‘Onion’ journalists talk satire at Penn

The Daily Pennsylvanian
February 25, 2010

Joe Garden along with Chris Pauls of "The Onion" speak at the Kelly Writers House on Thursday evening.

Jennifer Liao
The Daily Pennsylvanian

"We are very aloof," Chris Pauls declared, causing the crowd to chuckle.

Although the predicted snowstorm had started outside, the front room at the Kelly Writers House was packed Thursday evening when Joe Garden, features editor at The Onion, and his fellow writer Chris Pauls came to speak about satirical journalism.

The event was made possible by Penn lecturer Anthony DeCurtis, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine.

"I didn't think he would do it," DeCurtis said of Gardenís decision to visit Penn. "He's used to speaking in big auditoriums."

"The Onion has done a lot to shape the sensibility of our time," he concludes before turning the microphone over to Garden and Pauls.

The presentation opened with Garden detailing a fictitious history of the Wisconsin-based publication. A multimedia powerpoint accompanied the talk and flashed humorous headlines that had the audience roaring with laughter at some of the most significant issues of the past two decades. The headlines included "King of Pop Dead at Age 12" and "Black Guy Asks Nation for Change."

Garden, a University of Wisconsin–Madison dropout, first got his foot in the door at The Onion when the editor noticed the tongue-in-cheek signs Garden posted in the windows at the liquor store where he worked, he explained.

After 17 years at the online magazine, Garden seemed comfortable using humor in his everyday speech as quotes from past issues of The Onion peppered his answers to audience inquires.

"They were quick on their feet," College student Becky McClain said.

As a testament to this, Garden offered up recipes for biscuits and sausage gravy when an audience member tested his claim, "Ask me anything."