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Brian McConnachie, Humor Writer ‘From Another Planet,’ Dies at 81

Brian McConnachie, Humor Writer ‘From Another Planet,’ Dies at 81


Brian McConnachie, who introduced absurdist humor to 3 comedy touchstones of the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s — National Lampoon journal and the NBC tv collection “Saturday Night Live” and “SCTV Network” — died in hospice care on Jan. 5 in Venice, Fla. He was 81.

The trigger was problems of Parkinson’s illness, his spouse, Ann (Crilly) McConnachie, stated.

Mr. McConnachie — who stood 6-foot-5 and infrequently wearing a bow tie, swimsuit and saddle footwear — had a sublime, patrician presence that set him aside from the wilder, extra raveled writers (most of them males) who usually surrounded him.

“Look, in case you advised me that he had been a welcomed member of the Algonquin Round Table, and he was there with James Thurber, I’d get that,” Alan Zweibel, an authentic “S.N.L.” author who labored with Mr. McConnachie, stated in a telephone interview. “The remainder of us had been hooligans.”

Yet even when he seemed to be extra of a grown-up than different writers within the Lampoon and “S.N.L.” orbits, Mr. McConnachie’s laid-back, whimsical type — with some anarchic, disturbed twists — slot in effectively with the opposite writers’ contributions.

“If the story of the National Lampoon had been a script by Rod Serling,” Rick Meyerowitz, a number one illustrator there, wrote in “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead” (2010), his historical past of the journal, “the principle character would have been Brian McConnachie, a person who his colleagues had been satisfied was from one other planet.”

In a telephone interview, Mr. Meyerowitz added that the sense of Mr. McConnachie as otherworldly was “what you bought once you learn him however not once you sat and had a beer with him.”

“In all methods,” he added, “he was very modest and never showy.”

In 1973, Mr. McConnachie satirized the cartoon cat and mouse characters Tom and Jerry in “Kit ’n’ Kaboodle,” a Lampoon mini-comic ebook (illustrated by Warren Sattler) through which Kit the cat sustains brutal accidents — an anvil crushes his backbone, a gunshot blows off a part of his head — that don’t heal as they usually do in comics and animation.

In 1973 he appeared in {a photograph} in “National Lampoon 1964 High School Yearbook Parody” as a music teacher, Dwight Mannsburden, standing at an angle mimicking his close by metronome. A 12 months later, for “The National Lampoon Radio Hour,” Mr. McConnachie collaborated with Louise Gikow on “Moby! The Musical,” a parody of “Moby Dick.”

In “Name the Bats,” a game-show parody written by Mr. McConnachie’s for “S.N.L.,” Michael Palin, because the M.C., shuts a rickety barn door on two contestants (John Belushi, whom Mr. McConnachie was shut with, and Gilda Radner) and barks at them to offer names to the bats flapping at them at midnight.

When they establish varied varieties of bats, Mr. Palin excoriates them.

“You’re supposed to call the bats!” he shouts. “Don’t inform us what sort of bats they’re! We know what sort of bats they’re! Who do you assume put ’em in there?”

Mr. Zweibel stated that on the desk learn of the sketch, “I by no means laughed more durable; we had been all doubled over.”

For “SCTV,” Mr. McConnachie and Dave Thomas, one of many present’s stars, wrote a sketch in 1981 through which Vikings board a ship within the 12 months 986 — uninterested in the sameness of their previous strategies of assaults on England — and convey a brand new and surprising weapon: bees.

Bees?” Mr. Thomas, who performed the Viking captain, wrote in 2020 in The American Bystander, a humor journal conceived within the Eighties by Mr. McConnachie and revived greater than 30 years later. “This was such a delightfully insane idea that I fell in love with it immediately and provided to assist write it.”

The Vikings’ plan to “launch the swarming terror” faces a farcical impediment: The beekeepers’ chief (Joe Flaherty) says the bees can’t journey west at evening, so in the course of the day the Vikings should row east, complicating the duty of reaching England, which — spoiler alert — they by no means do.

Brian John McConnachie was born on Dec. 23, 1942, in Manhattan and grew up in Forest Hills, Queens. His father, Morton, was a reporter for The New York Journal and a newsreel manufacturing manager. His mom, Mae (Clark) McConnachie, was a teacher.

Mr. McConnachie studied English at University College Dublin from 1961 to 1963 and served within the Army for 2 years. He then labored at an promoting company, the place he reviewed TV reveals that the company’s purchasers marketed on. To his colleagues’ chagrin, he praised rural comedies like “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “The Andy Griffith Show” for his or her sweetness and their good gags, he advised Review Magazine, which covers information and leisure within the Great Lakes Bay area of Michigan, in 2008.

He was shuttled to what he known as the “Floor of Lost Men” with no work to do.

After the Lampoon started publishing in 1970, Mr. McConnachie appeared to it as his profession salvation.

“I needed to be there,” he stated. “I used to be like some child from Kansas going to New York to get the half within the present, however I did it from New York. I began going there with cartoons.”

The cartoons had been crude, however they acquired the eye of Henry Beard, one of many journal’s founders and editors. Mr. McConnachie was employed in 1972. He left the journal after 4 years and joined “S.N.L.” for the 1978-79 season, its fourth.

He was nominated for an Emmy in 1979 as a member of the “S.N.L.” writing workers. After becoming a member of “SCTV” for its 1981 season — its first on NBC after a number of years in syndication — he shared an Emmy for excellent writing for a spread or music program.

Around that point, Mr. McConnachie helped begin The American Bystander, however it produced just one pilot subject, in 1982, doomed by the monetary impression of the recession that started a 12 months earlier.

“He was mild, not possible to learn and unpredictable,” Jennifer Finney Boylan, the managing editor for that sole subject, stated by telephone, “however tremendously encouraging to younger writers.”

The chance of resurrecting the journal by no means left Mr. McConnachie through the years, as he wrote for the youngsters’s collection “Shining Time Station” and “Noddy”; acted in movies (together with small roles in “Caddyshack,” “Six Degrees of Separation,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and a number of other Woody Allen films); and delivered commentaries on NPR.

“He had that flush of success within the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s, however then he couldn’t discover the sort of establishment that he prospers in,” Michael Gerber, the editor and writer of The American Bystander, stated by telephone. “He actually wanted one. He by no means actually felt snug exterior of a gang.”

In addition to his spouse, Mr. McConnachie is survived by his daughter, Mary Crilly O’Hara, and three grandchildren.

In the 1982 subject of The American Bystander, Mr. McConnachie collaborated with the illustrator Frank Springer on a comic book strip through which two brothers, taking part in for rival baseball groups, crash into one another at second base, strip bare and grapple within the type of Olympic-style Greco-Roman wrestlers.

“This can’t be good for baseball,” an umpire thinks to himself as he watches.

The baseball commissioner suspends them however rapidly laments the ensuing drop in attendance. Before they return to the sector, the brothers doff their garments and wrestle throughout a Bingo recreation.

“Sure beats taking part in Bingo,” one bystander says.

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