February 8, 2008

Tough Room

This week we bring you backstage with comedy writers at The Onion. They start with over 600 potential headlines for their fake-news newspaper each week, and over the course of two days, in the very tough room that is their editorial conference room, they select 16 to go in the paper. Plus other people speaking their minds in very tough rooms.

This dry erase board in The Onion's conference room lists stories they hope to do in future issues.


Thanksgiving 2002, the Ohm family's dinner conversation turned to the recent terrorist attacks. Alexis Ohm, the youngest daughter, made a comment that in retrospect she admits was probably the wrong thing to say with her conservative, military-veteran dad at the table...that Osama bin Laden was hot. (5 minutes)
Act One

Make 'em Laff

Host Ira Glass spends time in perhaps the toughest room on earth, the editorial meeting at the satirical newspaper, The Onion, where there's one laugh for every 100 jokes. (17 minutes)

Act Two

Bar Car Prophesy

Writer Rosie Schaap tells the story of how she ingratiated herself into the adult society of the Metroliner commuter train bar car as a teenager. She would cast Tarot card prophesies for riders, in exchange for beer. This was fun and made her feel grown-up, until the cards showed her something she wasn't really ready to see. (12 minutes)

This story will be included in Rosie's upcoming collection of stories, entitled Drinking With Men.
Act Three

Mission: Impossible

Producer Jane Feltes spends a day with two young Mormons, on mission to possibly the least receptive environment they could find...the Upper West Side of Manhattan. (9 minutes)
Act Four

Tough News Room

Malcolm Gladwell is a best-selling author and famous journalist at the New Yorker magazine. But not always. Witness his story—which was recorded live, on stage at the Moth theater in New York—about his first job in journalism, and how terrifying it was. (12 minutes)

The Moth is a place where real people come onstage and tell true and tall tales.

Malcolm Gladwell is the author most recently of Blink.