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Home » Archives » February 2008 » Sweet Onion
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02/16/2008: Sweet Onion

There's something very funny in the latest (Feb. 14) issue of The Onion. There's a small front-page article titled "Conference Call Going Awesome." It's funny in the Onion "ordinary events reported as news" mold. Then, inside the paper, there is a second item, tucked into the "News in Brief" section titled, "Employees On Other End Of Conference Call Just Want It To Be Over."

Hee! Brilliant.

One huge reason that this works is that the first part stands alone. I once had some bosses who told me that they loved it when they saw network executives start to criticize a weak joke, only to pull back when they discovered that there were funny callbacks to that joke later in the script. It always seemed to me that it would be much better if the first joke WASN'T weak! Wouldn't you love it MORE if the execs had no call to worry about that first joke? It should stand on its own, the way the front-page Onion piece does.

Callbacks, jokes which reference an earlier joke, can only bear the strength of being funny on their own. They can't retroactively fix the first joke.

A clue that this is happening in your script is that you find yourself reading faster to get to the callback. Be aware of it.

Lunch: spaghetti with marinara


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