The following is from this "Talk of the Town" story by Tad Friend, which was published in the December 15, 2003, issue of The New Yorker.
For four years, the comedy team of Steve Brykman, Joe Oesterle, Sean Crespo, and Mason Brown—the Los Angeles-based staff of the National Lampoon Web site—were riding high. Their 2002 Hollywood Reporter spoof was one of the finest Hollywood-trade-publication parodies ever published, and an album they released this year, "Rules of the Road," was as devastating a satire of trucking songs as you're likely to find. Then, in September, without warning, they were laid off. To save money, the Lampoon site's owners were going to rely on freelancers.
After a month of reflection, the team decided to bestow their talents upon a more appreciative audience: eBay. Surely there were legions of people out there who needed help with a witty script, speech, or commercial, people who may not even have known exactly what they were looking for but who would catch auction fever once they happened on eBay Item No. 2966033287: "Former National Lampoon Creative Staff for Sale." The listing was designed to appeal to every market segment: Item A, Mason Brown, "The Aristocrat," embodied "a cautionary tale of dissipation and familial decay befitting Gibbon." Item B, Steve Brykman, "The Jew," was guaranteed to be "still in VG+ condition in original skin." Item C, Sean Crespo, had manifold strengths, including "Abstract/Conceptual humor, Spelling, Hubris," while Item D, Joe Oesterle, "The Confirmed Bachelor," had repeatedly proven himself, "changing the big Sparkletts water bottle when it got empty." As a bidding guideline, the team noted that its usual rates were "$14,000/week or $50,000/month or $250,000/six months or $400,000 per year."
Click here to read the rest.