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News & Media Mentions

Distinguished Lecture Series speaker and Onion.com founder Scott Dikkers knows how to write funny and build brands

10/04/21

Comedy empire creator will talk about building a world-renowned brand, fake news, marketing, and a work culture of honesty and creative freedom

Scott Dikkers made a business out of mocking popular culture and producing news satire in creating the world’s first humor website TheOnion.com and helping establish the Onion newspaper. Patrons can attend a talk by this comedy empire-founder on Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Shannon Hall at Memorial Union as part of the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Distinguished Lecture Series (DLS) Committee’s lecture series.  

During the talk, called “The Funny Story Behind Funny Stories,” Dikkers will share his story of building a world-renowned brand with almost no marketing budget and developing a creative culture of brutal honesty and freedom. 

The Onion began as a small campus publication in 1988 in Madison, Wis., created by University of Wisconsin-Madison students Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson. Dikkers began his involvement with The Onion by creating cartoons for the first few issues and helping the students name the publication. He says that by the third issue he became the de facto editor. 

After the first year, its founders sold The Onion to three people, including Dikkers. Dikkers founded TheOnion.com in 1996. Today, readers can access The Onion solely online where its legacy of making fun of everything and providing fake news unapologetically and intentionally continues. 

His talent for humor sprang from a challenging childhood during which he sought escape through comedy and writing. As a child, he endured bullying and watched his parents' marriage dissolve all while experiencing hardships caused by poverty. Dikkers, who has brought laughter and levity into people’s lives for decades, attempted suicide at eight years old.

He climbed his way through his pain with the help of Mad, a satirical magazine, which in part inspired his passion for comedy. He channeled this love for comedy and finding the humor in the mundane into the creation of a popular comic strip, called Jim's Journal, and a career in voice acting, before joining The Onion team. 

Today, he is the longest serving editor-in-chief of The Onion and the author and co-author of many books, including “Our Dumb World,” “Our Dumb Century,” and “Outrageous Marketing” and currently hosts “The Comedy Insider Podcast.”

Seating for this free event is available on a first come, first served basis. Dikkers's talk will be followed by a 30-minute question and answer session.

Additional WUD DLS lecture opportunities include a lecture, question and answer session and book signing with Dr. Reuben Jonathan Miller, Ph.D., on Nov. 9. Dr. Miller is a sociologist, criminologist, social worker and University of Chicago associate professor whose 2021 debut book “Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration” compiles 15 years of research on life after prison.

The WUD DLS Committee brings engaging and influential people to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus to encourage thought-provoking conversations. WUD includes 11 committees and six Wisconsin Hoofers clubs that program thousands of events each year.

More information about the upcoming DLS event is available here

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