I should have learned my lesson. I read a biography last year about Charles Schulz. I learned how sad he was, and how all that misery turned into joy when he put it in thousands of newspapers every day and called it "Peanuts." Then I read a biography about Kurt Vonnegut Jr. It turns out that he was a very unhappy man who turned to writing science fiction as an escape from his mundane and pained existence. These heroes of mine that had given me hours of happiness in my youth were miserable old men who used their art to seek out acceptance they weren't finding in their own lives.
Why then, do you suppose I would take on a volume about the rise and inevitable fall of the witty young men and women who brought me all those laughs in the pages of National Lampoon? I had already read a number of behind-the-scenes accounts of Saturday Night Live, the place where humor had gone to die on television. John Belushi. Gilda Radner. Chevy Chase. I knew how those stories ended already, and they were the "successes" in the Lampoon canon. Of course, so was P.J. O'Rourke.
So many of the voices, both in print an on record, that made me laugh as a teenager are now gone. The aforementioned Belushi and Radner. Then there was Michael O'Donoghue, Mister Mike's least loved bedtime stories. And Doug Kenney, who walked off a cliff in Hawaii. John Hughes, staff writer and creator of the "Vacation" series as well as a bunch of movies about teenagers succumbed to all that teen angst in 2009. Original managing editor, Robert K. Hoffman, has shuffled of this mortal coil. The magazine itself has ceased to be. They don't even have a website of their own anymore. But they do show up on Twitter.
I guess it's what they say: "Death is easy, Twitter is hard."