The Lampoon's office is a castle settled between two streets in Cambridge. The castle is an architectural oddity, made with a hodgepodge of materials deriving from all parts of the globe. Its furniture was built inside and is too large to be removed. Its tables are so large that people dance atop them at Lampoon parties. On top of the castle, there is a metal ibis.

The Lampoon has an ongoing rivalry with the Harvard Crimson, Harvard's daily newspaper. (That rivalry is the reason the furniture is unremovable and the ibis is now welded down.) At the height of the cold war, the Crimson stole the ibis and gave it to the Soviet Union's Ambassador to the United States as a "gift from the students of America." The Lampoon was forced to make several calls to the State Department before an unhappy diplomat was sent to the Soviets to ask for its return.

For its part, the Lampoon once erected barbed wire around its perimeter and announced that it had seceded from the United States and would no longer pay taxes or abide by its laws. Again the State Department was involved when a representative was sent to inform the Lampoon that it would not, in fact, be allowed to secede.

The Lampoon funds its activities largely through royalties from National Lampoon movies and donations from alumni.

The Harvard Lampoon claims to be the world's oldest humor magazine (actually the United States' oldest), founded in 1876 by seven undergraduates at Harvard University. Originally modeled on the British humor magazine Punch, the Lampoon sought to provide the college with jokes, cartoons, and poems. It quickly became popular on campus, and later gained national attention for parodies of such rags as Playboy, The New Yorker, Mademoiselle, and of such volumes as J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Current staples of Lampoon humor include the university's daily newspaper The Harvard Crimson, and homosexuals. The Lampoon's magazine (published around four times a year, or whenever they feel like it) is no longer so popular on campus, although their parties (open only to members and senior guests) are near legendary.

The Lampoon is divided into three departments: art, literature, and business. The art and literature departments produce the cartoons and gags for their occasionally published magazine, while the business department sells ads and begs alumni for money. As in many other extracurricular activities at Harvard, the process of joining the Lampoon is known as a "comp". Compers for the art and literature departments must go through three cuts over the course of a semester, writing or drawing many pieces for perusal and scornful dismissal by the current members, and it is rumoured that business compers must raise ten thousand dollars.

The Lampoon Castle was designed by Edmund March Wheelwright in 1909 and paid for and furnished by William Randolph Hearst (former editor) and Isabella Stuart Gardiner. The large triangular building boasts a clownish face on the rounded apex of the triangle, and it has the only Sorrento Square address in all of Cambridge (in addition to its three other addresses). Entrance to the upper realms of the castle is forbidden to all but members and their guests.

Many famous people and wonderful writers have graduated from Harvard despite being members of the Lampoon, including the above-mentioned Mr. Hearst, Fred Gwynn, Owen Wister, George Santayana, John Updike, and Conan O'Brien. The National Lampoon was started by Lampoon graduates, and many gags for The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live are penned by other members of this humor magazine.



Some information extracted from the Harvard Lampoon website, http://www.harvardlampoon.com/

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