Inside 'The [206]', the Most Popular Local TV Comedy in America

The seeds of the most popular local TV comedy in the country were planted 25 years ago, outside a Seattle restaurant when two strangers walked up to Chris Cashman’s dad, Pat, and thanked him for his work on Almost Live, a local sketch comedy show similar to Saturday Night Live.

“They didn't even know him,” Chris, now 36, recalls. "That was the neatest thing I'd ever heard of, and I thought, if I could just do that some day…”

But Almost Live was cancelled in 1999, just as Chris became old enough to join it. The show didn’t generate enough profits for the Texas company that bought the station and the new owners had no allegiance to the local talent, despite the show’s having developed stars such as Bill Nye the Science Guy and Joel McHale who is now on Community.

But Chris didn’t give up his dream. Two years ago, he was sitting around with his dad and John Keister, the host of Almost Live, talking about how the business of comedy had changed. Now stars like Louis CK edit their shows on laptops and sell work on the Internet. They didn’t need a network, he told the older men, they could do a show on their own.

The result is The [206] — named after the Seattle area code — and they run it similar to a small startup: build an audience, hustle for sponsors, and carefully manage costs. READ MORE


Inside Jokes from Dubai and Texas: The Rise of Local Satire

The following web headlines received hundreds of thousands of views and shut down local Internet servers:

1) “Emirates to Introduce Shisha Lounges Onboard A380 Fleet” in Dubai;

2) “Man Takes Viagra, Wears Sweatpants for TSA Pat Down” in Washington DC;

3) “The Assassination of [London Mayor] Boris Johnson” in London.

Each of them was fake. But none of them was from The Onion, Private Eye or the Harvard Lampoon, some of the famous names in satire writing.

Fake news sites proliferate now, from Mexico’s El Deforma to India’s Unreal Times; from the rural Texas Cockroach to the UK’s popular Daily Mash. Fake news, like regular news, has even become a fixture of communities unattached to a specific location, like Duffel-Blog’s parody of US military news and Riskbitz, which skewers the insurance industry.

Like real news, fake news has had to adapt to the rapidly changing way people consume the news. Out of these changes small community satire sites have grown in number and popularity. And they are casting doubt on and giving local news events a more pointed perspective in the same way the Onion does for national news. READ MORE