Whenever I’m feeling down, I do one of three things to get out of my slump: exercise, talk with friends, or listen to the Onion Radio News.
“An airport security pig finds concealed truffles!” announces ORN’s ace reporter, Doyle Redland. “Airport Swine Unit Specialist Kevin Hannah couldn’t be prouder of his partner, Mr. Snout,” the story continues. Apparently the “highly trained hog” has found a batch of truffles hidden in luggage en route to Europe. Sergeant Hannah says it’s all just part of a day’s work.
“Any traveler tries to conceal truffles on his person,” Boston accented Hannah warns in the actuality, “you know, we are going to be there, and we’re going to find him!”
The team hopes to someday flush out a terrorist bomb, Redland concludes, “though to pull it off, the explosive device would have to be slathered in truffles. Doyle Redland for the Onion Radio News!”
At a time when so much on line humor is about being snarky or trashing people, ORN somehow finds a way to be laughing-out-loud funny without being mean. The service succeeds in this by making whimsical fun of nobody in particular, just mythological figures, crash test dummies, “area” women and men, and recently deceased animals, often with salutation names.
“If there’s a Ferret Heaven, an area woman’s dead Ferret is in it!” Redland disclosed in an April 15, 2008 exclusive. The breaking story boils down to an interview with former ferret owner Kelly Isgold, who says that if a ferret heaven exists, “her recently deceased pet Mr. Slinky has been given a gold halo” and a full pass.
“I just imagine that he’s up there spraying musk on Saint Peter’s robe and getting into trouble,” Isgold says.
But no, interrupts Doyle. “This just in. Mr. Slinky’s soul has been sent to giant prairie dog heaven by mistake, where he will be tormented for all eternity!”
Pass the coleslaw
To be fair, science, the economy, and international politics all get their share of coverage on ORN. There’s a feature on a “Nervous Afghan” who thinks that every American with a fake beard works for the CIA, the prospect that North Korea may drop a nuclear bomb on itself, and a new report released by the Department of Sides and Garnishes indicating that 85 percent of all U.S. coleslaw goes uneaten.
But I like the animal stories best.
“Wall Street analysts are giving credit to today’s surge in trading volume to an especially loud opening bell rung by an escaped chimpanzee wielding a large hammer,” begins a July news item . While brokers appreciated the stock boost, some were “privately alarmed” that an escaped zoo animal could get access to the New York Stock Exchange. “We all remember what happened when a pigeon got in here,” trader Ben Morganthal is quoted as saying. “We got lucky this time.”
But seriously folks
Every now and then, of course, the critters offer a social message, usually of the libertarian variety. “Abstinence only education ruined by trip to the zoo,” was the headline of the day for July 11. The parents of 14 year old Lily Dirksen have always dutifully kept the girl out of sex education classes, it seems. But all that virtue was undone by the sight of humping giraffes. “Though Mr. Dirksen has consulted the Bible about the problem,” Doyle concludes, “he says that there is absolutely nothing in it about accidentally letting your kids see a couple of masturbating wolverines.”
According to its About page, the Onion Radio News “has been the most highly regarded broadcast news source in the world since visionary Onion publisher T. Herman Zweibel made the bold move in 1922 to shut down the popular Onion Telegraph News and focus on the then embryonic medium of radio.” What a visionary—then, and now.