News with a satirical twist

Campus humor magazine expands to include online show


courtesy Athenian Youtube

The Athenian has started a comic news show this semester hosted by Paul Palumbo and Charlie Topel.

The Athenian is expanding. The campus humor magazine is now creating content specifically for the Internet with video project “The Athenian Update.” Done in the style of “Weekend Update” and “The Daily Show,” “The Athenian Update” aims to satirically present both campus and international news.

“The Athenian Update” was created by The Athenian’s Managing Editor Mahima Devarajan, who also works as the show’s head writer and currently holds the duties of director and producer.

Devarajan says that despite the multiple roles she currently holds behind the scenes, she eventually hopes to narrow her attention.

“I’ve been acting as the producer and director for now, just so we can execute the show as I’d envisioned it,” she said. “What I really enjoy is the writing, so eventually that’s what I want to focus on.”

“The Athenian Update” is scripted by a group of writers, many of whom also currently write for The Athenian. They congregate for writer’s meetings where they craft jokes based on stories they find from various news sources. Devarajan notes that she feels that bringing in multiple voices is extremely beneficial to the show.

“It is very much a collaborative effort. We always stress that diversity is what brings out the best comedy,” she said. “The best ideas come from when we’re just talking it out and bouncing ideas off of each other.”

Among those involved in the writing process is Paul Palumbo, one of the show’s two anchors this semester. The other anchor, starring in the first two released episodes and the upcoming third, is fourth-year student Charlie Topel.

Palumbo received his position after an audition process in which he was selected based on his ability to both deliver written jokes as well as being able to construct his own.

Palumbo describes the show’s filming process, during which the anchors and writers can revise jokes, based on what they feel is working.

“Once we actually start the filming session, we go through the script, make sure there’s nothing we should change,” Palumbo said. “We change some jokes around, we set up the desk and then we film for the next few hours.”

As one of the show’s anchors, Palumbo says he primarily looked to shows like “Weekend Update” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” as a model for how he should deliver jokes, but Devarajan insists that the show has several different sources of inspiration.

“One of my favorite shows is ‘30 Rock,’ and I’d like to execute satire in a similar way that they do,” she said. “But really, we’ll pull from any comedy.”

After only three episodes, Devarajan realizes the show is still finding its voice. Going forward, her hopes for the show include finding an ideal balance between campus and international news, as well as having a male and a female anchor.

For now, Devarajan says she’s glad to have the chance to create the show that she envisioned.

“It’s pretty cool that we’re on a campus where there’s an acceptance of free speech and we can say what we want to say,” she said. “We had an idea, wanted it to happen and it happened.”