The Comedy Connection

It seems like a sweet life. You spend your days at Harvard ensconced in a castle. You occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine. You wear a funky little hat. And when you graduate, you get a posh job as a comedy writer. Welcome to the life of a 'Poonster.

Uh, but you might hit glitches along the way. Four years of unemployment, say, or having to cultivate your comedy skills to writing for "America's Most Wanted." Welcome to the life of former Lampoon vice president William L. Oakley Jr. '88.

Oakley, whose work as executive producer of "The Simpsons" garnered three Emmy awards, is only one of the hugely successful members of his Lampoon class. He, and his fellow Lampoon alums, make it in the end--and make it funny in the end--but the road there isn't always smooth. Think a Very Special Episode of "Seventh Heaven" but with a "King of the Hill" feel.

"I was on unemployment for 26 weeks before it ran out, and I lived

off my wife," Oakley says.

His years at the Lampoon, which began under the reign of president Conan C. O'Brien '85, allowed him to contribute to the notorious 1986 USA Today parody and gave Oakley a taste of comedy writing.

Oakley concentrated in American History ("a marketable skill, huh?" he quips), but directed his talent toward comedy writing instead of analyzing Melville.

He formed a writing team with a high-school friend, Joshua Weinstein, and they landed a handful of weeklong jobs for cable shows and sitcom pilots.

The Lampoon connection did little good in late '80s Hollywood, though.