With bombastic anchors and inane talking heads pontificating on the news of the day, cable news shows are unintentionally hilarious.
Now there will be two new ones that are funny on purpose.
The Onion, the humor newspaper and website, is taking its satire to the small screen with not one but two new shows: “Onion SportsDome,” premiering tomorrow on Comedy Central, and “Onion News Network,” premiering on Jan. 21 on IFC.
amNewYork spoke to executive producers Will Graham and Julie Smith about the shows.
What is the concept behind “Onion News Network”?
Will Graham: The concept of this network is that it’s the most powerful cable news network in the universe — more obnoxious and pretentious than CNN, and more aggressive and pandering and in-your-face than Fox.
And the sports show?
WG: I think the thing that’s most exciting for us was, sports and sports media is this gigantic, multitrillion-dollar industry — which makes it really great and really fun ground for comedy.
Why launch two shows so close to each other?
WG: It’s part of our takeover plan of all the existing media channels. Eventually we’re going to have 36 different shows on 36 different channels that’ll launch at the same time. [laughs]
Where did you find your anchors and reporters?
Julie Smith: We’ve tried to hire a lot of real ... anchors. For the “Onion News Network,” our lead anchor is Suzanne Sena and she was a Fox News anchor. She’s able to deliver the exact pitch-perfect tone. We always try to mix in real reporters and news anchors with actors to give it that authenticity.
Are news people funny?
WG: No, I think they’re so incredibly unfunny that it circles back around and becomes hilarious.
Who do you see as the shows’ main competitors?
WG: I think for the “Onion News Network,” our main competitor we see is Fox and MSNBC. CNN is not really much of a competitor anymore. For the sports show, it’s really ESPN. That’s what we’re aiming for: to compete with them and eventually replace them. We want to have 36 networks just like them.
Are there any other “Onion” shows in the works?
WG: No, I think right now we’ve been focused on these two projects, and we’re just focused on them and the launch and getting through these first seasons.
JS: And the Prison Channel.
WG: Right, and we’re launching a prison channel. We think it’s the last great unexploited audience.
• “Onion SportsDome” premieres on Comedy Central Tuesday at 10:30 p.m.
• “Onion News Network” premieres on IFC on Jan. 21 at 10 p.m.