There’s one problem with the TED Talks series of videos and audio podcasts: They’re all too real. Even if you can’t necessarily make sense out of what the particular guest speaker for an episode is actually saying, you can pretty reliably assume that whatever he or she is saying makes sense in some grander scheme of things. Whether it’s a talk on the importance of play in adult life or the necessity of introverts, each and every presentation is there to inform as much as it’s there to entertain… and sometimes, that’s just a little bit more education than you might want at that particular moment.
Thankfully, the Onion is here to help with its just-announced new web series Onion Talks. Instead of a series of self-important lectures on topics big and small from celebrities, scientists and experts who know the many ways in which we’re not reaching our truest potential, Onion Talks will offer a series of self-important lectures on topics big and small from fake celebrities, fake scientists and fake experts who realize that lectures about the big topics can sometimes be a little too obscure, vague or big picture for most people’s comfort, and are prepared to offer pitch-perfect parodies of them in order to illustrate their ridiculousness.
Look at the teaser released by the Onion yesterday for proof. The initial two clips – A man earnestly saying that he truly believes that what he’s shown you is great and “in a few years, there’s no question, they’re going to transform our lives,” followed by another man confidently announcing that “social media is the driving force behind the new economy” – offer the kind of blanket statements that declare the importance of the subject without offering any detail or proof to back it up, and could fit into any TED Talk (That the actors portraying the characters look so like TED Talks presenters says a lot about both the series’ attention to detail and the weird familiarity of TED presenters). Then, the punchline to puncture the whole thing: A woman asking the audience with dramatic pauses “What…is… the biggest rock?” while standing in front of a giant screen asking the same question.
(The graphics in between clips parody TED’s multiple-screens that form their logo, but in addition to the screens, there are words floating across the screen: “Inspiring,” “Fascinating,” “Intelligent,” “Genius” and, somewhat less expected, “Sizzle” and “Heartworm.”)
The Onion describes the new web series as a series of “the most important ideas from the greatest thinkers on the planet,” adding that “no mind will be left unchanged.” Created by the Onion Digital Studios division – which has also produced Troublehacking, Horrifying Planet and the hilarious Sex House – the new series launches next Wednesday, October 17.