Monday, October 18, 2010

All Most Humor-Enthusiasts Will Want To Read Again: The Onion Presents Our Front Pages!

The Good: Consistently funny
The Bad: A bit expensive, Not a complete anthology of the magazine.
The Basics: An amusing collection, The Onion Presents Our Front Pages is a good coffeetable humor book.

Last year, while perusing books at Barnes & Noble, my wife and I got mired in the humor section (her idea, not mine!). While she went through a postcard book filled with one-line riffs, I picked up The Onion Presents Our Front Pages (1988 – 2008). This is my type of humor: liberal political humor and delicious social commentary. The book itself is a coffeetable style book with hard bindings and glossy pages throughout. It is exactly what the title suggests it is going to be: covers of The Onion Magazine from 1988 through 2008.

For those unfamiliar with it, The Onion is a fake newspaper published every two weeks that looks like it is reporting real news, but is actually packed with hilarious articles that lampoon the United States government and society. This collection is the front pages to the humor newspaper presented just large enough that every article or caption on the front page may be read. So, for example, readers can enjoy the headline (and most of the accompanying article) “Saddam Hussein Steps Down Following Sex Scandal” (115) from the August 13 – 19, 1998 issue of The Onion. Or there's the classic “Clinton Vaguely Disappointed By Lack Of Assassination Attempts” (163) in which President Clinton allegedly discusses with the newspaper how disappointed he was he was never shot at.

The book is very simple, containing only the front pages of each issue and those looking for the full articles might be disappointed that the book does not contain something like a cd-rom with the actual issues to read all of the jokes. But what the book illustrates perfectly is how consistently hilarious The Onion actually is, even in the diciest of times (their coverage after the September 11, 2001 attacks did not flinch from containing the same sarcasm and wit that earlier issues did).

And while the magazine is usually preoccupied with political humor, cultural humor about American culture and business are also given front-page attention, like on the 20 – 26 April, 2000 issue which announced “Federal Judge Rules Parker Brothers Holds Monopoly Monopoly” (148) above a picture of the Monopoly man in front of a high court. In fact, one of the bits that illustrated the sharpest sense of actual wit came in a front-page sidebar titled “New Fox Sitcom Outrageous.” Capturing the voice of FOX advertising perfectly, The Onion wrote “As a recent FOX commercial for ‘Sweet Georgia Washington’ announced, ‘This Sunday night, the federal government is about to get hit…below the beltway’” (87). “The Onion” has a great satirical voice.

The Onion Presents Our Front Pages is actually a wonderful humor collection and it does what it promises, but it leaves readers wanting a bit more. The inability to turn the page and get the rest of the article one has begun is a bit of a disappointment. Those who made this anthology seem to have anticipated this and for the money these front pages cost the reader, we are granted a unique-to-this-book collection of timelines for each year in the anthology with The Onion’s take on history at the time.

Anyone who wants something to amuse themselves with for a few hours and reminisce about Clinton and Bush’s Americas without having to get bogged down by substantial faux-journalism will find this a great gift and a great way to kill some time.

For other books of humor or satire, please check out my review of When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris by clicking here!


For other book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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