The New Yorker ran an excellent article last week about Mad magazine's big anti-smoking push during the '60s, which resulted not only in tons of hilarious tobacco ad parodies but some fake smoker-friendly inventions that, had the industry paid any attention to the small ad-free satirical magazine, could've potentially kick-started the e-cigarette boom decades earlier. From the article:
But the truly prescient invention was the "smoke simulator": a cork-tipped Pyrex tube containing small amounts of water, which, like the metal rod, would be inserted into a cigarette. Once the cigarette was lit, the cork at one end of the tube (edible, of course) popped out, and the water [...]
Ever since Spike Jonze's Oscar-nominated movie Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix as a man who falls in love with a female artificially intelligent operating system, hit theaters last month, the internet has been jam-packed with parodies of the film. Most of them are called Him and feature a male operating system instead of a female one, and whoever had this simple idea first had probably better start suing everyone who made a similar video for plagiarism immediately.
For 20 years now I’ve been locked in a test of wills with corporate publishing, trying to produce books that are just as funny as TV and movies. That should be possible, right? One would think. Sometimes I win (international bestseller), sometimes they do (they commission books, then don’t pay me). I tell myself it’s David versus Goliath…but it’s probably just Joe Versus the Volcano.
Comedy being 90% confidence, there’s often a rough equivalence between a media’s swag, and the quality of comedy found in it. But weakness and decay can yield fruit as well — Garrison Keillor on the radio, for example, or The Onion rising from the ashes of [...]
Viral success on the internet is a strange phenomenon. Marketers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to create something people will share with their friends, only to be beaten time and time again by accidents and genuine ineptitude. That’s part of the fun of the web — halfway decent singers wallow in obscurity while Rebecca Black gets 20 million hits, and your meticulously edited Tweet will never be as funny as a horse avatar poorly hawking ebooks. The content we share the most is stuff we can have conversations about, especially when the conversation goes something like, “This is weird and terrible and hilarious and I can’t look [...]
A Hot Air Balloon Captain Addresses His Crew On the Eve of a Very Important Hot Air Balloon Race: "Point is, this ain't hot air balloon racing like they taught you in kindergarten. This is the kind of blood-drinking, eye-gouging, no-holds-barred balloon racing that motherfuckers have nightmares about. We WILL be sabotaging balloons on the ground, we WILL be sniping at rival teams with rifles in the air, and we WILL be crossing that finish line first tomorrow. You see this necklace of ears that I'm wearing? Do you think I got it by following the International Balloon Association's Sportsmanship Guidelines? Guess again, dicklips."
"One of the laziest stereotypes that British people have of Americans is that they don’t get irony. And that has never been true and it’s definitely not true now. … It’s very hard to make that case when Jon [Stewart] and Stephen [Colbert] are doing what they’re doing. They’re the high-water mark for satire now."
- John Oliver in a new interview with the Washington Post ahead of the premiere of his HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which airs on HBO on April 27th.
Working as an editor for my college’s satirical newspaper, I learned one unassailable fact: we would never be as funny as The Onion. As proud as I was of the work we produced at that publication – the Kenyon Collegiate, for those Ohio liberal arts college comedy aficionados among you – it never came close to the consistency, scope or focus of America’s Finest News Source. Part of this, of course, is due to a limited talent pool and zero resources. Part of it is due to a blatant aping of their style (a working title for the newspaper was The Kenyon Carrot). Mostly, though, it’s because good satire [...]
Personality-driven reporting has become the rule rather than the exception. On Fox News and MSNBC, breaking stories come with a built-in perspective, keeping viewers loyal while helping insulate them from dissenting, challenging or complex opinions. Most blogs operate in a similar way. Try, if you can, to count how many times in the last few days you’ve skimmed over insight-free outrage at the childhood behavior of Mitt Romney. This is a question of hits, of course — a famous man being awful is news everyone wants to click on, and taking a righteous stance against him is easy, safe, and brand-building. On its own, this seems to be just [...]
For your viewing and head-scratching pleasure, here's the Taiwanese interpretation of yesterday's Onion scandal, from Next Media Animation. Wouldn't it be great if media conflicts really were solved by putting the offenders in a dunk tank, like they are in this video? And then Newsweek would buy the Onion some funnel cake, while the Capitol Police hopped around in a bouncy castle holding hands. Ahhhh I wish the world were a carnival.
Bassem Youssef, who hosts a satirical news show in Egypt akin to Comedy Central's The Daily Show, payed Jon Stewart a visit last night. Being in Egypt instead of America makes his job slightly more difficult than Stewart's.
Stick it out through a few minutes of talk about comparative literature and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and you'll get to the good stuff in this TED talk from comedian Chris Bliss about the power of comedy. By "good stuff," obviously I mean "explanation of how satire with integrity uses comedic techniques to impact people's opinions."
What gives comedy its edge at reaching around people's walls is the way that it uses misdirection. A great piece of comedy is a verbal magic trick, where you think it's going over here, and then all of a sudden you're transported over here, and there's this mental delight that's followed by the [...]
Bobcat Goldthwait's God Bless America premiered last Friday at Toronto's Ryerson theater as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, and according to the L.A. Times, the audience was thrilled to watch disgruntled Everypeople Joel Murray (Bill's brother) and Tara Lynne Barr burn a streak of murder, mayhem and anti-pop culture rants across the lower 48. On the other hand, the opening sequenceof the pitch black comedy does feature a fantasy sequence in which an infant is blown away by a shot gun so, you know, the audience may be a self-selecting group.
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