By Mark F. Bernstein ’83
Anyone who followed this year’s political campaigns could hardly know whether to laugh or cry. Those who wanted to laugh would have done well to log on to The Final Edition, an Internet humor site managed by Jeff Kreisler ’95 that bills itself as “satire with teeth.” Think of it as an edgier version of The Onion.
Items on the website don’t have to be political, although during the election season politics seemed to be a topic that kept on giving. Now that the votes have been counted, The Final Edition is again broadening its range, tackling anything that might be ripe for mockery. On a typical morning in mid-November, for example, the site’s “news feed” included the following stories: “New Second Avenue Subway Will Include Bike Lanes,” “From Here to iTernity: Apple Launches iTombs,” and a zombie advice column (showcasing “the increasingly fashionable ‘Z’ way of life”).
Kreisler is well known for his standup tours and his satirical book, Get Rich Cheating (and was profiled in PAW’s Jan. 19, 2011, humor issue). He joined The Final Edition as a writer in April 2011, shortly after it was founded by Tony Hendra, a former editor of Spy magazine. He was promoted to managing editor that fall.
Kreisler’s role on the website tends to be more administrative, choosing what goes online and where, although he also contributes some writing. He finds greater scope for his creative energies on its weekly podcast, The Final Edition Radio Hour (actually only 30 minutes long), which airs Thursday nights on the Progressive Radio Network. Kreisler co-hosts and introduces reports from the show’s far-flung correspondents. In a recent story, which he wrote and narrated, faux economists debated whether the best way to restart the economy after the collapse of the subprime mortgage bubble is … to launch another bubble. In Kreisler’s hands this rather ludicrous idea slyly makes a sharper point about an economy in which “[i]rrational speculation and massive overreaching … enriches everyone who matters.”
Kreisler got some national exposure last summer, albeit anonymously, when he ghost-wrote parts of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s raucous speech to the Democratic National Convention. C-SPAN called the address “thumping” and even The Wall Street Journal grudgingly praised it as a “surprise hit.” “It was nice to see millions of people laugh at my work instead of the usual dozens,” he deadpans.
The Final Edition, Kreisler says, hopes to emulate the National Lampoon, developing content in many venues, including the web, radio, video, and possibly live events. Concerned that this might sound too “business plan-y,” Kreisler cuts to the point. “We want to create smart, cutting satire everywhere we can with all the brilliant people we can find.” Writers and contributors at the site have included several Princetonians: Rob Kutner ’94, Rachel Lyon ’05, Tess Wood ’11, and Eliot Linton ’15.
Says Kreisler, “Let the tyranny of the Harvard Lampoon end!” No joke.