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It’s Hard to Work at the Onion.

The radio show This American Life has a a great episode where they sat in on an editorial meeting at The Onion. Every week, the comedy writers brainstorm more than 600 fake headlines, but only 16 are picked to run in the newspaper. During the meeting, there’s an average of just one laugh for every 100 jokes. Tough crowd! In the interview, the writers explain why some headlines are funny, and some aren’t; it’s fascinating to hear the nuances.

Here are a few fake headlines that passed the test…

Dolphin Spends Amazing Vacation Swimming with Stockbroker.
Foreign Guy Probably Dressed Very Fashionably For Wherever He’s From.
Man At Salad Bar Has To Say Every Item Aloud As He Adds It To Salad.
Dad’s Been On A Parenting Kick Lately.
Fun-Loving, Laid-Back Woman With A Bit Of A Nerdy Side Joins Online Dating Service.
Pretty Obvious Which Parts Of Wedding Website Written By Groom.
Exercise Ball All the Way Over There.
Eric Clapton Wows Audience with Even Slower Version of Layla.
Two People Who Went To Same College Ruin Evening For Rest Of Group.
Cat Seemed Perfectly Content Right Up Until Point He Bolted Out Of Room.
Mom Spends Beach Vacation Assuming All Household Duties In Closer Proximity To Ocean.
Dad Actually Yelled At That Guy.
Man Still Trying To Find Right Work-Anxiety–Life-Anxiety Balance.
Weird Guy From 2 Jobs Ago Still Liking Woman’s Photos On Facebook.
(Another tough crowd:)

Anyway, the episode was really funny, if you’re in the mood. Do you have any other radio shows or podcasts you’d recommend? I have a new thing where I’m trying to go on a weekly walk by myself while listening to radio, just as a little “me time.” (Not to be super cheesy about it or anything:) I’d love any recommendations!

P.S. Some funny comics.

(Top photo by Colin via Wikipedia; bottom photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt. TAL episode OfaKind)

  1. I’m so surprised that only one person mentioned Julie Klausner’s How Was Your Week that I had to leave a comment in case you missed it! As a new mama myself (our little boy is just a few weeks older than Anton) one of the highlights of my week is listening to Julie while taking the little guy for a walk in the stroller. She is candid, hilarious, and always has insightful, intelligent interviews with a fascinating range of guests (writers, documentarians, comedians, Joan Collins!) along with her always entertaining opening monologue. And while I really love a lot of the podcasts mentioned above, sometimes the dulcet tones of NPR are enough to send a new mama to sleep! Julie is a vibrant, refreshing voice in the podcast world – like spending an hour with your smart, funny, brassy girlfriend.

  2. I love Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin, After The Jump by Grace Bonney, You Look Nice Today (if you don’t mind laughing in public!) and Back to Work with Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann.

  3. I highly recommend 99% Invisible by Roman Mars. Quick little podcasts that bring to light the design in this world that remains 99% invisible to the general public, yet influence our everyday lives. The stories are really amazing and quirky. Enjoy!

  4. Love these suggestions. I have so many new podcasts to listen to. I wont be redundant by including my top favs but some that I love that havent been mentioned yet:

    If I Were You – The college humor guys give “advice” which always ends up being just making fun of the people who write in. Its hilarious. Their dynamic is so great.

    The Monday Morning Podcast – Bill Burrs podcast. Its really just him talking about everything but if you like Bill Burr this podcast is great (the joe rogan show is this same style but you really gotta be a joe rogan fan to be into it, plus everyones clearly high)

    Hardcore History – Dan Carlin goes in depth in history in a very engaging way. My boyfriend is obsessed.

    And I wanna give a second mention to Judge John Hodgman since its so freaking funny and different. 2 people come on the show with whatever disagreement they are having (the episode about sitting at the “kids table” is my favorite) and John Hodgman hears their sides and decides who is right.

  5. I love Uhh Yeah Dude, which is just two hilarious guys hanging out and talking, and I just started listening to Welcome to Night Vale. It’s a bizarre, ongoing saga about a fictitious town, and each episode is around 20 minutes.