Onion Editor Shares Expertise on What’s Not Funny
Joe Randazzo is the former editor of The Onion, the world's most popular satirical newspaper, as well as former creative director of adultswim.com. Randazzo also performs stand-up and has appeared on NPR's This American Life, PBS's Charlie Rose, and MSNBC's Morning Joe. Randazzo was awarded the Burke Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse through the Arts by the College Historical Society of Trinity College Dublin in 2012. He is author of the book <i>Funny on Purpose.</i>
Question: Is anything beyond satire?
Joe Randazzo: I guess dead baby jokes are less funny to me now that I have a living baby, but we still make them. We still make them. You know I don’t think anything is… should ever really be off limits. I think it’s the… your take on it. It’s your angle on it. What you have to say about it that can be tasteful. You know I don’t believe in things being too soon. I just think if you’re making a joke to sort of cash in on what everybody is thinking and feeling and talking about at that moment, with no heart to it or no thought to it or no kind of like human empathy or understanding, then you’re just kind of like a buffoon, but you can still make the joke you know. I remember when the Balloon Boy thing was happening, however. I’m pretty active on Twitter and there were… This was at the time when I actually thought that a six year-old boy was up in this balloon, and I just had this image of this kid with like the wind rushing through his face like screaming for his mom in the balloon and it sort of made my gut wrench, and people were making jokes about it at that time and I sort of got upset at people, like maybe let’s wait and see if the kid is alive before we make jokes about him, but that’s the thing about this you know being able to communicate with so many people so quickly on Twitter, it’s like it’s the time has just compressed so much. You know like a Twitter hour is like a year in real life or something. That’s off the subject. But I don’t consider anything, any subject to be taboo. I think there is definitely taste that comes into play, and certainly at The Onion we don’t… You know there is nothing that we won’t talk about if we feel that we have a good joke for it with a good angle.
Recorded on November 30, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen
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