'Futile Gesture,' a Serious Bio of Funnyman Kenney Josh Karp's biography A Futile and Stupid Gesture chronicles the life, comedy and untimely death of National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney. The title comes from a line Kenney penned for the screenplay of the film Animal House.

'Futile Gesture,' a Serious Bio of Funnyman Kenney

'Futile Gesture,' a Serious Bio of Funnyman Kenney

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Josh Karp takes a thoughtful look at Doug Kenney's life and work. Johnny Knight hide caption

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Johnny Knight

Josh Karp takes a thoughtful look at Doug Kenney's life and work.

Johnny Knight

Doug Kenney was rarely photographed. He's shown here at the 1978 premiere of 'Animal House.' Pedar Ness hide caption

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Pedar Ness

Doug Kenney was rarely photographed. He's shown here at the 1978 premiere of 'Animal House.'

Pedar Ness

The comic talent behind National Lampoon magazine and the long-lived comic romps Caddyshack and Animal House lived a wild life... and a short one. Doug Kenney died in August 1980 after a fall from a cliff in Hawaii. He was just 33.

Kenney wrote much of the material that helped the likes of John Belushi, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase achieve early comic fame.

Josh Karp chronicles Kenney's role in co-founding National Lampoon, a publication that served as a catalyst for a new wave of American comedy -- one Karp credits for influencing offerings from The Daily Show and The Onion to The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live.

The book A Futile and Stupid Gesture follows Kenney from a childhood lived in the shadow of an older brother to success at Harvard and beyond. (The title comes from the pivotal moment in Animal House when the Delta frat boys decide to sabotage Faber College's homecoming parade.)

A Futile and Stupid Gesture
How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever
By Josh Karp

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A Futile and Stupid Gesture
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