Recently I took a writing class with The Onion and started reporting about my weekly submissions.
Throughout the course we were taught the math behind The Onion’s News In Brief articles, the structure and composition of those articles, where to insert jokes, and how to tighten them up for maximum funny. I posted a few weeks worth of homework here, and then stopped. The reason for this is explained below.
Each week we learned a few “funny filters” which are types of jokes, and then sent home to write headlines and an article in those particular styles. For a while I would parrot back what I did in class. But I thought better of it in week four when we learned “shock.”
For “shock” jokes you wander out to the extreme edge of decency. Then you catapult yourself off the ledge into the abyss of darkness. That’s your base. After you find depravity, then you have to figure out a way to make “shock” funny. Because it’s actually very easy to be shocking. I think we can agree that telling a story to a friend where you called a nun the c-word would qualify as shocking. The friend might even chuckle, because often times we laugh at shocking statements. It would be a cheap laugh, however because it isn’t particularly funny. Nor is it an insightful or intelligent critique of society. Satire is The Onion’s goal, which means you must have a point of view.
Years ago I was walking with a girlfriend and we saw a nun running at full speed down the street on the sidewalk, wearing a habit. I asked, “You know why nuns are able to run so fast? Because they’re always being chaste.” It’s a dumb pun, but I like dumb puns so go jump in a lake.
To be able to complete the shock homework your mind has to go to some dark places. And mine did. The good news is that I was in a class filled with humor writers who have no boundaries. You were allowed to say pretty much anything without judgement. But this is a public blog. I wrote some truly terrible things for that exercise. I can share a few of what was submitted, but I won’t post everything. I think the reason for this is obvious. Some readers would get offended. And rightfully so. So I ain’t sharing it, because I don’t need the hate on Twitter.
Well, I’ll share two – these were the least disgusting headlines I penned.
- Apple Watch 85% Accurate Predicting Diabetes And 100% Accurate Predicting Nerds
- Valentine’s Day Difficult For Nation’s Unlovable Residents
I’m also willing to post my article because I think you can handle it. Excuse the timing issue as this was completed in mid-February and the article is a goof on the Super Bowl.
I guess the following article could be offensive to Philadelphia residents, but screw them. They know where they live.
Fictional Character Rocky No Longer Philadelphia’s Greatest Achievement
PHILADELPHIA-Fresh off last Sunday’s Super Bowl upset victory, the Philadelphia Eagles have dethroned fictional boxer Rocky Balboa as the city’s single greatest achievement, marking the first time anything noteworthy has occurred in Philadelphia since the movie’s release back in 1976. “Look, for the last 30 years we’ve been known for Rocky, cheesesteaks, the Liberty Bell, and quite honestly, that was it on the positive side of the ledger,” revealed mayor Jim Kenney, adding that the parade for the football players should be a historic city moment and that he hoped the residents would stop destroying the city in a drunken victorious rampage long enough to enjoy the event. “We also boast the most number of A.A. meetings per capita in the U.S., but we try to keep that quiet,” noted Kenney before wincing a moment later as he had forgotten this was an on the record interview.
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