J-Source’s Rhiannon Russell caught up with The Onion’s features editor Joe Garden, in town for the satirical paper’s Toronto launch, to chat about Canada, what makes it funny, and what’s in store for the Canuck edition.

J-Source’s Rhiannon Russell caught up with The Onion’s features editor Joe Garden, in town for the satirical paper’s Toronto launch, to chat about Canada, what makes it funny, and what’s in store for the Canuck edition.

Torontonians – your weekly reads just got a whole lot funnier.

Satirical newspaper The Onion and its sister publication The A.V. Club have hit the city. This is the paper’s first foray out of the United States, where it’s been published in major cities for about two decades.

As part of a partnership with the Toronto Star, in which the Star assumes advertising and publishing responsibilities, The Onion is distributed every Thursday, and is available for free in about 600 boxes across Toronto, centred around college and university campuses.

At the newspaper’s launch party, a crowd consisting largely of stylish 20- and 30-somethings sipped drinks, mingled and admired the table centrepieces – a pile of onions spray painted silver – under the orange glow of lights at the Drake Hotel.

DJs Jay Ferguson (Sloan) and Justin Peroff (Broken Social Scene) favoured old-school hip hop and alternative music. Headlines flashed on several wall-mounted TVs: “Perky ‘Canada’ has its own government, laws,” “Dollar bill on floor sends Wall Street into frenzy,” “Christ getting in shape for second coming.”

Joe Garden, The Onion’s  41-year-old features editor, was also there, dressed in a black suit, purple tie, and wearing thin-rimmed oval glasses.

I sat down with Garden before the event began. He set his beer on the table and chomped hungrily on potato chips. The last thing he’d eaten was a bagel at the airport in New Jersey hours earlier.

Garden’s been at The Onion for 18 years. “I’ve crawled my way up to features editor,” he said, miming the climb of an invisible ladder.

Garden brainstorms ideas for sections including “American Voices” (soon to be “Canadian Voices” in Toronto, he says), and assigns stories to writers. Right now, the Toronto paper is the same as the U.S. paper.

Garden is unsure if they’ll tailor the Toronto edition with Canadian news and politics. “I think that remains to be seen,” he said, “We have to kind of ease into that.” There were some funny writers here, though, that he hopes will write for him.

I asked him what he thinks of Canada, as the headline “Man from Canada acts like he’s not cold” moved across the TV screens.

“Your prime minister is like George Bush, only he’s the Canadian version and a little bit smarter,” Garden said, “Toronto’s mayor is insane.”

He adds that he’s very excited the newspaper is now international: “Toronto is a great city. Montreal can suck it!” Garden feigns shock, like he didn’t mean for that to slip out. “Don’t put that in.”

With print readership declining, and critics declaring the death of print, it’s an interesting time for an expansion.

“We are, at heart, a print publication,” Garden said. The Onion’s website is a collection of stories from the print edition and videos from The Onion News Network, which Garden calls “the baby of the family.”

Though Garden’s not familiar with Toronto’s other weeklies, he seemed confident The Onion will bring something new to the table.

“Satire is a good way to process information,” he said. “It can be true without being accurate.”

[node:ad]

All photos are courtesy of Pixperience.ca