.), put in, according to Oakley, for each other, their friends and the hard-core fans.

"We didn't miss any opportunity to bash Yale, but we tried not to be too self-indulgent," Oakley says. All the bad guys on the show went to Yale. Mr. Burns was a member of the Skull & Bones while sociopathic "Sideshow Bob" has both a Yale degree and a few attempted murder convictions under his belt. According to Reiss, "The Simpsons" does a fair amount of harm. "It has a certain amount of raunch and nihilism," he says. In response, the show developed a brainy stance that all facts should be accurate. In one episode, Apu says that the millionth digit of pi is zero. The writers went to math professors to ensure that the digit was correct. Very Harvard. In Reiss' favorite episode, Krusty the Klown confronts his estranged father, a rabbi. The story ends with a talmudic debate. "We had three rabbis helping us on that one," says Reiss. "'The Simpsons' and 'Seinfeld' reflected a higher standard," says Mark O'Donnell, who attributes this to the preponderance of Harvard grads on these shows.

"If you're lazy, funny, and smart, comedy writing is for you," jokes Aaron Ehasz '95. In reality, the long hours put in by Oakley and others have impressed him. "You gain a new understanding of work ethic when you see 30 writer hours [10 writers times three hours] spent on one line." Reiss describes how writers routinely worked 80 hours a week on the Simpsons.

In Michael Reiss' estimation, Harvard grads make up one percent of all comedy writers, 10-20 percent of "quality" comedy writers and 70 percent of animated comedy writers. Why are Harvard grads so much more prevalent in animated shows? Bill Oakley suggests that it may be a self-perpetuating cycle. "When people left the Simpsons, they were well-equipped to work on (or start) other animated shows." Reiss and partner Jean started "The Critic." Oakley himself went on to start "Mission Hill," which has five Harvard grads on its staff. Certainly there is a fan-out effect, but many grads seem to gravitate toward the animated medium. Says Cohen, "There's a freedom that you don't have with other shows. The writer is in a greater position of power at the animated show. The writer is much more the ultimate authority." Certainly, authority appeals to Harvard grads.

wasted potential?
Four years at the most famous university in the world would seem to lead to loftier pursuits than showbiz. "There was a certainty that I wasted [my education]," proudly proclaims Marx, who also attended graduate school in England. "But I think the more you know the more you can be funny." Nell Scovell '82 takes it a little more seriously. "It's hard coming from The Crimson and watching colleagues like Nicholas Kristof win the Pulitzer Prize," she says. "Sometimes I feel like I'm wasting my Crimson education." Steve O'Donnell sees an advantage to having a Harvard education, especially when trying to write comedy that is intelligent. "It's like making houses," he says. "There are crappy ones and beautiful ones, mass-produced and custom." Other grads see an inherent contradiction in the notion of "Harvard comedy writers" working in mediums that must reach a very broad audience. "There is an irony in the elite writing for the masses," says Marx.

The Ivy League establishment certainly sees a discrepancy between yuks and their curriculum. Mark O'Donnell has been teaching a comedy writing class at Yale that was difficult to get approved because it wasn't a history or criticism of comedy. "It was as if they thought it was like giving credit for a toga party or something," he says.

In looking at the list of those who have given the Class Day (day before commencement) Ivy Orations (funny speeches), one sees a veritable comedy writing hall-of-fame. SNL legend Jim Downey gave it. As did "The Simpsons" Reiss. Andy Borowitz '80 gave the Ivy Oration. He went on to create "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" with his wife, Susan Stevenson Borowitz `81. (See sidebar).

outside the castle
Not all the established Harvard grads are 'poonsters. Al Franken '73 never made it in but is one of the most successful Harvard yuksters. Franken made a name for himself on SNL creating and performing Stuart Smalley. More recently he has turned to writing; his book "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" was a New York Times best seller. In his last book, "Why Not Me?," Franken makes ATM fees the center of his fictional campaign for president. Since the book, numerous congressmen have called to ask if he would be present at their press conferences announcing new legislation curbing ATM fees. He kindly declines them. "I can't understand how someone could read the book and actually think that I care about it," he says. "Irony is a form of humor that some people just don't get."

Sports writing also opens doors to the comedy writing world. "Sports is the one part of the paper that is trying to be clever," says Nell Scovell, who spent the majority of her Harvard career at The Crimson as a sportswriter. After Harvard track had placed second at one event, she wrote: "If a tie for first is like kissing your sister, then a tie for second is like frenching her." Scovell was the first staff writer hired at Spy magazine. She later got her start in Hollywood, ironically, through a Lampoon connection: her brother-in-law Rob LaZebnik '84.

Bill Scheft, another Crimson sports writer, got his job at Letterman in 1991 via a cigar. Sheft had been trying to get work with Letterman for some five years and was writing a cigar article for Esquire magazine and interviewed the gap-toothed funny man. Soon after, Sheft ran into the show's executive producer and jokingly said he was looking for work. Two weeks later he was hired. Dave had quite smoking at the time, but not long after Scheft's arrival, he was puffing the stogie again.

the death of irreverence and rebelliousness
Mere irreverence is pretty much dead just by virtue of its ubiquitousness. Oakley, for example, points to Time magazine as an unlikely and awkward outlet for laughs. Its "Winner and Loser" section is a prime example: "Fla. Judge Elian Gonzalez struggle fails to disclose possible conflict of interest. Aye Caramba!" Or better yet, "His Airness [Michael Jordan] may go to the front office. 'Sir, could you help with this light bulb?'" The ranks of Harvard funnymen have responded to their would-be one-uppers with a new brand of comedy, making fun of those people who would think something's funny. Wrote Jerry Adler in Newsweek on Oct. 11, 1993, "Harvard's contribution to television comedy is not just more, or even better, jokes. It is the creation of a whole new form of humor...humor about humor." "Beavis and Butthead" [which had a few Harvard writers] does not aspire to be anything so obvious as funny; instead, at its deepest level it invites the viewer to laugh at the sort of person who would find it funny."

But if irreverence is dead, rebelliousness has just plain been sold out. Today writing agencies appear periodically at the Castle on recruiting missions. "The whole idea of being rebellious has been hopelessly deluded," Oakley says, pointing to such companies as MTV which has tried to maintain a rebellious image while at the same time commercializing it. Steve O'Donnell agrees. "You watch MTV and you think it's rebellious, but then you go to their headquarters and it's like Time-Life in the '50s." He points out that everyone from HBO to Quaker Oats has someone advising them on what is current. But can't there be an offshoot of humor making fun of over-commercialization? "We tried to do that on the Simpsons, but people didn't get it. I think they've been brainwashed," says Oakley. Spy founder Andersen feels that to some extent commercialization has killed irreverence. "What is too edgy to get its own show on cable? Nothing, essentially."

Yet some find commercialization somewhat exciting rather than sterilizing. "I found it very subversive that a major studio, Columbia Pictures, owned by a major corporation, Sony, would make 'Idle Hands,' a story about a pot-head hero," says Flender. But yet Flender feels that it's hard to shock people anymore. He remembers in high school seeing the movie "Pink Flamingos." In the last scene a 300 lb. transvestite named Divine eats dog shit. "I don't know if that would shock today," he says. More shocking today for Flender are real life occurences, such as the school shootings that sabotaged his movie. But doesn't he feel responsibility for these killlings, as part of the accusedly violent entertainment industry? Says Flender, "Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon. Do we need to stop printing Catcher in the Rye? There are religious groups bombing abortion clinics. Should we ban the Bible?" With "Animal House" on the one hand and wry irony on the other, it is difficult to discern where grads will try to take comedy next. Either way, the place of the Harvard humorist remains unquestioned.

fast train/slow train?
Harvard may get its progeny to Hollywood, but the trip can be a slow one. Bill Oakley was on welfare for 26 weeks until it ran out. This was after he and his high school buddy Josh Weinstein moved out to Los Angeles looking for work, but didn't find any--at least not for an entire year. That's when they were picked up by "The Simpsons," headed at the time by Reiss and Jean. Rags to riches. Says Reiss, "It caught me completely by surprise." At his first Hollywood job, as a supplementary joke writer for "Airplane II," he saw his salary jump to $2.000 a week. All for jokes that weren't even necessarily going to be used. According to the writer's union, the minimum for a 1/2 hour script is just over $17,000.

Switch to the East Coast. Steve O'Donnell had to write greeting cards and guide tours at Paul Revere's House, before he finally got a freelance job at Bloomingdale's writing copy for pillowcases and sheets targeted at insomniacs. This linen had such phrases printed on it as "Try to remember the last five times you ate green peas" and "Recall the floorplan of a Kinney shoe store." Wow. Then he went on to "Letterman."

Certainly the culture of the Lampoon has changed to some extent. Some perspective Lampooners see the magazine as their catapult to Hollywood, which was not the case in the past. Twenty years ago almost no one joined thinking it would lead somewhere. According to Malis, the majority of his fellow 'poonsters wanted to go into entertainment. "We watched a lot of TV, read every magazine. We were completely on top of pop culture; we didn't know anything else," he says. "I watched 6 hours of TV a day; it was pathetic. I made time for 'Dawson's Creek.'" And rumor has it that Al Gore's daughter Kristen '98 is considering going into comedy writing.

But some still question whether the "pipeline" has tapered off in the nineties. "There are no concrete examples of a 'Lampoon mafia' now," says Oakley. "Show me more than five grads from the last five years." Oakley should know considering that he's the West Coast trustee of the Lampoon. And Reiss agrees with him. "I don't feel as many Harvard grads coming out anymore," says Reiss. "It's slowed to a trickle." He feels there are fewer jobs in comedy this year than in the past couple. The resurrgeance of the game shows has cut into comedy writing job opportunities says Jason Cahill, a Yale grad, proposing a possible hypothesis for Reiss' theory. This may be true. Game shows such as "21," "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" and "Greed" directly compete with sitcoms that share the same half-hour time slots. Dramas, such as "ER" and "Dawson's Creek," remain unaffected largely because of their hour-long format. But some say it is difficult to pinpoint any significant trends. While there may be "numerically less" comedies this season, they say that there are many more in development, ready to be launched in seasons to come.

Recent grads are optimistic about the opportunities available. Says James Eagen `99 of the Lampoon connection, "It's a pipeline to being jobless in Hollywood." He's kidding, of course. Though jobless, Eagen feels that a job will come along. After all, he's just a ninety-nine. Aaron Ehasz has a few years of experience that give him a little perspective. "Everyone who sticks with it seems to make it," he says. His first big job was with Oakley at Mission Hill. Manager Peter Saffron backs their statements. "If anything the [Harvard] opportunities are only increasing," he says. "Guys who were writing five years ago are running shows now." And as Mark O'Donnell points out, with some 50 channels containing comedy content there are lots more jobs in the industry. When he was coming out of Harvard in 1976 there were only the big three networks.

integrating laughs
Comedy has also changed in respects to the make-up of writing staffs. With so many Jewish (lots of Cohens) white males in the business, there is an effort to bring more females and minorities into the business. One show that has been able to do just that is the new claymation comedy "The PJ's." Eddie Murphy is the executive producer of the show and also does the voice of Thurgood Stubbs, the perenially pissed-off superintendent of the Hilton-Jacobs project. Goldstein estimates that 50 percent of "The PJ's" writers are black. "The Chris Rock Show" also has a high proportion of black writers. Steve O'Donnell, who consults for the show, describes himself as the "pinkest" guy writing for the show but emphasizes that it is not an issue, although he does get "razzed" if he uses a big word.

Asked about diversity in the comedy world, Andy Robin '90 (he wrote the famous "Seinfeld" "Junior Mints" episode) believes that good ideas reign supreme, regardless from where they come. Underlining ideas over race, Robins said "you get pretty diverse if you don't shower for a week." Some producers do strive for comic diversity, blending wry, plot-driven Lampoon humor with a more gritty, street-based humor. The Lampoon, however, remains a model for many. Chris Rock, in response to his perception of Lampoon dominance, donated substantial sums to Howard University, to get a college humor magazine started. A spin-off of Howard University's "Hilltop Journal," the student newspaper, the comedy publication is called the "Illtop Journal." As Steve O'Donnell told the Washington Post in 1998, Chris Rock "sensed a connection between this kind of pre-professional training ground and getting into this kind of network in Hollywood and New York." And apparently after having been told that her humor was too female and seeing too few women in the Harvard comedy scene, Beck Stringer '98 started The Harvard Tampoon in 1995.

Harvard admissions is pleased with the prominence of grads in comedy. "We get lots of questions about the Lampoon," says Director of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons '67, who adds that this occurs internationally as well. "It put Harvard on the map as a place for people who are interested in comedy." He also added that a presence in the entertainment business "humanizes Harvard; it helps to break down some of the stereotypes people have." Steve O'Donnell sees some irony in the idea of a "Harvard comedy writer" because of these stereotypes and the general population's perception of Harvard as being composed of "either snooty blue bloods or brainiacs building death rays for the Pentagon."

While it isn't exactly clear whether Harvard is a naturally funny place, it is clear that it strives to be. Be it punani or potty humor, the college has covered all of its bases with publications such as The Lampoon, The Tampoon, Satire V and Demon. In addition to the presence of improv comedy groups such as The Instant Gratification Players and On Thin Ice, there are occasional pranks, such as when the Lampoon convinced incoming freshman go to UHS with bags filled with samples of their own feces. Not everybody agrees, however. "Harvard is the least funny place I've ever been," semi-jokes Reiss. "I hated the College. I hated the education. The Harvard Lampoon was the only thing I liked at Harvard, and, except for my wife, the only good thing I got out of it." Other grads praise the magazine's contribution to their sense of humor. "The Lampoon confirmed my suspicion that being funny was the most important thing in the world...I was always the person who sat in the back of the room and made fun of the teacher," says Marx. Comedy "is not like being taught to operate heavy machinery or something," said James Downey in 1987. "It can't be taught--it can only be refined."
Mark O'Donnell's high school teacher once told him, "Don't go to Harvard. It'll ruin your sense of humor." Who knew?

Zachary R. Heineman '03, shovels shit in the coal mines. Occasionally, he indulges in Indo-french pastries, which remind him of Armenia, curiously enough. He drives a 1987 Toyota Cressida and would like to give a shout out to the not-so-freshmeat.

Eliot I. Hodges '02 last year invented the podge, which has become indispensible as a means to connect otherwise disjointed items. He plans to market it nation-wide through HSA, and eventually put forward his IPO. Let's give that boy a hand!

Copyright 2000 The Harvard Crimson, Inc.
Questions? E-mail online@thecrimson.com .