Brian McConnachie, 81, a former Philipstown resident who wrote for National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live and founded and relaunched The American Bystander, died Jan. 5 in Venice, Florida.

He and his wife, Ann, moved to Garrison from New York City in 1988. “We’d heard there were good schools in Garrison,” McConnachie told The Current in 2017. They bought an 1890s farmhouse with a one-horse stable next to the Garrison School.

“The first day of school, we walked our daughter down this old ox-cart road, and horses were grazing,” he recalled. “It reached the point where I thought, ‘Oh, come on. Let’s tone down the Norman Rockwell.’ ”

After the move, he continued to write comedy and act, including minor roles in seven Woody Allen films and classic comedies such as Caddyshack and Sleepless in Seattle. In 1983, he had founded a humor magazine called The American Bystander; he revived it in 2015 with Michael Gerber.

Brian McConnachie
Brian McConnachie in 2017 (Photo by Sheila Williams)

Born on Dec. 23, 1942, McConnachie grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, and attended the LaSalle Military Academy on Long Island and the University of Dublin. After moving to New York, he began submitting cartoons to the National Lampoon. Soon after, the magazine offered him a job. He was hired away by Saturday Night Live and worked on its fourth season (1978-79) and later  contributing sketches.

In Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, a history of the National Lampoon, Rick Meyerowitz writes of McConnachie: “He emphasized the illogical and the absurd, and he demolished the reader’s cozy expectations. He quickly became every other writer’s favorite writer.” He added that McConnachie’s work for the Lampoon “is well loved, here on Earth, and on his home planet.”

From 1989 to 1995, McConnachie wrote for Shining Time Station, the program that introduced Thomas the Tank Engine to the U.S., and he worked the animated Noddy from 1998-2000. He also wrote a 2013 episode of The Simpsons, “The Fabulous Faker Boy.”

Along with Ann, his wife of 56 years, he is survived by his daughter, Mary, his son-in-law, Tim, and three grandchildren.

Behind The Story

Type: Obituary

Obituary: Reports the death of an individual, providing an account of the person’s life including their achievements, any controversies in which they were involved, and reminiscences by people who knew them.

Articles attributed to "staff" are written by the editor or a senior editor. This is typically because they are brief items based on a single source, such as a press release, or there are multiple contributors, such as a collection of photos.

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