Mr. Mike: The Life and Work of Michael O'Donoghue

Dennis Perrin, Author
Dennis Perrin, Author Avon Books $25 (429p) ISBN 978-0-380-97330-9
Reviewed on: 12/01/1970
Release date: 12/01/1961
Angry comic genius Michael O'Donoghue (1940-1994) indelibly shaped National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live in their heydays. This ""primer"" offers an intriguing, respectful treatment by freelance journalist Perrin, who describes his subject as a ""personal god to me."" While Perrin suggests that a childhood bout with rheumatic fever helped O'Donoghue (born Donohue) create his alternate world, his book concentrates more on O'Donoghue's writings than on his irregular life. The author devotes unnecessary attention to ephemeral work, but his accounts of O'Donoghue's Lampoon satire (the manic home-study parody, ""How to Write Good""; ""Lt. Calley's Kill the Children Federation"") and SNL work (the brutal ""Police State""; the psycho character Mr. Mike) suggest a bite missing from most contemporary humor. In his last decade, O'Donoghue wrote unproduced screenplays and otherwise faded from view. Perrin terms him ""less an influence than a trailblazer,"" though he sees his subject's legacy in some writers (Bruce Wagner), zine producers and even Howard Stern. While this book could use a bit more balance, it achieves the author's apparent aim--it cements the memory of a cult figure. Photos throughout. (July)
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