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Entries in the onion (5)

Monday
Oct182010

The Wit of The Onion's Jean Teasdale, Now in Book Format

Hey Jeanketeers--The Onion's cherished human interest columnist, Jean Teasdale, wrote a book.

Here's a paragraph from the intro of A Book of Jean's Own! that cracked me up:

"Should I call myself an average, humble homemaker who lives at 1567 Blossom Meadows Drive, Apartment 4B? I could, but it would mean leaving so much out, because this homemaker has worn many hats in her day. It's true: if you live in my area, you've probably known me at various times as your supermarket cashier, your drugstore cashier, your liquor store cashier, your truck-stop waitress, your bowling-alley shoe booth clerk, your junior shampooist, your assistant florist-trainee, your soft-serve ice cream server, your advertising-flyer deliverer, your discount clothing-store calse associate, your indoor flea-market vendor, and your data-entry clerk. You may also know me as one of the Pamida's best customers. Or you may know me as the woman who dresses up in bunny ears every Easter and waves to cars from the balcony-porch of her apartment. For it's true, I am all those things."

A book release party was thrown Monday night at Kettle of Fish, a West Village bar that shares a Wisconsin heritage with The Onion. Tucked in the back corner of the tavern, the mind behind Jean, Maria Schneider, mingled alongside Onion staffers Joe Garden, Joe Randazzo, Seth Reiss, Todd Hanson, graphic artist Bob Fingerman, and the UK's #1 Friend of Jean, Peter Serafinowicz.  Jackie Harvey and Jim Anchower were no-shows; maybe they're too busy drafting their own manuscripts?   A Book of Jean's Own! is available now from St. Martin's Press.

RELATED

Tuesday
Aug102010

INSIDE WITH: CHRIS KELLY

Chris Kelly

By: Lucas Hazlett

Chris Kelly is the consummate comedic-renaissance man. He is a staff writer and director for The Onion News Network and is a contributing writer for The Onion's new show on IFC. He has penned and appeared in sketches for numerous sketch teams at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York, and has delivered monologues for the theater's flagship improv showcase, ASSSSCAT, in New York and Los Angeles. His newest show, "Oh My God, I Heard You're Dying," opens tomorrow at the UCBT-NY. It's a dark comedy that explores the social awkwardness that often follows a tragedy. I spoke with Chris about his new show and his comedic philosophy.

Tell us a little bit about "Oh My God, I Heard You're Dying." What is it about and how did you come up with it?
I don't know how I came up with it. The show is just a series of character monologues about people saying their final goodbyes to this old man who is dying and they all just ruin it. It's mostly just people being self-involved, inappropriate or trying to be overly jokey around death. I had been thinking about death a lot, so I thought I'd just use death because it's a serious subject and I just wanted to make it funny.

What is your comedic philosophy and how does it influence your approach when creating darker content?
I think anything is funny. I think the funny stuff is just the way people talk. I just like hearing people's conversations when they're not trying to be funny. I like people who have one crazy, gigantic flaw that they don't realize. I like dark comedy a lot. At The Onion that's obviously what we do. I really like mean comedy. Not mean for the sake of being mean, not like being mean to the victim, but mean to someone who deserves it.

What's an example of a sketch you've written that was mean in this way?
Well, one thing I wrote [for The Onion] a while ago for the election, which was super dark and mean, was a story about a gunman in a mall who killed a bunch of people in a swing state and ONN was trying to figure out how many Democrats and Republicans were killed -- Did Obama or McCain win the massacre?  I liked that a lot because it was mean but I felt it made a point. It was mean to how ridiculous the media is and how elections get and not mean to people who died in a mall getting shot.

So calling truth to power?
Sure. Put that in the headline. Chris Kelly calls truth to power [laughing]. If people say one thing about me it's that I call truth to power.

So, do you prefer this darker, meaner comedy to other types of comedy?
I do like weird, bizarre, crazy what-the-fuck-is-happening-on-stage-this-is-crazy-nonsense-but-it- works. I like that comedy, but I feel like it's never what I end up producing. I wrote a sketch a couple years ago that was sort of awkward, but I really liked this idea that people at work were doing this human knot, this trust exercise, and they were all getting together, all these coworkers, and as soon as it started one woman just had to get off her chest that she and the guy next to her were getting a divorce and so everybody had to work through this human knot slowly and awkwardly while slowly talking through "what are you going to do with the kids?" I like the idea of people bringing up things in awkward situations. I guess I like realistic comedy.

You've written a substantial amount of material for The Onion and UCB stage. What is your writing process?
90% not writing. 10% writing [laughs]. The process lately has been watching every single episode of television I can find, pacing around, eating everything in my apartment and being like "god damn I fucking hate writing!” and then finally writing. Sometimes I'll be motivated to do it. "Oh My God I Heard You're Dying” wasn't for anything. I had no deadline. I wrote the first draft of the script in a day, just finished it off. Obviously I punched it up and made everything better, but the format and all the characters stayed the same because I knew what I wanted.  That was a rare example of "I have no deadline" and "I have the motivation to write 30 pages." Usually it's just that I wait until the last possible moment and then write in complete duress and intense anger.

Is there a book, movie, television show, etc. that you can look at throughout history and are just pissed that you weren't the one who came up with it?  Or is there something that you find yourself constantly returning to?
Drama is usually the first thing I want to watch. Drama is oftentimes the first thing I want to write, too. I don't know. I love Six Feet Under [pauses] I'm getting so obvious!  [mocks self] I really like that show about death that occasionally has comedy in it. I'm getting so cliche!

Writing and directing aside, you've also been an accomplished performer and even had the enviable opportunity of delivering monologues at ASSSSCAT in both LA and NY. Is this something you see yourself doing more of in the future?
Stand-up, monologues and storytelling. That's what I want my next show at UCB to be, which I'm starting to write now, but again, I have no deadline so I'm mostly watching TV. Yesterday, I was going to start writing my one-man show and then I downloaded season four of Friday Night Lights.

2011. UCBEast. The UCB4 said that the new theater would focus more on stand-up and storytelling. Maybe that's the opportunity you need to do more?
I need to make a point of doing that more. Because I like doing that. I feel comfortable doing that. I loved doing ASSSSCAT... and I'd love to do it again.

OTHER ONN VIDEOS WRITTEN BY CHRIS

Oh My God, I Heard You're Dying premieres Wednesday 8/11 and runs again on 8/18 at the UCBT-NY.

--Lucas Hazlett is a comedy geek who improvises with anyone he can. He can be seen THURS, AUG 12 @ 8PM at The Peoples Improv Theatre with improv team Herschel.

Wednesday
Nov042009

News of the World

--Just in time for the release of Our Front Pages 21 Years of Greatness, Rectitude, and Moral Virtue from America's Finest News Source, a nice profile appeared in the NY Times on life at The Onion.

--Which leads to our next bitlet: we heard that Onion staffers were allegedly fielding LIFE-THREATENING THREATS over their could-be-construed-as-controversial "It's Gay to Smoke" video. Do you think The Onion went too far with the homoshaming?

--Blaine Kneece has captured The 2009 Andy Kaufman Award.

--The Raspberry Brothers are moving their show to the Knitting Factory. First installment is Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.

--Mindy Raf is looking to press an album and she needs your help/$$$.

--Nominations for The ECNY Awards are opening up soon. Get your keyboard fingers ready.

--NYC comedy maven JoAnn Grigioni has been promoted to Vice President of Talent at Comedy Central.

--FESTBEAT: NY Comedy Festival - NOW | NY Musical Improv Fest - THIS WEEKEND | Toronto SketchFest - NEXT WEEK

--The Internet is reporting The Flight of the Conchords' HBO show might be TOTALLY DUNZO.

--Were you wondering what the status was on the The East Village UCB Theatre? We're told that, "We should be open in the new year."

--Thomas Middleditch, Jason Mantzoukas and Lennon Parham blowing up big-screen steez in Splinterheads.

21 Years of Greatness, Virtue, and Moral Rectitude from America's Finest News Source

Wednesday
Oct142009

New Video Wednesday!

How to Be Bully Smart | Everything is Terrible

Sparhusen: Episode #1 | MyDamnChannel

 New Anti-Smoking Ads Warn Teens 'It's Gay to Smoke' | The Onion

Friday
Sep252009

Chicago Checklist

Photo by Elizabeth McQuern

Season Four of Impress These Apes started last week, and all of Chicago's comedy glitterati were there. This season offers the technological magic of live Web streaming, for those housebound and down. Watch all the contestant video clips online the day after, on the show's Web site.

Cameron Esposito, comic and editor of the pretty-new-and-already-bangin' blog Chilarious, got to chat with Marc Maron recently.

Speaking of bangin' blogs, The Daily Blank, a satire e-zine out of Chicago, began about five months ago and has been regularly churning out hilarious bits and baubles from some of Chicago's finest comedy writers. Check it out, and submit your own fine piece!

Chicago expat and general comedy superstar Matt Braunger is still slingin' his Comedy Central record, "Soak Up the Night", now in person and on vinyl!

Stand-up comic and Internet radio personality Sean Flannery wrote up a story about mistaken age identification that caused at least one person* to almost choke and die whilst eating grocery store sushi recently.

Former Bastion editor-cum-video editor virtuoso Elizabeth McQuern caught the Onion's Editor-in-Chief Joe Randazzo in digital format when he performed stand-up at Chicago Underground Comedy recently (of which McQuern is also a co-producer):

*--Kristy Mangel