The Movie & A Martini screening of “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon” played to a full house at the Avon Theatre in Stamford recently, but we piggy-backed on one of the popular Documentary Nights at the nonprofit venue.
Director Doug Tirola and producer Susan Bedusa had a lot of Westport neighbors and family members in the house for their acclaimed look at the creation of the highly influential humor magazine in the early 1970s, and its strong influence on “Saturday Night Live” and other comedy films and TV shows that followed in its footsteps.
The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last winter and had a theatrical run in the fall. Tirola and Bedusa both said they were happy to have this “hometown” screening of the movie just as the film was debuting on most of the major streaming services.
Yours truly moderated a discussion with the filmmakers after the show and didn’t have a chance to catch all of the names of the audience members who praised the documentary and a few who found the 1970s humor to be off-putting 40 years later.
Movie & A Martini regular Ken Staffey, of Bridgeport, told me after the Q&A, “What stood out for me is how politically correct we have become since the Lampoon’s heyday. I don’t know if they could publish plenty of the stuff they did now. And I’m not sure that that’s an entirely bad thing.
“It was fascinating to see how many of our comedic stars came from the Lampoon and how its movies inspired a whole new type of comedy that continues today with Judd Apatow’s work and others.”
Associate producer Danielle Rosen, who joined Tirola and Bedusa for the Q&A, said before she went to work on the project she didn’t know about the popular and influential magazine that preceded such hit films as “National Lampoon’s Animal House.”
“We had interns on the film who didn’t really know about John Belushi,” Bedusa added of the “SNL” performer who got one of his first big breaks working on the Lampoon stage show, “Lemmings.”
The movie includes interviews with many of the writers on the magazine’s staff, as well as those who worked on the subsequent film and TV offshoots, including Chevy Chase and director John Landis, whose career took off with the release of “Animal House” in 1978.
Next Movie & A Martini: Joe Meyers at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, at the Avon Theatre, 272 Bedford St., Stamford. Visit facebook.com/martinimovie. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.