INTERVIEW: 9 Mildly Amusing Questions for Scott Dikkers – Founding Editor of The Onion


I started reading The Onion when I was in college circa 2000 after I saw a dormmate had printed out copies of his favorite articles from the Internet and taped them to his door. When I saw that Founding Editor Scott Dikkers was coming to Dallas I decided to contact him via Twitter.

Needless to say the site has made a big impact as a pioneer of online publishing and in the realm of comedic satire. Before the Internet, Scott started the original hard copy version from which The Onion evolved, among other creative things. After a little ego stroking, as well as the well-timed fact Dikkers recently published a book spilling his audience-building secrets, he agreed to give us some insight into some questions. I prepared these question in anticipation of Scott's upcoming keynote talk at Digital Summit Dallas on December 5th of which we will be reporting on in real time via Twitter. He was kind enough to answer my questions via email.


ILID: What’s your philosophy when it comes to comedic writing?

SCOTT: I don't know if I have a philosophy. I just do it. I wrote about book about how to do it ("How To Write Funny"), but as far as my philosophy, let me just bullshit my way through this answer and we'll see if it sounds good. I think comedy writing should be funny. That's really my only philosophy. That said, not everything we write is going to be funny. That's the sad truth whether you're a professional or an amateur. Because comedy is subjective and largely a crapshoot.

One of the ways professionals do it is, they have the skills to know which material might actually make people laugh, so they put that material out there with confidence and succeed more than they fail. That's the best you can hope for.

ILID: In brief, what’s the creative process for you and your team to come up with new and innovative ways to jaw drop?

SCOTT: Well, I don't know if we're dropping any jaws, but the process is simple: come up with a ton of ideas and then chose the best ones by assessing them based purely on merit. This is difficult to do, but worth it to find the best jokes. Again, this is all in "How To Write Funny."

ILID: In your experience, when it comes to ClickHole [another online satirical magazine by The Onion), who gets triggered more, Leftists or Right Wingers?

SCOTT: I can't say from ClickHole specifically, but in my experience people on the Right are triggered far more often in general. This could have something to do with the fact that all satirists are on the Left.

ILID: Are you and Adam Ford or Seth Dillon (founder and new owner of The Babylon Bee) buds, or do you just do the passing/knowing head nod while passing at conferences?

SCOTT: I've actually never met them! I don't like to leave my house.

ILID: They say you can’t “cuck the Zuck,” but is Mark Zuckerberg going to kick The Onion and ClickHole off Facebook for being too funny?

SCOTT: He might! I don't have any inside intel on this. But I do know he's a fan, and did want to work with The Onion instead of against it at one point.

ILID: What’s a satirical publisher to do in a post sense of humor, low information, world where people and newscasters take themselves too seriously?

SCOTT: I don't believe we live in a post-sense-of-humor world. People are always low information, leaders are always corrupt and incorrigible. There's never a shortage of terrible, stupid things in the world to make fun of. So, what am I going to do? I'm going to keep making fun of it all. I do it on my website, I do it in books ("Trump's America: Buy This Book and Mexico Will Pay for It" and "Welcome to the Future Which Is Mine" (by (not) Elon Musk) and everywhere else I can.

ILID: What are your top three favorite articles that have appeared on The Onion of the last five years?

SCOTT:

"‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens"
"Trump Bestows Medal Of Honor On John McCain’s Tumor"
"Cryptic Long John Silver’s Campaign Just Says ‘You Are The Bait Now’"

ILID: Are you a Texas barbeque fan? Brisket, ribs, sausage, or something else?

SCOTT: All of the above. What do you think I am, crazy? Reminds me of one of my favorite Onion headlines of all time: "Jewish Texans Commemorate Holocaust... Texas-Style!"

ILID: What can we look forward to in your talk at Digital Summit Dallas?

SCOTT: I'll tell some funny stories about how The Onion build its enormous fan base. People can look forward to a few laughs and a dose of inspiration for their own brand-building efforts.

Thank you for your time Scott!

Get Scott's recent book Outrageous Marketing: The Story of The Onion and How To Build a Powerful Brand with No Marketing Budget  on Amazon

Hear Scott speak on December 5th at Digital Summit Dallas. Use LIVEDALLAS for $50 off. Advanced registration pricing ends this Friday, 11/16.