"The Onion" Contributors

"The Onion" Contributors

Mike & Jilly

Toronto , ON

Male, 27

Michael MacDonald and Jilly Gagnon edit and write for Canada's Pre-Eminent News Source, The Smew (smew.com), a Canadian satirical website. Michael contributes weekly to The Onion while Jilly contributes to McSweeney's. Of course we work other jobs to actually make rent.

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19 Questions

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Last Answer on May 17, 2012

Best Rated

How do you know if you're "funny"?

Asked by Janice381 over 9 years ago

Jilly: A lot of the time it's really hard to know when you're funny - that's why it's super important to have a group of other funny people who you trust to read over your material. That said, a good litmus test is going back to your material after a short break - if it makes you laugh out loud, you've got something right - you spend so much time labouring over "just the right joke" that it's hard to know for certain whether you've actually found it.

How did you get selected to write for The Onion? Any tips for those of us trying to do the same?

Asked by BarneyB over 9 years ago

Mike: After writing a dissertation on the political relevance of satirical news, I applied for an editorial internship at the company. Upon completion of the internship, I started to submit headlines each week. Jilly: Certain outlets want to hear from you, and you have to beat down their doors. Others, like The Onion, don't have an open submissions policy. Harassing them is just going to annoy.

Was there ever an Onion article that you thought went too far? As in, it really stepped over the line in terms of taste/decency?

Asked by Gambit1 over 9 years ago

Jilly: Quite honestly, it's hard to offend comedy writers - you look at things not as what offends you, more as what might offend more people than it's worth for the joke. That said, I think the Onion has always been careful to push the envelope without just going for the shock-effect. I think their response to the 9/11 attacks is a perfect example of that.

Who are some of the more famous Onion alumni?

Asked by PaulBB over 9 years ago

Mike: Famous Onion alumni, eh? I'm not too sure to be honest.

Are the writing staff members at The Onion super-competitive with one another, or is it more team-oriented/collaborative?

Asked by Christine over 9 years ago

Mike: I started out by just writing headlines. Given that they sort through hundreds of headlines each week and only pick a few, it’s not easy getting your jokes in the paper. As for staff writers being competitive, I really can’t say seeing as though I write all of my material (Canadian Voices and sometimes National News Highlights) from the confines of my bedroom.

Given the success of The Onion, The Daily Show, and Colbert Report, do you think satirical news is going to continue to grow and usurp more traditional news outlets as people's primary place to watch the news?

Asked by Howiezowie over 9 years ago

Mike: This question makes me want to run off to the library and put together a proper response. But basically, yes. Jilly: Frankly, I think lots of people would be better informed if they turned to satire than some of the traditional outlets currently in operation.

Does The Onion pay well, relative to competitors? Specifics would be appreciated :)

Asked by Silba over 9 years ago

Mike: I don't have too much insight into what a staff member would earn at The Onion. As for contributors like myself, you get paid for what gets published. As for competitors, I'd be hard pressed to list other satirical news outlets that pay, with the exception of The Smew (smew.com) of course.