Interview with Newsbiscuit
Author of NewsBiscuit: 15 Years Of Typos
Launched 2006 by John O’Farrell, with the noble aims of eradicating global poverty, creating a lasting peace in the Middle East and providing a daily dose of humour to bored people at work. Since then, after many cups of tea and plenty of biscuits, we are confident that George. W. Bush would agree – ‘Mission Accomplished’.
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Who or what is NewsBiscuit?
- NewsBiscuit is often described as 'Britain's answer to The Onion'.
Although, strictly speaking, The Onion isn't a question.
It's a satirical online newspaper which has been running for 15 years. In internet years that's about 30 dog years or 210 human years. NewsBiscuit is Britain's first satirical newspaper. It was set up by British comedian and comedy writer John O'Farrell to provide an outlet for new comedy writers.
It's a very democratic institution, run entirely by volunteers and accepting articles from literally anybody - as long as they're funny.
Are there any topics you won't cover?
- It's a satirical site, so we try to pick worthy targets. There are sometimes debates among the writers about whether a particular story goes too far or addresses a subject which is too recent or too 'close to home'.
It's often said that comedy = tragedy + distance, and that certainly applies with NewsBiscuit - we're pretty ruthless when it comes to Ancient Rome. That Nero was a right bastard.
What's the format of your stories?
- NewsBiscuit publishes three main categories of writing:
- Full-length spoof news stories (approx. 250-400 words) – we publish one a day
- Shorter news-in-brief spoof news stories (approx. 80-130 words) – we publish two a day during the week, one a day at the weekend
- One-liner ticker headlines that run on a loop on our home page – we publish four or five a day
What's your proudest boast?
- Possibly a story about Mike Tyson having a sex change, which was picked up by a few news outlets as a true story and went viral:
Really, every time somebody writes in and says we made their day is a boost. Comedy writers are as narcissistic as any artist - we love a bit of feedback, and it's lovely to know you've perked up the nation.
Who is this book aimed at? Do you have a particular demographic?
- It's comedy - it works for every demographic.
Possibly wouldn't be appreciated by senior politicians or heads of state. If Donald Trump is your uncle I'd buy him something else this Christmas.
Otherwise, it's the ideal gift. Did we mention it would make a great gift?
Looking for a Xmas stocking-filler? Or a good book to take to the loo? Why not buy ’NewsBiscuit: 15 Years of Typos’. This humble collection of stories is the culmination of years of frantic scribbling and three minutes of careful editing.
‘Five stars? I thought I was reviewing a toaster’ – Amazon Reviewer
‘Although NewsBiscuit remains proud to have been Britain’s first daily news satire website, I am forced to admit that in the years that followed, others may have come along. Yeah, those bastards totally copied my idea of copying The Onion.’ John O’Farrell
‘All true’ – D.Trump
All profits from the book go directly to charity. We are delighted to support ‘Arts Emergency’ the award-winning mentoring charity and support network (https://www.arts-emergency.org/) helping young people get a fair start in arts and humanities. And ‘English Pen’ – one of the world’s oldest human rights organisations, championing the freedom to write and read around the word (https://www.englishpen.org/)
Hundreds of writers have contributed to the making of this irreverent book – which Mr. O’Farrell’s lawyers were keen to make very clear.