National Lampoon bringing new sketch show to L.A.

Matty Simmons, a founder of National Lampoon, has created a new stage show that will present some of the company's favorite comedy sketches.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

National Lampoon, one of the most recognizable names in comedy, but one that has seen its brand image suffer in recent years, is getting back into the stage business with a brand new production -- “Sketches from the National Lampoon” at the Hayworth Theatre starting Feb. 15.

Judging from the description provided by the company, “Sketches” will capitalize on public nostalgia for National Lampoon’s heyday. The show consists of a series of favorite sketches, monologues and musical numbers from the company vault.

The show is conceived and produced by National Lampoon founder Matty Simmons, who produced two of the company’s biggest moneymakers -- the movies “Animal House” in 1978 and “Vacation,” starring Chevy Chase, in 1983.

The new show will apparently offer some original material in the form of songs penned by Richard Levinson. The production is being directed by Pat Towne.

National Lampoon, which is based in West Hollywood, made headlines in 2011 when Chief Executive Timothy Durham was arrested for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme through a separate business entity. He was found guilty in November and sentenced to 50 years in prison.


Durham’s predecessor, Dan Laikin, was arrested in 2008 for stock price manipulation. He was sentenced to nearly four years in jail.

National Lampoon is now headed by Jerry Daigle, as CEO, and Alan Donnes, as president. The company has gone years without seeing a hit movie, the last one being “Van Wilder” in 2002. Its iconic magazine ceased publication in 1998.

“Sketches” is scheduled to have a limited run at the Hayworth through March 17.


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