A Viral Video Takedown of Public Radio (in 5 Acts)

    by Todd Bieber
    November 21, 2010

    i-72986c236a2a43d9a493739251b37093-mediashift_social publicmedia small.jpg

    "It's our pledge drive here on NPR and we have a 20 minute field recording of a Toomlooku, which is a Bosnian instrument." - Patton Oswalt
    Click here to read the entire series


    Why is NPR such an easy target for comedy bits and video parodies? It doesn’t take a regular listener of Science Friday to figure it out. They’re a bunch of mega-nerds.

    With every subtle use of alliteration, every time Robert Siegel says “draconian,” and each transitional upright bass interlude, they slap a big fat “kick me” sign in the middle of their own backs.

    Want to know the five reasons comedians love to hate public radio? As Ira Glass would say, stay with us.


    Act I: Hearing Absurdly Perfect Voices

    God do their voices sound good. (Ira Glass is the exception.) If we stopped absorbing the content of their reporting and just listened to their silky baritones and rich tenors, we might mistake them for come-ons. YouTube personality Liam Kyle Sullivan gives us a peek into the people behind the voice.

    Act II: Attack of the Pledge Drive

    We all dread those never-ending, shame-inducing pleas for our hard earned $20.00. Funny or Die explores how NPR stations use guilt to get us to pay their salaries. (WARNING: Explicit language; not safe for work!)

    Act III: Inane Topics in Soothing Tones

    It seems like public radio hosts could talk about the sleep patterns of box turtles for days if we allowed them, but we all just really want to hear Terry Gross talk dirty. (Right? I’m not alone here am I?) Unless your name is Francis Davis, this classic SNL sketch is as close as we’ll ever get.

    And we can’t forget Betty White’s recent contribution.

    Act IV: Stop the Music!

    If I ever see a band billed: “As Featured in NPR Segues,” I will run away, fast and far. Here, the always hilarious Patton Oswalt dissects the music of NPR for us (fast forward to minute 2:00 in this clip):

    Patton Oswalt – Man Without a Country
    Read Patton Oswalt’s biography Watch Patton Live at the New York Comedy Festival Find more from this comedian in the Shop.

    Act V: Those Pretentious Listeners

    Public radio fans are the worst. I should know, I am one. From my colleagues at UCB Comedy:

    House-Sittin’: NPR Battle UCBcomedy.com
    Watch more comedy videos from the twisted minds of the UCB Theatre at UCBcomedy.com


    Got a favorite viral public media spoof? Tell us about it in the comments.

    Todd Bieber writes and directs videos, mostly comedy and documentary, or some combination of the two. He is currently Director of Content and Production for Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy. Previous to this he worked at the Onion News Networks as Footage Coordinator, occasional Director of Photography, and a freelance Contributing Writer during their Peabody Award Winning year. His work has been featured in a bunch of film festivals including Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, and AFI. His various viral videos have been watched over 13 million times and have been featured on the New York Times’ website, Entertainment Weekly’s website, Huffington Post, and his mom’s Facebook Wall.

    Tagged: funny or die humor npr parody pledge drive public media 2.0 saturday night live upright citizens brigade viral video youtube

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