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When we were clueless, the dark days of cruel comedy

Today’s Cancel Culture would blow a fuse trying to erase the careers of anyone involved in these 1970s sketches by the famed National Lampoon comedy troupe. Nat Lamp aired a syndicated weekly radio show in the 70s. Many of their most popular segments were later sold on albums.

Here’s one that would never see the light of day in this enlightened world.

In the recording posted above, John Belushi interviews the very gay Charles Bronson (Christopher Guest), Clint Eastwood (Chevy Chase), and Lee Marvin (Steven Collins).

Heads would explode in 2020 if comedians released this stinging mockery of LGBTQ people. But in the 1970s, being gay earned derision at the very least and violence at the very worst.

In a separate sketch, Guest plays Mister Rogers and Brian Doyle Murray plays the role of a neighbor, a police sergeant who suspects that Rogers is a pedophile so he beats the genteel TV host.

And that’s the end of the comedy sketch. The gay guy is beaten to a pulp.

I remember playing the Mister Rogers parody featuring Bill Murray as the loopy bass player but no program director that I worked for would have allowed the airing of that gay bashing sketch.

Terry Meiners, Ron Clay (Courier Journal, 1985)

Nonetheless, Ron Clay and I aired a series of parodies called Fagnet, a mockery of the cop show Dragnet but with all gay police officers.

We took very little heat for that in 1983, but we evolved on the issue right along with the rest of the culture. I am horrified that we were so clueless to the pain it caused 40 years ago.

The world has gotten a lot healthier since those cruel days.

dad. husband. observer. media personality. pathological flyer.