The following is from this article about Harold Ramis, from The New Yorker's recent humor issue.
In 1974, Belushi, who loved having Ramis as his deadpan foil, brought him—and several other Second City actors, including Bill Murray—to New York to work on "The National Lampoon Radio Hour" and "The National Lampoon Show." Ramis slowly came to accept his role as the whetstone. "As a person of intellect, I could complement John or Bill, who were people of instinct; I could help guide and deploy that instinct," he says. Even now, Martin Short told me, if someone in a group of comedians cracks a joke, "everyone skirts their eyes over to Harold first, to see if he laughs."
As Belushi and other Second City actors were becoming famous on "Saturday Night Live," Ramis began writing what would become "National Lampoon's Animal House" with Doug Kenney, one of the founders of National Lampoon. (A third writer, Chris Miller, soon joined them.) They were paid ten thousand dollars each and wrote eight hours a day for three months. Ramis took the lead in constructing the script, but its tone owed a lot to Kenney, a sarcastic Harvard graduate who became Ramis's constant companion. "Doug was the Wasp me, the me with alcoholism thrown in," Ramis says. "He used to say that 'just because something's popular doesn't mean it's bad,' which I really took to heart, because my stance had always been that people are idiots and sheep. Our other motto was 'Broad comedy is not necessarily dumb comedy.' Doug envisioned 'Animal House' and, later, 'Caddyshack' as edgy, adult Disney films. He understood that if you make it look like Disney and feel like Disney, and then inject a much edgier message, you have a way of reaching people without threatening them."
Crude as "Animal House" was, it was also rambunctiously optimistic. By setting the film in the early sixties, the writers tapped the source of their earliest ideals. "Our generation's revolutionary energy had slipped away after Kent State and the rise of the violent fringe of the Weather Underground," Ramis says. "We revived it." They revived it by making their obvious outsiders into not so obvious insiders. "Woody Allen had defined the American nebbish as a loser," Ramis adds. "But we felt instinctively that our outsiders weren't losers. They may not achieve anything in the traditional sense—they may not even be smart—but they're countercultural heroes. The movie went on after the credits to tell you that these were your future leaders, while the guys from the 'good' frat would be raped in prison and fragged by their own troops."
Ramis describes Doug Kenney as the only person he knew who would hit the accelerator if he saw a car crossing his path. When they wrote "Caddyshack" together, along with Bill Murray's older brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, Kenney was using a lot of cocaine and seemed depressed. In July, 1980, after becoming so hostile at the "Caddyshack" press junket that the film's publicists asked him to leave, Kenney took a vacation on the Hawaiian island of Kauai and disappeared. When his body was found, under Hanapepe Lookout, a few days later, it was Ramis who delivered the verdict that everyone repeated: "Doug probably fell while he was looking for a place to jump."