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Tony Hendra began his humor career at Cambridge University where he met and performed frequently with future “Monty Python” stars John Cleese and Graham Chapman. Moving to New York in 1964, Hendra worked as a comedian appearing in all major American nightclubs and guesting frequently on major talk and variety shows of the 60s including “The Tonight Show” (with Johnny Carson) and half a dozen times on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Hendra joined The National Lampoon in 1971, as its first non-founding editor and wrote for and edited it for eight years. He produced and wrote several Lampoon albums, notably its first, “Radio Dinner,” on which he performed a celebrated parody of John Lennon. He produced and directed Lampoon’s off-Broadway hit “Lemmings” in which he cast John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Christopher Guest in their first major roles.
In the early 80s he co-created and co-produced the long running British satirical series “Spitting Image,” for which he was nominated in 1985 for a BAFTA award. In 1984 he starred as Ian Faith in the classic rock and roll satire THIS IS SPINAL TAP, voted in 1999 by the Writers Guild of America one of the best 100 comedies of the 20th century.
Other screen-writing credits include three features with Belgian animator Picha and the boxing satire The Great White Hype (1997) with famed director Ron Shelton and starring Samuel Jackson and Jeff Goldblum. He has appeared in numerous movies, TV series and specials and written extensively for New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, Forbes, Esquire, GQ, Details, Harpers and many others.
Tony Hendra has written for and edited dozens of books and full length parodies notably Not The New York Times (1978) and Off the Wall Street Journal (1982/3). On the 25th anniversary of the latter (April 2008) he published an update called My Wall Street Journal, parodying the paper as it would look under Rupert Murdoch’s ownership.
In the late 80s he began writing for SPY and became its editor-in-chief in 1993.
Going Too Far published in 1987 is a history of modern American satire from the mid-50s to the mid-80s which has been described as ‘a magnificent history of subversive humor’ by the Independent of London and is used as a definitive text in many college courses.
His best-selling books include The 80s – A Look Back (1979) and Brotherhood (2001), a tribute to the New York firefighters who died on 9/11, both of which stayed in the NY Times Best-Seller List Top Ten for two months. Father Joe (2004) stayed on it for more than three months, has sold over 500,000 copies and been translated into fifteen languages. Another massive best-seller was Last Words the posthumous life-story of his longtime friend George Carlin, which was published in November 2009