BANFF, Alta. – Steve Hannah, the president and CEO of The Onion, America’s famous news satire organization, insists he isn’t funny.
But attendees at the Banff World Media Festival may beg to differ.
Moving up to fill the spot originally reserved for Larry King at the festival on Tuesday, Hannah appeared on stage dressed in an old-fashioned suit, complete with a bow tie. He kept the audience in stitches relying on the art of pantomime and didn’t say a word until the end of his 27-minute presentation.
With Depression-style movie music playing in the background, Hannah used large screens displaying subtitles for his schtick, similar to what you would have seen during the silent-movie era.
Most of the messaging lauded the journalistic purity of The Onion and was interspersed with video snippets of faux stories from The Onion News Network (ONN).
Hannah would take breaks, sitting in an easy chair to read the paper and make phone calls.
The Onion’s satirical articles comment on current events, both real and fictional. Much of its humour depends on presenting everyday events as newsworthy and by playing on commonly used phrases, as in the headlines “Drugs Win Drug War” or “Basketball Star Blames God for Defeat”.
In a nod to The Onion’s neighbours to the north came the video “Justin Bieber Revealed To Be 51-Year-Old Pedophile In Disguise” and the headline “Perky Canada has own government, laws.”
Hannah’s only words to the audience came as he was about to leave the stage and said, “Take off, eh.”