Legendary Comedy Brand has chosen its tone and direction, and looking right at New York’s alt scene for both. This week Forever Dog, which now owns the National Lampoon Brand announced that they’ve signed two bright young stars out of New York City’s burgeoning alt scene to lead the way. Writer/Actor/Comedian Cole Escola was named Head Writer, Producer and Performer; Comedian Jo Firestone has been hired as Senior Writer, Producer and Performer. Both are relative unknowns to the average American, but they’re both beloved and respected by those who know comedy, and really interesting choices to take Lampoon in a bold new direction that could be big for 2019. Escola and Firestone will work alongside an ensemble of fellow comedic talent, to be announced shortly.
The podcast revives the sketch comedy classic National Lampoon Radio Hour – which launched the careers of comedy icons Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, John Belushi and Gilda Radner.
National Lampoon President Evan Shapiro, and Forever Dog co-founders and Radio Hour producers Joe Cilio, Alex Ramsey and Brett Boham made today’s announcement. In addition to the Radio Hour revival, the two companies’ partnership encompasses the development of Forever Dog podcasts for television and streaming platforms.
In 1973, National Lampoon assembled the best comedic performers in the country to launch the National Lampoon Radio Hour, a weekly, nationally syndicated sketch comedy radio show that featured John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Christopher Guest, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray, Anne Beatts and Richard Belzer.
Today, in partnership with Forever Dog, National Lampoon is going back to its roots, re-launching Radio Hour as a half-hour podcast. The new show will further National Lampoon’s tradition of subversion through comedy, while also updating the format and overall approach to sketch – led by a young, diverse cast of comedians.
“The National Lampoon brand was built on the grass roots discovery of fresh and innovative comedic voices,” said Shapiro. “Our commitment to this legacy is bolstered by our partnership with Forever Dog – which works with the smartest, most irreverent and offbeat comedians on the planet. Cole is at the vanguard of sketch, personifying the twisted, witty and subversive voice that National Lampoon has always aspired to. I can’t think of anyone more suited to helm the new iteration of Radio Hour. Meanwhile, Jo’s comedy is a perfect parody and expression of millennial rage and neurosis that simply makes her a must-have for any current ‘zeitgeisty’ sketch show.”
Said Cilio, Ramsey and Boham, “Our approach to comedy has always involved two essential creative steps – team with painfully funny and original people, and offer them the best possible platform to share their singular comedic voices with the world. As two exceptionally hilarious comedians who are blazing their own unique and impressive trails, we couldn’t be happier to welcome Cole and Jo aboard, and look forward to building the newRadio Hour with them, Evan and the National Lampoon team.”
Added Escola, “I’m excited. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I can guarantee that I’m going to be involved.”
Known for his comedic work across TV, digital, audio and stage performances, Escola’s previous credits include Hulu’s Difficult People, Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle, Netflix’s Girlboss, Logo’s Jeffrey & Cole Casserole and Tru’s At Home with Amy Sedaris.
A longtime writer and recurring performer on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Firestone is also known for her recent appearances on Hulu’s Shrill and TBS’s Search Party, as well as on HBO’s High Maintenance and Joe Pera Talks with You for Adult Swim.