Mock News Flourishing Online With the writers strike in full force, and programs like The Daily Show on hold, comedic news continues to grow on the Web. The Huffington Post, Politico, and The Onion all have video components now — some of which are as polished as what you'd find on Comedy Central.
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Mock News Flourishing Online

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Mock News Flourishing Online

Mock News Flourishing Online

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Here is southern California the writers who've been on strike continue their talks with the Hollywood studios, and late night TV fans everywhere are still stuck with reruns of "The Daily Show" and Jay Leno. So some viewers are turning to the Web to get their dose of headline humor.

Our TV critic Andrew Wallenstein is one of them.

ANDREW WALLENSTEIN: Hey, this just in, everyone. Big wild fires are ravaging the Malibu area and - what, you already know? Oh, that's right. You'll have to forgive me for relaying stale news, but I'm falling way behind the curb without my primary news source in action, John Stewart. By the way, is that Bush guy still in office? Kidding.

You see, I have managed to maintain my humor-drenched info-diet with some help from the Internet. It's there where mock news is becoming a budding cottage industry. Even Stewart and Steven Colbert have robust Web sites, but that's where they recycle old material. To find the fresh stuff online, there are actually some online outlets known for hard news that aren't above the hardy-har-har variety.

There is,for instance, a site for political junkies that features a daily video commentary called Play Book TV that rips on about way headlines. There's also the blog empire The Huffington Post, which recently launched an entire site devoted to political humor called 23/6, a play on the phrase 24/7. No sacred cow escapes tipping there. Even Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton was treated to this faux attack ad featuring kids doing the mudslinging.

(Soundbite of faux ad)

Unidentified Child #1: There is medical evidence that they're not telling you about that confirms she is a man, not a woman.

Unidentified Child #2: So don't vote for her for president or you'll be sorry.

WALLENSTEIN: Now, that style is a little too ham-handed for my taste, which is why I'm loath to recommend any serious site that dabbles in humor. Comedy is best left to the masters, which is why I'm highly recommending the humor site created by The Onion, whose tongue-in-cheek newspapers may be the most consistently funny media out there.

So this should come as no surprise. The Onion translates really well to online video. In fact, I dare you not to laugh at this satire of one of those Sunday morning roundtable discussions, here devoted to some unusual theories on how to help the crisis in Darfur.

(Soundbite of Onion video)

Unidentified Man #1: I have here an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week that says we need to hold Gallup fundraising events right in Darfur.

Unidentified Man #2: Set up tents and buffet tables in Darfur, have the celebrities come down there and eat and...

Unidentified Man #3: These tents have to be transparent so that the people of Darfur can stand on the perimeter, look in and see all the hard work that people are doing on their behalf.

Unidentified Man #4: Right. Well, and instead of a ball, a benefit concert, which could be loud enough to drown out the sounds of gunfire.

Unidentified Man #5: And the crying for the starvation.

Unidentified Man#6: Once Darfurians are...

WALLENSTEIN: See as I'm incapable of digesting news unless it's larded with heavy doses of humor, The Onion has become my CNN overnight, which is not to say I don't miss the personalities of Stewart or Colbert.

But therein lies the risk of sitting on the sidelines for even a moment in this fast-paced media world. When the writers strike blows over, there's no guarantee I'm coming back to TV.

COHEN: Andrew Wallenstein is deputy editor of the Hollywood Reporter.

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