Oops. A Publisher Apologizes For Being An April Fool
by Scott Schaefer
It’s always a risk to do an April Fool’s joke issue of any publication, and The B-Town Blog is no exception – as many of you know by now, yesterday’s edition was devoted to entirely fake “news” stories based in the Burien area (with the one exception of my birthday tribute to J.P. Patches, which was very, very serious).
Being a former full-time comedy writer, I must confess (and perhaps apologize) that it’s in my genes to try and have fun with stories and words. Growing up with a funny Dad who was always cracking jokes, I guess I became enamored with the rewards of making others laugh. Once I got my hands on my first Mad Magazine, I never looked back. In fifth grade I published my own attempt at a humorous newspaper (ripping off, er, inspired by Mad) and sold it to family members for 25-cents apiece. At Highline Community College, I edited a special April Fool’s edition of the Thunderword student newspaper and called it the Thundergag. I love writing fake news stories and think that sometimes there’s nothing funnier (can you tell I’m a fan of The Onion?). Even when I wrote and directed for “The Arsenio Hall Show” I printed my own ‘zine targeted at the small demographic of about seven other comedy writers. In between all these gigs I found time to do some TV work, yet now here I am, back doing the printed word.
And loving it.
In case you missed it, nine comedy bits were published yesterday (writing help came from Mark Neuman, Gina Bourdage and a former neighbor, Stefan Hovland, who all helped tremendously):
- BREAKING: Ex-Office Depot Space To House Strip Club
- EXCLUSIVE: B-Town Blog Interviews Laser-Pointing Culprit
- UPDATE: No Morton Today
- PHOTO: Vandals Knock Over Part Of â€œThe Passageâ€
- Burienâ€™s Little Theater To Perform All-Nude Musical
- BREAKING NEWS: Mayor Nickels Suffers Injury In Burien
- BREAKING: King County To Fence In North Highline Area
- City Of Burien To Impose 20% Tax On All Internet Use
- Highline Hysterical Society File: Burienâ€™s Forgotten Festival
The most rewarding aspect of publishing yesterday’s gag edition was the slew of Comments, emails and yes, even a couple of inquisitive voicemails – one from a local businessperson asking for more info on the “new strip club,” the other from a man whose business monitors the internet for “terrorist news” (he was very interested in the interview with the laser pointing culprit, and he found the story through searching the keywords “laser” and “airport”).
Here’s a short collection some of the best Comments:
Dona Forrester: “I hope this is an April Fools Joke also? This would be terrible for Burien!”
Christine: “Gosh I hope this is an April Fools joke too…yikes….empty space beats a strip joint any day.”
<<<“…some dude with artsy glasses and a girly ponytail starting screaming like he was having a seizure around 15:30 hours. He called 911 on his cute red iPhone, so now weâ€™re stuck here investigating. And I was just about to head down to The Tin Room for
K & D : you’re SO fortunate to have such dedicated public servants (sic)
Lisa B: “So the sculpture isn’t really down?”
luuuupus: “I, for one, like the new name and theme.”
Dave: “You suck at photoshop…” (EDITOR’S NOTE: I know, and I’m surprised my sucky job fooled anyone!)
too embarassed 2 say: “I didn’t fall for Google’s, or UW Daily’s, but then I saw this title in the RSS feeds, and for a second I was totally wondering…”
From a marketing perspective, yesterday’s prank issue has apparently become viral, as our daily traffic tripled, and is tracking very high today (yesterday and today’s traffic are the 2 right bars in the chart to the left). It appears that a lot of people are sending email links to the site.
If you’d like to, just click here and forward this date-specific URL via email so others can, um…enjoy it.
It’s also interesting to note that if you do a search for the stock symbol of Office Depot (ODP) on Google Finance, the top story in the upper right sidebar section of news stories is ours:
Perhaps the most intimidating response was a voicemail left early Thursday morning from a man named Morgan, with a company called “Global Incident Event,” which tracks “terrorist activity” on the internet. He wanted to know more about our interview with “Floyd the “laser culprit.” I called Morgan on the phone and said “April Fool’s!” and he admitted to forgetting what yesterday was when he read his news feed for the keywords “laser” and “airport.” Morgan apparently wans’t too hip to Pink Floyd lyrics, but several of his subscribers include numerous government intelligence agencies.
In conclusion, to everyone and anyone who was fooled by our issue – I am very, very sorry.
We’ll see again on April 1, 2010.