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OFUPosterWithoutText-e1410553977705-1200x1010**This story has been updated with the link from WPT to watch the entire Funny University event/panel.

Hundreds of plastic pink flamingos dotting Bascom Hill, a (partial) Statue of Liberty replica “frozen” in Lake Mendota, and the embellished headlines of The Onion all share a great common denominator: they’re funny. More than 300 people welcomed back to campus the former University of Wisconsin–Madison students behind these examples of college humor. Scott Dikkers of The Onion and Jim Mallon, Pail and Shovel President and one of the masterminds behind the flamingos and Lady Liberty pranks returned to campus for Our Funny University.  They two shared how combining humor with college activism got people’s attention and ultimately helped Dikkers and Mallon build groundbreaking businesses.

photo“We’re going to try to figure out if there was something in the water at the UW–Madison that churned out so many comedy minds,” Dikkers said.

UW–Madison students for generations have forged successful careers by using comedy. Mallon and Dikkers use of college humor made significant impacts on their lives while at UW-Madison and long after. Mallon was elected President of the Wisconsin Student Association on the Pail and Shovel Party ticket – famously known for their comedic approach to student politics. He went on to win a Peabody Award as executive producer of the Mystery Science Theater 3000. Dikkers is a founding editor of The Onion and a #1 New York Times best-selling author. He co-wrote and edited The Onion’s Our Dumb Century, for which he received a Thurber Prize for American Humor and is developing a new Onion TV show for Comedy Central.

Scott Dikkers
Scott Dikkers

“A big part of The Onion’s history took place in Madison — roughly the first half of its life,” Dikkers notes. “So, Madison and the UW have had an indelible impact on what The Onion has become.”

Mallon and Dikkers say they wanted to show students they can balance exploring a variety of fields, gain the knowledge and skills needed for a career, while enjoying and embracing the university experience.

“It is always a great day to return to the magical campus of the University of Wisconsin. I have nothing but great memories from my time there,” Mallon says. “I look forward to one of those perfect fall weekends of impossible blue skies, the Union Terrace, Farmer’s Market around the Square, and the sound of victory echoing from Camp Randall.”

Jim Mallon
Jim Mallon

Our Funny University is a sponsored by UW–Madison Libraries, UW–Madison Parent Program, and Wisconsin Public Television.  UW–Madison Libraries Department of Special Collections is home to one of the largest collections (The Dobbertin Collection) of historic campus humor magazines from the 19th to the 21st century, including the Harvard Lampoon, The Gargoyle from the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin Octopus. UW Libraries Archives are working to broaden the collection for students, faculty and scholars by including the items associated with The Onion.

For more information contact Natasha Veeser: nveeser@library.wisc.edu or 608-262-2632 and view a complete wrap up of the event with the Wisconsin Alumni Association.

If you missed the event, you can catch the entire evening thanks to WPT.