Why Was Katy Perry at the Harvard Lampoon?

Human cupcake Katy Perry hung out at the Harvard Lampoon castle on Saturday night:

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UPDATE: Leverett T-Shirts Probably Came From Harvard Lampoon

Hey, remember those T-shirts making fun of Sept. 11 by comparing the Twin Towers to Leverett’s towers? Well, the Harvard Voice, which published an image of the t-shirt, at right, indicates they originated at the Harvard Lampoon. Which has, we guess, gone from making hit movies and spawning comedy legends to, um, silk-screening t-shirts.

Congratulations, Lampoon! You got the campus talking about you again! All it took was a tasteless prank that was foiled really quickly!

Every Late-Night Host a Mere Pawn in Harvard Publications Feud

cuar01_conan0708Okay, the three of you who watch late-night network TV on the regular: Vanity Fair has released a scintillating, way-insidery take on the Conan O’Brien sturm und drang: apparently, NBC head Jeff Zucker H’86, former Crimson president, is taking revenge on former Lampoon president O’Brien, H’85:

It’s a prank that included uprooting Conan and his staff from New York to Los Angeles, spending hundreds of millions of G.E. and Universal shareholders’ dollars, all just to yank the rug out from under O’Brien. Was it really worth the effort?   Yes, when you remember that Conan started it.

Turns out, NBC never wanted Conan at all! And Crimson editors are able to turn their aggression towards outsiders, not just each other.

The post unfolds like an online-only version of Pale Fire (with Carson Daly playing the role of Zembla), as the “editor,” a Lampoon alum, cuts chunks of Ben Schwartz’s prose and asks “What about the lobster incident?” Well. The Cheerful Money bit has been done to death, but the theory maybe holds up—that this whole fracas is just one in a series of escalating pranks. Hey, remember the prank war Gob and the seal dealer had on Arrested Development? Well, it ends with middlebrow lisping on NBC at 11:35.

More theorizing after the jump.

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Book Club Interview: Simon Rich

IvyGate recently ran a review of Simon Rich’s “Free-Range Chickens” for its inaugural meeting of the “IvyGate Book Club.” In case you didn’t catch the review, here’s a quick bio of our man Rich: Harvard ’07 alum and former Editor-in-Chief of the Lampoon, Rich has written two critically acclaimed collections of humor stories and is a staff writer at “Saturday Night Live.” His father is Frank Rich, a guy who writes columns for the New York Times. Simon lives in Brooklyn Heights, where I met him at a restaurant for this interview.

And so it goes:

Simon Rich arrives. I’m already seated and I wave him over. Rich looks like a 16-year-old. But he’s affable and confident. On the other hand, I’m nervous because Rich is around my age and achieving everything I want to be achieving. Amy Poehler is his co-worker. Amy Poehler is my dream girl. You get the picture.

Rich wants to change our seat because it’s the Mets’ last chance to make the playoffs and he can’t see the TV. For the first twenty minutes of our interview, Rich’s attention is divided between me and the Mets. Rich orders an iced coffee. I order a Diet Coke.

Why did you choose Harvard?

Because of the Lampoon. I always wanted to write for the Lampoon. Because I heard if you write for the Lampoon you could write for the Simpsons. And the Simpsons was sort of the center of my whole world.

I noticed a lot of people liked the Simpsons until around 7 years ago.

I still like it. It’s probably the single most important–not just the most important TV show but probably the most important thing in my whole life. It taught me not only most of what I know about jokes but also about the world in general.

After the jump, Rich discusses Harvard’s dating life, vampires, and being Frank Rich’s son. Read the rest of this entry »

IvyGate Book Club: “Free-Range Chickens” by Simon Rich

I know what you’re thinking: “IvyGate book club? That’s a great idea! I’ve always wanted to read book reviews written by IvyGate editors.” Well, now you can. In what might be a recurring feature, IvyGate will review books by authors with Ivy ties. But that’s not all. Ivygate wants you (yes, you!) to discuss the merits of the selected book in the comments. It’s like we’re all talking about this book together, in some type of….book club.

First up is “Free-Range Chickens” by Simon Rich. I first heard of Simon Rich when a girl I was hooking up with sent me a link to one of his New Yorker “Shouts and Murmurs” pieces. I was really impressed, and told her so. She said, “Yeah, I can’t believe someone our age is writing humor pieces for The New Yorker.” I agreed this was unusual. “I’m sure the fact that his father is Frank Rich helped him get published,” she said. I wasn’t sure who Frank Rich was but pretended I knew about him.

One and a half years later, I’m a reader of Frank Rich’s New York Times columns and have been keeping up with his son’s stories and sketches. In this same time, Simon, Harvard ’07, went from being the editor of the Harvard Lampoon to writing a commercially successful, critically popular collection of humor stories, Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations. He’s also a staff writer at “Saturday Night Live.”

Did being Frank Rich’s son help him get to this ridiculously enviable position? Yeah. Definitely. For sure. Is Simon talented in his own right? Yeah, he’s talented in his own right.

There aren’t many writers that cause me to laugh out loud. This is perhaps a function of my not reading enough. That being said, Simon Rich joins a short list of those who can get me to smile and even chuckle on the subway.

After the jump, I review “Free-Range Chickens.” Read the rest of this entry »

Simon Rich Killing You Softly With His Book

Simon Rich Killing You Softly With His BookAh, the smell of hot ink on carbon! The whiff of glue, fusing together page after page of freshly minted words, sheared even and sheathed in cloth for posterity. Yes folks, it’s another book deal — only this time, the hilarity, we hope, is intentional.

This round’s contestant: Simon Rich, Harvard ’06, Lampoon ex-prez, fruit of Frank’s loins, blockmate of Nick McDonell ’06, and all-round exuder of precociousness. “Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations,” due out in April, collects 57 writings from his ‘Poon days and since (he’s taking time off). Galleys are apparently flying around, but we haven’t netted one yet, so consider judgment suspended.

What we do know (beyond the Crimson’s initial report last year) is what this goofy piece from the Virginian-Pilot tells us: that one of the book’s fictional stories features an 11-year-old boy and his profligate mother, who is busy boinking her way through a local minor-league hockey team, the Norfolk Admirals. The kicker, though, is that the five players she brings home, one by one — Marty Wilford, Jason Morgan, Igor Radulov, Michal Barinka and Steve Passmore — are actual former players for the Admirals.

According to the piece, the players seem more baffled than angry:

He has never been in a situation such as that described in the story, Wilford said, but is “not really” bothered by the use of his name.

Admirals general manager Al MacIsaac had much the same reaction: He found the story odd, he said, but not upsetting “because it’s fiction.”

That’s evident to anyone who knew the players involved, MacIsaac said , explaining: “Marty Wilford and Jason Morgan wouldn’t have been sleeping with the same type of woman.”

The publisher claims the names of the players and the team will be changed in the final version. Frankly, we’re disappointed. Casting fiction as fact carries all sorts of ethical baggage — hey Jimbo! — but absorbing fact into fiction? Fair game! Well, maybe not legally. But something about a random hockey player going down in Google Book Search history as the guy who slept with some kid’s mom is, by our lights, comedy gold.

Lampoon Preys On Mass Gullibility … Again

<em>Lampoon</em> Preys On Mass Gullibility ... AgainPranks! Do they ever get old?

Yes, yes they do. The latest comes to you c/o the Harvard Lampoon, the group of castle-ridden humorists who seem to hit comedy gold whenever they’re not publishing their regular magazine. Like the time they sent out a fake e-mail from University Health Services asking Harvard freshmen to bring in stool samples. Or their parody issue of the short-lived literary erotica journal H-Bomb (tremendous detail: a photo of a dildo with “Borges” scrawled on it in Sharpie).

This time Harvard students were treated to the following e-mail:

From: Presidential Search Committee <psearch@harvard.edu>
Date: Feb 3, 2007 6:20 PM
Subject: Announcement from the Presidential Search Committee
To: undisclosed-recipients

February 2007

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

On behalf of Harvard’s governing boards, we write to inform you that a
decision has been reached regarding Harvard’s next president. The search
for Harvard’s next president has been a long and arduous process.
Students, faculty, and alumni alike have dedicated countless hours
throughout these past seven months. Special thanks are in order to the
undergraduate student advisory committee: Whitney S. F. Baxter ’07,
Katherine A. Beck ’08, and Vivek G. Ramaswamy ’07.

We are pleased to announce the reinstatement of Lawrence H. Summers as
Harvard’s once and future president. We understand that the decision may
come as a surprise to those that have been following the selection
process. After reviewing the candidates, however, we have come to the
conclusion that Dr. Summers is best suited to lead Harvard, particularly
in our plans for Allston and beyond.

To address concerns regarding Dr. Summers’ previous tenure, we will be
hosting an open forum discussion with Dr. Summers to be held in Sanders
Theater on February 5, at 5:00 P.M. Three hundred seats will be
available for undergraduate students, to be distributed by an open
lottery. To enter the lottery, please call the Presidential Search
Committee at (617) [re]-[dacted], and leave your name and e-mail address. The
deadline to enter is tonight, February 3, at midnight.

Again, thank you for your patience and support throughout this process.

Sincerely,

The Presidential Search Committee

The phone number provided was, in some of the e-mails, that of the Harvard Crimson‘s newsroom. In others, it was the cell number of former Crimson President Will Marra. (The poor guy was also the butt of a similar Lampoon joke last year, when they informed all freshmen they’d been given a raw deal in the housing lottery and told them to call Marra to apply for reassignment.) Apparently the Crimson‘s phones were ringing off the hooks on Saturday. Which raises the question: Are people really that dumb? If part one of the prank was weak, part two was just a letdown. A second e-mail followed:

From: Office of the Dean of Harvard College <gross@fas.harvard.edu>
Date: Feb 3, 2007 7:10 PM
Subject: Please Read
To: undisclosed-recipients

Dear Students, 

Please disregard the earlier e-mail labeled “Announcement from the Presidential Search Committee.”  The e-mail was a hoax.  We are currently looking into the source of this misinformation.

Given the substantial confusion caused by the incident, we feel compelled to make the actual announcement one day early.  Former Dean of Harvard Law School, Elena Kagan, has been selected as the 28 th President of Harvard University.  An official press release will be issued in the upcoming hours, as well as a more formal introduction.

Getting 50 people to call the Crimson and Will Marra is funny, in a “we thought this up in 20 minutes, aren’t we incorrigible” way. But a second e-mail, planned in advance, kind of signals Big Lampoon Prank, and if there’s a soul who didn’t see through it, well, maybe you can blame it on thesis stress. Please, Lampoon: tell us there’s a part three waiting to be unfurled. You can do better than this … right?

Lampoon to Commoners: You’ve Been Punch’d! (UPDATE)

Lampoon to Commoners: You've Been Punch'd! (UPDATE)Harvard’s punch season — that painful, joyous, farcical orgy of social climbing — is upon us. In the coming weeks, dozens of male sophomores will receive invitations to attend the “punch” rituals of the university’s storied final clubs. (If you don’t know or care about punch season at Harvard, don’t fret: A handy guide is in the works. Caring is up to you.)

Thanks to the merry pranksters at the Lampoon, this year’s season is already a joke. In an opening salvo, the Lampoon delivered fake punch invitations from the Porcellian (PC to you, chap) to various sophomore guys just as the PC released its real invitations. Confusion turned to glee and back to confusion as kids who neither went to Exeter nor gestated in a Rockefeller womb thought they had been invited to schmooze with the gentlemen (no girls allowed) of Harvard’s most exclusive final club, only to discover they’d been had. Take that, commonfolk!

Expect cryptic envelopes from the other seven clubs to start sliding under select doors within a week or so.

Bonus: We hear Sarah Silverman is coming to play softball with the Lampoon. We’ll enjoy watching the players run the bases while trying to hide their boners.

UPDATE 2:45 p.m.: We’re hearing some amazing rumors that the Lampoon wasn’t behind the fake punching — the more likely culprit is an independent troublemaker trying to cover his tracks. A prank prank! God, you people take this stuff seriously. The Lampoon apparently pulled a similar joke a few years ago, sending counterfeit Hasty Pudding invitations to the homeliest members of the freshman class (the Pudding is known for having the most attractive members); does the Lampoon ever repeat its pranks? Well, count us among the snowed. Mazel tov, whoever you are!

UPDATE No. 2, 5:01 p.m.: The Lampoon writes: “Yeah, we had nothing to do with the PC prank. This year we decided to send fake invites for the Fly club, not the PC, so basically what I’m saying is I’m very sorry to all the sophomores who’ve been punched by the Fly, but your invites are fake.” Hold on. Something’s off. We’re pretty sure the Lampoon is pranking us by claiming they pranked the Fly, to further confuse everyone about the rogue prankster’s prank prank and gaaaaaaaaahhh!! We’re not cut out for this shit!