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Record your Spanks!


I don’t generally publish my own opinions on here, but I think this is important:

If you’re doing a spank, record it!

A surprising number of people don’t do this. And you should do it. It will help you be specific in what you fix and more objective on the next draft. You do all of that work on a…

Filed under sketch

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You Already Know The Real “Why”


In improv, you always need a good “why.” 

The trick is realizing that you often already know why, deep down, even when the things you’re doing happened instinctually. Don’t fix it to what you think the why SHOULD be.

Like you’re doing a two person scene and the other person says “I want to run with the bulls in Spain” and you have a gut reaction that makes you shake your head with a little bit of disgust and you say “Ugh, not that.”

You didn’t sit there and plan that out. You’re not in your head, you’re just reacting — which is good — but NOW you need to decide why you just did that.

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2014-09-01 The Onion at Bumbershoot

The Onion had a panel at Bumbershoot, and I didn’t take notes, so here are my memories in point form.

From Greg Barnes, here’s a picture of the panel: https://twitter.com/gsbarnes1/status/506629987366350848

  • Process much like outlined in the NPR piece. I think they said they bring 1500 headlines per week to the pitch table?
  • Some stuff that doesn’t make it through will be used in news crawls.
  • The writer of the piece isn’t necessarily the person who pitched the headline.
  • Also showed some of the graphics work - initial photos and final photoshopped results. (See also this FastCo Design piece on their graphics department)
  • They get into lots of arguments at work.
  • Sometimes headlines get pity votes on first pass.
  • Path to joining staff is very hard.
  • Sad thing about losing print version is that some jokes only work in print. (And to be fair, some jokes only work on the web.)
  • They often work 60 hour weeks.
  • The office is open plan and this has bled into their writing, since open plan is terrible.
  • The staff got younger in the last few years, so jokes about families have gradually been replaced by jokes about roommates.
  • It’s a quiet office most of the time since everyone’s writing a lot.
  • Newest member on the panel: (paraphrased) “I was excited to come here and finally not be the funniest person in the room, to come to a place where people wouldn’t laugh at my jokes. I thought it would make me better. It was actually a crushing and horrible experience, but it did make me better.”
  • One headline has sat on the board for about five years now; it’s never been good enough to get published but has enough potential that they keep it around.
  • Sometimes they’ll work on a piece for 30 minutes in the brainstorm session even though they don’t plan on publishing it.
  • Occasionally they will get all the way to writing a full piece and then spike it anyways because it just doesn’t quite work.
  • Clickhole was established to more accurately satirize the internet. It lets them do Internet specific stuff without compromising the Onion’s particular style.
  • The same writer writes the Jean Teasdale and Herbert Kornfeld columns. I guess she got tired of writing the Kornfeld ones?
  • The name of the institution probably comes from the U Wisc Madison student union newspaper/events listing paper “The Union”. So that’s why the alt joke paper was called “The Onion”.
  • EDIT: I forgot a couple more super important bits. Someone asked about the people used for the American Voices regular feature. Couple of fun things out of that. One person was used only once, because he was a school teacher and his students were going crazy about it after that week, so he had to ask for his photo to be retired.
  • When the American Voices photos were updated to be in color years later, the Onion tracked down all the models used the first time and got them to dress in the same clothes too.

Filed under the onion theonion comedy satire bumbershoot