I’ve been Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead-ing for eight and a half months now, or since I fell for this snappy, punchy-assed doc at last January’s Sundance Film Festival. I’ve raved and raved (“Quite the cultural landmark…about something that nearly everyone understands or identifies with to some degree, which is the seed and birth of anarchic, counter-conventional, ultra-outlandish comedy, which everybody takes for granted today but was a whole new thing when it popped out of the National Lampoon in 1970″). I’ve expressed surprise that it took six long months to cut a deal for theatrical release. I sought out and interviewed columnist, author and former National Lampoon editor P.J. O’Rourke. I’ve noted the film’s popularity at film festivals over the first seven months of this year, etc. I’ve riffed on it every which way.
Doug Tirola, director of Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, at Andaz Hotel last Wednesday afternoon.
So when I was offered a chance to speak with director Doug Tirola a few days ago, I responded “but of course!” I was an hour late. (Sorry.) We met in a conference room at the Andaz in West Hollywood (i.e., the former “Riot House.”) . We batted the ball around but I was feeling a little sloppy in the brain. The vibe was easy and relaxed but something wasn’t quite clicking. Amiable ping-pong for the most part.
Then I struck a vein. I noted that with the film in circulation now would be an excellent time to make available all those years of National Lampoon issues (’70 to ’80) online. Tirola nodded, grinned. And then he half-shrugged. “So why isn’t it?,” I asked. “What’s the hold-up?” He answered that the National Lampoon operation is now headed by CEO Jerry Daigle and president Alan Donnes and that they had mainly managed to calm things down and put out fires. Whatever that means. I know that despite knowing for at least a couple of years that Tirola’s doc would almost certainly be hitting theatres sometime in’15, these guys haven’t been able to get it together enough to offer online sales of back issues.
Tirola was obliging and considerate in describing their situation, but Daigle and Donnes are obviously lacking in chutzpah or some other necessary ingredient. I don’t know the particulars but National Lampoon is still a legendary brand of sorts (despite the tarnishings of the last 30 years) and everyone who was around in the ’70s and ’80s heyday loved the magazine, and I for one would pay through the nose to read those old issues again. And yet Daigle and Donnes can’t manage to allow people like me to pay money to do this for old times’ sake. What does that tell you? That they’re enterprising?
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead opened yesterday at West L.A.’s Nuart.