Thursday, June 21st, 2012

My Five Favorite Onion News Network Videos of the Hundreds We Made

This is my last week as head writer of the Onion News Network. The business side at The Onion, you may have heard, has decided to relocate the writers from New York to Chicago where the corporate offices are. Some of the writers are moving; a lot of them are leaving to do other things. (As for me, I'm going to go to work on Andy Daly's new Comedy Central show. I'm a big fan of his so I'm psyched. And check out the video series me and two other former ONN writers are making, called The Cool Kids' Table.)

Anyway, I've been with Onion video since we started it back in 2006, so a bit of nostalgia is in order. Between then and now we've made hundreds of videos, won a Peabody, had two television shows cancelled, and rode in a lot of CC Rentals vans. I worked with so many great people who have or will go on to do other great funny things. So please indulge me as I enumerate my five favorite videos we ever made.

1. Pop Star's Single, 'Booty Wave', Most Likely Civilization's Downfall

I loved making this morning show segment about a horrible pop singer named K'Ronikka. I had "Booty Wave" stuck in my head for weeks. I watched the video, created by our amazing graphics team, about 50 times. I really wanted "Booty Wave" to catch on as a real pop song but it never did. This is actually a clip from the second season of our TV show on IFC, which never really caught on either.

Brad Holbrook and Tracy Toth, the actors who play Jim and Tracy, were always so funny and great and up for anything. We've had actors refuse to say "fingered" or "ballsack" or say a small Mexican woman looks like E.T. because they have careers as real reporters and TV hosts. But Brad and Tracy have never refused to do a single line we've written for them. Tracy used to be an airline pilot if you need to be more in love with her.

2. Denmark Introduces Harrowing New Tourism Ads Directed By Lars Von Trier

Our subtitled "ONN international" videos ones were definitely not our most popular videos. Too much reading. I'm really proud of them, though. We did ones set in Afghanistan, North Korea, the Congo, and more. We always worked hard to find people with the right regional dialect just for that one guy out there who might be like "Excuse me, they speak Dzongkha in Bhutan, not Sikkimese." Luckily in New York there's someone from everywhere. Judy Adler directed this one about Lars Von Trier doing horrifying tourism ads for Denmark. I know because I remember her telling the naked elderly man crawling around in the mud to drool more saliva onto the boots he was licking.

3. How To Get A Guy To Notice You While You're Having Sex With Him

Here's another morning show video, a how-to segment for getting a guy to notice you while he's having sex with you. I like it cause it's a lady joke, being about dating advice, but it's not too nicey nice.

Really, there's a ton of these Today Now! how-to segments I love, like this one which provides tips for playing golf with the man whose wife you're sleeping with and this one about how to save money by going on a "mind vacation." Morning shows just have that certain rhythm that's so fun to imitate.They're so banal.

4. In The Know: Is Pundit Duncan Birch A Worthless Idiot?

In The Know was definitely my favorite thing to shoot. It was the only type of segment we did significant amounts of improv for on set — and even then we did less improv than you might think. We generally didn't use comedic actors in our videos, because we tried to play everything pretty straight, but In The Know was the exception. I wish I could buy stock in Brian Huskey (Duncan Birch). He's gonna blow up huge any day now. So this video is my favorite just because it has four times the Huskey. I love Julie Brister, too. When the writers and I read the scripts out loud while writing them I always wanted to read the Lauralee Hickok part so I could do Julie's southern accent. Jeremy Beiler (Jason Copeland) and Laura Krafft (Paula Norcross) aren't in this one but they were super too.

The YouTube commenters' favorite character was Nancy Fichandler. People would write "I love you, old black lady!!!!!" She's a former stage actress named Dorothy who has a dog named Mr. Wonderful. I don't think I actually know her last name but she won't be offended because she will never read this. She doesn't even have email. We had to have an intern print out scripts and run them over to her house before every shoot. She'd always take home a bunch of food from the craft services table. Once she took home an entire bag of baked potatoes.

5. Sony Releases New Stupid Piece Of Shit That Doesn't Fucking Work

I was thinking I should round out this list with a political video, something with a trenchant satirical point. But I think I prefer this one about Sony releasing a new stupid piece of shit that doesn't do the goddamn thing it's supposed to do. It's basically just an "angry dad" joke, but it always makes me laugh.

Carol Kolb is a comedy writer from Brooklyn, NY, USA.

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  • anon

    * Franz Kafka International Airport
    * African-American boycott of L.L. Bean
    * The Army's "Bring Your Daughters to Work Day"
    * Voting machine elected president
    * In The Know: our colleges' international competitiveness in drinking
    * President Bush personally surveys the damages of his presidency
    * Tom Coughlin retires from family to spend more time with NY Giants
    * Anything with Michael Falk

  • http://benworcester.com/ Ben Worcester

    I always thought this Dominoes piece was terrific: 

    The "actual garbage" line gets me every time.

  • Emily_Gould

    DREAM OMELET. DREAM OMELET!!!!! (dream omelet!)

  • Willystaley

    Omar al-Farouq, al-Qaeda's PR flack, was always a personal favorite. 

  • CheruthCutestory

    Franz Kafka International Airport! 

  • popnlocke

    Historical Tour of Blockbuster got me laughing the loudest. 

  • whizz_dumb

    That is pronkrageous! Congress Debates Merits Of New Catchphrase is the pronkingest.

  • whizz_dumb

    That is pronkrageous! Congress Debates Merits Of New Catchphrase is the pronkingest.

  • aschildkrout


  • aschildkrout


  • Fred_Barnes

    I'm probably just asking to get trolled for this kind of maudlin sincerity, but: I freaking love you, Carol Kolb. I'm gonna miss your era of ONN immensely. You, Rob Siegel, Joe Garden and that generation of Onion writers really taught me what comedy could do back when I was in high school.

    Good luck in your future endeavors.

    Sincerely,Matthew Phelan

    (I don't know why this is forcing me to post as Fred Barnes. I mean, I do, but it's a long story.)

  • http://twitter.com/Nic_Turishawno Nicholas Turiciano

    I'm pretty sure that "Booty Wave" did, in fact, catch on as a pop hit in Fort Collins, Colo.

    • KidvanDanzig

      Pretty sure we can blame that one on Erin Browne

  • http://twitter.com/zacharylittle J.K. LOLing

    Some Bullshit Happening Somewhere was pitch perfect.

  • Chris

    How to find a masculine Halloween costume for your effeminate son!!!! "This is a good costume for what I call a prancer…."

  • riggs

    Huh. I would've watched more but I'm not watching that fucking ad five times. 

    • Wences

      If I wasn't already not going to see that movie, I'm sure not going to see it now.

  • DevinC

    I don't think I could narrow down my list to only five, but 'Booty Wave' and 'How to find a Hallowe'en costume for your effeminate son' have to be in there.  Oh, and the one with the guy who thoughtfully donated a bag of human kidneys to a hospital.

  • chrf

    Some ONN segments are so great, Carol Kolb should really be proud.  I was loling rewatching the Sony one.

  • Fester_Bestertester

    The Sony POS is a classic! I also like "Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard", "Cindy McCain Claims She’s ‘Just Like Any Other Female Human’", and "Breaking News: Series Of Concentric Circles Emanating From Glowing Red Dot".

  • Eva Anderson

    Carol Kolb is the greatest.