The world of internet comedy just got a little more meta with today's launch of the The Final Edition, a parody news site that commemorates the supposed death of The New York Times. Helmed by former editor-in-chief of Spy magazine Tony Hendra, The Final Edition looks pretty impressively like a more rickety version of the Times website, with most of the sections crossed out. An editor's note explains: "In this edition of the New York Times, our usual 14 verticals (known for 141 years as 'sections') have been collapsed to 3. The reason is a marked lack of reporters and hence reportage." The new verticals are respectively World/U.S./SoHo; Busy, Busy Day; and Art, Life, Whatever.
Surrounding the lead image, an animated gif of the Times building in flames, are a lot of stories about the lead image. Times editors have evidently torched the building for insurance money, the public editor explains how they justify the arson and a mock Timescast video shows an intern interview Times editor-in-chief Bill Keller, played by Hendra himself, conducting a Skype call with the final foreign correspondent. How many jokes can you possibly make about the death of the New York Times?
The all-star list of contributors is reason enough to pay attention to The Final Edition. With a masthead topped by former chief writer for the Daily Show Steve Bodow as well as vets from Saturday Night Live and Real Time with Bill Maher, the site stands to compete with funny juggernauts like The Onion and Funny or Die, at least in the comedy community. This is also not Hendra's first foray into media parody. Past projects include the dead tree Not The New York Times, My Wall Street Journal, and Off the Wall Street Journal, as well as a credit in This Is Spinal Tap and an editorship at National Lampoon. Inevitably, the site's FAQ points out in brief why the site is a good idea:
The supposedly coolest medium around - the Internet – is the lamest when it comes to funny. 24/7 it’s dudes clutching their testicles, cats playing guitar, and toddlers channeling Charlie Sheen. But the world’s in an uproar, the planet’s melting and someone’s trying to buy your country. People want smart jokes not fart jokes. The hunger is out there. But no one’s feeding it.
Self-described "smart jokes" in today's edition include:
- A spot-on pastiche of a Thomas Friedman column drawing attention to the fact that Friedman sources most of his "international reporting" on his way to and from the airport.
- An almost worn-out but well-written explanation about why the Times' demise is nobody's fault.
- A relatable essay addressing the horror of your mom joining Facebook.
- A report on Steven Spielberg's latest Holocaust-based Oscar bait.
- A perhaps kind of accurate article that were Islam an actual nation, it would be more powerful than the United States.
- The idea for a New York Times Adult Magazine featured in this in-house ad: