The comedy collective the National Lampoon has announced a reboot to its 1973 Off Broadway musical “Lemmings,” which spoofed the Woodstock festival and helped kick-start the careers of several “Saturday Night Live” cast members, including John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Christopher Guest.
The new production, titled “Lemmings: 21st Century,” will have a two-night exclusive engagement at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan on March 14 and 15.
While the original show centered on the fictional Woodshuck festival — offering “three days of peace, love and death” — “21st Century” tackles modern festival culture through Downfall, a parody mash-up of corporatized events like Coachella and Bonnaroo.
Downfall is backed by Drexcorp, a fictional humanitarian organization and pharmaceutical corporation that tries to ensure that festivalgoers are having a great time, but are also buying more pharmaceuticals, Evan Shapiro, the president of National Lampoon, said in an interview.
The show speaks to young festivalgoers who may not be familiar with the original “Lemmings,” Shapiro said. “It satirizes the idea that no one can have a good time at a rock concert without watching it through their iPhone,” or, he added, “how we all kind of just get on a line when it forms and we’re not even sure what we’re in line for.”
“21st Century” also targets pop culture by “lovingly satirizing” stars like Lizzo, Coldplay and Lana Del Ray — basically, anyone who has performed at Coachella, Shapiro said.
National Lampoon is producing the show in honor of the company’s 50th anniversary. It is also hosting live performances of the newly created “National Lampoon Radio Hour: The Podcast” at the South by Southwest comedy festival on March 15 and 16.
National Lampoon magazine was first published in 1970 as a spinoff of the Harvard Lampoon. The brand later expanded and produced comedies like “Animal House” and “Vacation,” as well as a weekly radio show. The magazine went out of print in 1998.