Before there was “Saturday Night Live,” the legendary sketch show that upended television comedy, there was the National Lampoon Radio Hour. The radio show is credited with launching the careers of John Belushi, Bill Murray, Christopher Guest, Gilda Radner, and Chevy Chase, key members of the early casts of the late night program.
Now, some four decades later, the National Lampoon Radio Hour is being relaunched as a podcast and the upcoming program has locked in its first cast members and behind the scenes talent. Cole Escola, best known for his work on “At Home with Amy Sedaris” and “Search Party,” will appear on the program and will serves as the weekly sketch show’s head writer. Comedian Jo Firestone, who has appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and “Shrill,” will preform on the show, along with serving as senior writer. Both will be producers. Other members of the ensemble cast will be announced shortly.
In 2017, PalmStar shelled out $12 million for the rights to the National Lampoon brand and its comedy library. Earlier this year, Evan Shapiro, formerly of IFC and Participant, was brought in to serve as president of National Lampoon, with an eye towards reviving the brand. As part of that effort, the company partnered with alt-comedy podcast network Forever Dog. In addition to the Radio Hour revival, the two companies are looking to turn Forever Dog podcasts into television and streaming programming.
Radio Hour will be a half-hour podcast, and the company says the podcast will “further National Lampoon’s tradition of subversion through comedy, while also updating the format and overall approach to sketch – led by a young, diverse cast of comedians.”
The show’s other producers include Forever Dog co-founders Joe Cilio, Alex Ramsey and Brett Boham.
“The National Lampoon brand was built on the grass roots discovery of fresh and innovative comedic voices,” said Shapiro in a statement. “Our commitment to this legacy is bolstered by our partnership with Forever Dog – which works with the smartest, most irreverent and offbeat comedians on the planet. Cole is at the vanguard of sketch, personifying the twisted, witty and subversive voice that National Lampoon has always aspired to. I can’t think of anyone more suited to helm the new iteration of Radio Hour. Meanwhile, Jo’s comedy is a perfect parody and expression of millennial rage and neurosis that simply makes her a must-have for any current ‘zeitgeisty’ sketch show.”