P.J. O’Rourke, considered to be one of the sharpest satirists of the last 40 years, has passed away at the age of 74. O’Rourke died after a brief battle with lung cancer.
O’Rourke first rose to prominence as a writer at National Lampoon. O’Rourke was around during its heyday in the early 70’s, and co-wrote the infamous National Lampoon 1964 High School Yearbook Parody alongside Doug Kenney. He also contributed bits to National Lampoon’s off-Broadway show, Lemmings, a send-up of Woodstock. Some of the cast of Lemmings included John Belushi, Christopher Guest, and Chevy Chase.
O’Rourke is perhaps best remembered, however, for his biting political satire. Over the course of his career, he went from being one of the counter-culture, gonzo-journalism loving, left-leaning voices in his generation to sharp satire from a more conservative libertarian point of view. In the 80’s, he was a fixture at publications like Playboy, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone. But no matter what your politics were, you could never argue that O’Rourke’s work as a writer was anything less than compelling.
He even made the leap over to television. In 1996, he became a conservative commentator in the point counterpoint segment of 60 Minutes. In 2008, he covered that year’s presidential election on Real Time with Bill Maher. He also became a regular panelist on Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me.
Over the course of his career, O’Rourke wrote an impressive 20 books, many of which became New York Times Best-Sellers. Some of his books include Republican Party Reptile, Parliament of Whores, Give War A Chance, Eat The Rich, Driving Like Crazy, and A Cry from the Far Middle: Dispatches from a Divided Land, which was the last book he ever wrote in 2020.