The National Lampoon ‘Poison Pill’ Is Another Cynical NFT Ploy

Michael O’Donoghue is rolling in his black-comedy grave
The National Lampoon ‘Poison Pill’ Is Another Cynical NFT Ploy

Crypto guys have purchased the National Lampoon. Which, who knows, could be kinda cool? Except the early rumblings look sketchy. We’re pretty sure Michael O’Donoghue would have slugged anyone who uttered a phrase like, “We will be leveraging blockchain technology to usher in a new era of comedic relief.”

The new Lampoon’s “Poison Pill” mints today, an NFT that promises an “exclusive membership to all things comedy.” For aspiring comedy creators, that means a chance to “contribute to media production.” For fans, that’s access to Lampoon media content, past, present and future. And your very own Poison Pill can be purchased for the low, low price of 0.20 ETH. (That comes to a cool $323.66 in real-people money, depending on which way the market is trending when you read this.)

Well, that sounds like a lousy deal all the way around. If we’re parsing its white paper correctly, a Poison Pill would allow aspiring Web3 comics to pitch jokes and content ideas, perhaps even to take part in National Lampoon productions. It’s a unique proposition, for sure — content creators pay hundreds for the chance to audition their material for future use. 

NLStudios_eth Twitter

As for Lampoon fans? The initial offering includes goodies like “select content from the National Lampoon vault” such as National Lampoon Radio Hour episodes and John Hughes short stories. Those are indeed comedy classics, but they’ve been freely available online for years. Heck, you can grab the entire box set of Radio Hour episodes on eBay for about $40.

To be fair, the real promise — in theory — is the future content. But as any fan who has followed the National Lampoon through its various reboots and rebirths knows, the name brand alone doesn’t guarantee quality. 

So what’s coming, mostly sight unseen? A digital magazine, for one. For a hint of what that might look like, there’s an Elon Musk memo parody posted on Medium that’s funny enough, but nothing you can’t find in your average Twitter feed. Then there’s an unscripted talk show featuring an alphabet soup of crypto-speak, including host NFT42 CEO and Web3 OG J1mmy.eth speaking to Web3 personalities like the YUGA Labs founders “and many others.” Sounds… hilarious? Finally, there’s Comedy Factory, a sketch show that’s a “literal incubator for creators and comedy minds, pulled right from our community.” In other words, it’s comedy that you need to pay $323 to help create. 

Truth is, it’s hard to tell what the heck the new Lampoon is trying to be. On the one hand, it claims that “no one is making edgy comedy anymore” so the Poison Pill project wants to provide an alternative to the “cancel culture that exists in Web2 and traditional media.” On the other hand, its white paper is littered with nostalgic images of Chevy Chase and Randy Quaid, hardly comics at the forefront of the next wave of laughs. Trading on 1970s and 1980s nostalgia while promising “fresh content, raw and unfiltered by the limits of modern-day culture”? That’s a tricky needle to thread. (And for a venture that hasn’t made jokes in public yet, there sure is a lot of griping about cancel culture. The new Lampoon crew definitely has something to say that it believes isn’t allowed on the regular Internetz. Hmmm…)

Well, good luck, National Lampoon. And if any of you have a few extra hundred laying around, pop a Poison Pill and let us know how they’re doing. 

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