The 20 Funniest News Stories of 2011
#20] Killer Shopping
There are a few holidays that give Americans the chance to do something stupid and dangerous. On the Fourth of July it is blowing parts of the body off with illegal fireworks. On St. Patrick's Day it is binge drinking and fighting. And on New Years it is standing out in the freezing cold to watch a lit ball move down a pole. In the past few years retailers created a new holiday for Americans to act dangerously foolish, Black Friday. Black Friday takes place hours after the Thanksgiving Dinner is finished where stores encourage shoppers to line up at their doors to wait for a midnight opening. The lure, amazing deals on some of the merchandise. The retailers call these Door-busters, because they only have a few of these items in stock, and the sale is only limited to the handful they have in the store. This leads to a stampede of shoppers running into the store the second the door is opened, and the fights over the desired sales items that follows. This year something new was added to the mayhem. A woman in California describedas an "aggressive shopper" brought a can of pepper spray withe her to a Walmart and used it to clear away other shoppers vying for the handful of X-Boxes that were on sale. And thus, a new Black Friday tradition is born.
UPDATE: The woman is now suing Walmart, claiming that she used the pepper spray to protect her children from other aggressive shoppers fighting over the X-Boxes
#19] The Man With The Golden Voice
Viral celebrities. Andy Warhole once predicted that in the future everyone would be world famous for fifteen minutes, and with Youtubethat prediction has nearly come true. Justin Bieber's fifteen minutes expanded into a successful teen rock star career. Jay "Tron Guy" Maynard's fifteen minutes sputtered out after a few appearances in comedy bits on Jimmy Kimmel and came to an embarrassing end last summer when he attempted to audition for "America's Got Talent" in his costume. Somewhere in between was the story of the other Ted Williams. Ted was a homeless man and recovering alcoholic who appeared on a local news report during a slow news day. In the story a reporter found Ted standing next to a highway holding a cardboard sign with writing way too small for the passing cars to see. "I have a God given gift of voice. I'm an ex radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please! Any help will be gratefullyappreciated. Thank you and God bless you / Happy Holidays." The reporter asked for a demonstration of his radio voice and Ted did a perfect promo for MAGIC 98.9 FM. Someone posted the news report on Youtube and in no time it became a sensation. This lead to all the morning shows doing their own stories on "The Golden Voiced" drifter, and soon he was doing guest spots on talk shows as well as being offered high profile voice-over jobs. His family was found and a reunion was arranged which was covered by everyone. It was the greatest feel good story ever, wasn't it? You would think that all these news organizations that were gushing over Williams would have been a bit more curious as to why a talented voice artists ended up disheveled and living on the streets. They got their answer when Ted had his mental break down and relapse into drug use within days of his rise to fame, something an interview with Dr Phil failed to fix. By the end of the month he and his estranged family were estranged again after a loud fight that lead to the police being called. Almost as quickly as he got them, Williams lost most of his job offers. He went to rehab for alcoholism, walked out after 12 days, and was inevitably talked into voluntarily institutionalizing himself for "emotional reasons". Rags to riches back to rags in a few weeks time.
UPDATE: It is not exactly the end for Ted. His life is such a train wreck that the reality show producers want him. And he does have that great golden voice which could still get him work, provided he is cured from whatever he has. As for the news organizations that turned him into a role model without doing a background check, sorry, there is no cure for stupidity.
#18] Justin's Baby
Last summer there were rumors that teen singer Justin Bieber had impregnated his girlfriend actress/singer Selena Gomez. These were just Internet rumors, and had they turned out to be true would have easily have been a contender for the funniest story of the year. It was most likely these rumors that inspired single mother Mariah Yeater to claim that Bieber was her baby's daddy, and sue him for paternity. According to Yeater's story, she had somehow gotten past Justin's mom at a concert and had sex with him in his dressing room. Selling her story and pictures of the alleged Bieber Jr. to the gossip magazines, she demanded that Justin should be made to take a DNA test to prove she was telling the truth. Justin immediately announced that he would take the test, and then once it proved he was not the father, sue her and her lawyers for filing a malicious claim. Yeater's lawyers immediately dropped her lawsuit and dropped her as a client.
UPDATE: Yeater continues to claim that Bieber got her pregnant, even though her boyfriend has come forward claiming he is the father and some of her friends have claimed they were there when she came up with the idea of suing a celebrity and picked Bieber's name out of thin air.
#17] Bloomberg Gets Educated
An embarrassing low point for Michael Bloomberg's third term as Mayor of New York City. Deciding he should be able to appoint anyone he wanted to any government post, he decided he wanted Coca Cola executive Cathie Black to become the new school chancellor. The job required at least three year's teaching experience and a degree in educational management, and Cathie had neither. Everyone from concerned parents to activists and even members of the Board of Education blasted Bloomberg for appointing someone with no educational experience. Legal challenges were made to attempt to block her appointment, but inevitably Bloomberg got his way. Education Commissioner David Steiner granted a waver allowing Cathie to take office on January 1st without the required experience, with the provision that a Chief Academic Officer with the required qualifications be appointed as her advisor. While Bloomberg kept insisting that she would be an excellent school's chancellor, all Cathie had to do was an adequate job as expectations for her performance were low. She could not even pull that off. Even with a qualified advisor at her side she received all time low approval ratings. But the real low point came with her two public appearances. At a meeting about proposed school closings, concerned parents ( who were mostly minorities ) complained that the schools that would remain open would be overcrowded. Cathie joked that perhaps the solution to overcrowding would be if they used better birth control. As she chuckled to herself the parents stared in disbelief, only a few moments before exploding in anger at that suggestion. In the next public meeting she took the stage to a few boos from some of the parents and immediately began to mock them. That was it for the public meetings. Her approval ratings dropped, and finally after only three months on the job Bloomberg asked her to resign.
#16] The Runaway Wife
Remember the Salahis, that annoying socialite couple that crashed a white house party a couple of years ago in order to qualify for "Real Housewives of D.C."? You would think breaking several federal laws together would bond this couple for life. But last September a frantic Tareq Salahi called the police to say that his wife was missing, and he believed she must have been kidnapped. After a nation wide search Michaele Salahi was found safe and sound in the arms of Neal Schon, lead guitarist for the band Journey. It turns out that Michaele had hooked up with Schon, convincing him to dump his wife of only two months, former Playboy Playmate Ava Fabian. Michaele and Neal had been in a secret relationship for two years, and when she convinced him to dump his newlywed wife and run off with her, she neglected to tell either her husband or anyone in her family.
UPDATE: Both Tareq and Ava have filed for divorce from their respective spouses.
#15] The Runaway Snake
Last spring a deadly Egyptian Cobra escaped from its enclosure at the Bronx Zoo. Now, while the cobra did not actually escape from the zoo ( it was still trapped within the reptile building ) for the three days it was missing the rest of the city assumed the worst, that a deadly snake was on the lose and could be anywhere. This lead to someone creating a twitter account for the missing reptile and tweeting hourly accounts from the snake claiming to be visiting various popular locations. The missing snake soon became a celebrity, even making appearances on the late night talk shows. His fifteen minutes of fame came to an abrupt end when he was found by zookeepers coiled up in a corner of the reptile building.
#14] Naked Alex
Last July game show host Alex Trebek woke up in his hotel room to find a woman rummaging through his belongings. Wearing only underpants Alex chased the burglar out of his hotel room and down the hallway where he nearly caught her, only his Achilles tendon snapped sending him falling to the floor. As you can imagine, the media fixated on the fact that Alex was wearing nothing but underwear.
#13] The Pilot Who Could Not Keep His Mike Shut
In June a Southwest Airlines pilot had a 20 minute conversation with his co-pilot on how much he was disgusted by the stewardesses who were either too fat, too old, or, in his opinion, were male and must be homosexual. The only problem was that his radio microphone was stuck open, and unbeknown st to him, his profanity filled and sexually bias rant went out over the airwaves for everyone to hear. The radar tower he had been talking to before the rant made several attempts to warn the pilot that he was still broadcasting, but apparently the crew had removed their headpieces and could no longer hear the tower. The rant ended up on the Internet and replayed by news organizations across the globe, while the pilot was suspended and fined. Southwest Airlines insists that not all their pilots are like this.
#12] Stuck on the Ceiling
One of the funniest stories from 2010 continued into 2011. Last year "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark", an expensive musical that involved a lot of complicated wire-work to simulate Spider-Man and his foes flying through the air, opened in late November in previews on Broadway. In the last month of last year the show became notorious for cast members becoming stuck in mid air during the aerial fights, and a few accidents where cast members tumbled to the stage. The play dragged on in previews with the official opening day being pushed back as director Julie Taymor attempted to work the bugs out of the production, bugs that continued well into the first few months of 2011. In March Taymor was out as producers retooled the show, but technical issues continued. Meanwhile the show continued to be the butt of jokes for the late night talk shows. After a record breaking 27 weeks in preview the musical finally had it's opening night on June 14.
UPDATE: Recently the musical broke a new record, the all time highest box-office gross in a weeks time for a broadway show. Despite Spider-Man's flaws ( or, perhaps, because of those flaws ) it continues to make millions in ticket sales and is on it's way to becoming the all time biggest hit in Broadway history.
#11] Are They???
The past few years saw historic breakthroughs in civil rights as stat after state legalized same sex marriage. While advocates across the country campaigned for homosexual couples to have the same rights as heterosexuals, a splinter group spent the past few years petitioning for the rights of gay couples on Sesame Street. In particular, the right for long time roommates Ernie and Bert to get married. This past summer the online partitions began to take on a life of their own as news organizations and late night talk shows began to take notice. Demand for Ernie and Bert to tie the knot got so much attention that the Children's Television Workshop were forced to release the following statement:
"Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."
# 9] A Hard Way to Die
The last thing any evil dictator wants is Regine change, either because of an invading army, or worse, when his own people get up the nerve to revolt. But when they are overthrown, they would rather be known for defiantly fighting to their last breath, that the history books say that they died a warrior's death. The very last thing they want is one of those embarrassing deaths where they were shot in the back while running away, or were caught sneaking away disguised as a woman, or the worst, begging for their life just before the end. In the past when something like this happened, loyalists could always claim that it was all lies, that their leader died gloriously in the midst of battle. Not so for Quadaffi. After months of evading rebel forces, he was finally captured in the worst possible situation ever, being pulled from a sewer where he was hiding, then begging for his life seconds before someone in the crowd blew his brains out. But far worse for Mulmar, it was all recorded on someones cell phone, and within the hour the entire incident was downloaded on the Internet for the whole world to see. This was not a powerful warrior bravely fighting to his last breath, but a terrified little man being yanked out of the shit he was hiding in, pleading to the crowd for mercy. Ain't technology a bitch?
# 10] The True King of All Media
When Piers Morgan took over Larry King's CNN show he asked former radio superstar Howard Stern to be one of his first guests. During that show Piers continuously teased Stern, claiming that he was the new King of All Media. Piers had recently won the "Celebrity Apprentice", was a judge on NBC's hit summer show "America's Got Talent", and was now replacing Larry King. Peirs boated that this was only the beginning. His CNN show would be a hit, and soon everyone would recognize him as the new King of Media. He even suggested that he would be coming for Stern's job. Stern tried to warn Morgan that he should not boast when he only just started his CNN show, but Piers was too full of himself. Well, what a difference a year makes. While the show with the Stern interview had high ratings, the shows that followed tanked. Piers soon realized he could not do both his CNN show and "America's Got Talent" and decided he would rather keep the CNN job. After announcing his retirement from "America's Got Talent" rumors began that producers wanted to hire Howard Stern as his replacement. By mid December the rumors became fact. Instead of Piers Morgan taking Stern's job, Howard Stern had taken Piers Morgan's job.
# 8] 72 Days
A lot of people were angered when Kim Kardashian filed for divorce from husband Kris Humphries last Halloween. What a bunch of sucker. The Kardashian family began working for the E! channel in October of 2007. "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" was the channel's answer to "The Howard Stern Show" after they realized that maybe they should not have cancelled the only show anyone watched on the channel. Fortunately for E! the Kardashians turned out to be almost as biga ratings draw as Howard's show was, and by 2011 it had spun off into three other reality programs, "Kourtney & Khloé Take Miami", "Khloé & Lamar" and "Kourtney & Kim Take New York". In the spring of 2011 the big story was the Royal wedding between Kate Middleton and Prince William. Executives at E! noticed how much media attention that wedding got, and a month latter it was announced that Kim would be marrying Humphries after only seven months of dating. The new royal wedding would take place in August, and E! would have exclusive coverage in a show that would air in October. "Kim's Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event" was shown in two parts, but even before the show aired the tabloids were reporting that the marriage was already at an end. Had Kim filed for divorce before or during the airing of the two part E! wedding special this would have easily become the funniest story of 2011. But someone ( most likely the killjoys at E! ) convinced Kim to delay filing for divorce for another two weeks.
UPDATE: While no one can prove that E! knew the wedding was a sham, it seems that E! knew the marriage was failing long before Kris Humphries. Kourtney and her mother discussed her leaving Kris while the cameras rolled for the reality show "Kourtney & Kim Take New York", and E! kept mum on the impending breakup as they aired the wedding special.
# 7] Egg on the Face
No one thought that Donald Trump was actually running for president. He would announced his candidacy for publicity, get a lot of news organizations to interview him, then make an excuse to drop out after a few months before he really did have to do any real campaigning. During his brief run Trump became a Birther, accusing Obama of not being born in America, that his own hired detectives had found evidence of a cover-up, and challenged Obama to produce a real birth certificate. On April 27, despite having already produced documentation proving he was born in Hawaii, Obama finally released a copy of his birth certificate to shut up the Birther's ( or more likely to divert the world's attention from the fact that he was about to close in on Osama Bin Laden ). an embarrassed Donald Trump admitted the President was born in America, and tried to save face by claiming he forced the president to produce the birth certificate. Soon after Trump dropped out of the race, as expected.
# 6] The Misguided Adonis
Celebrities getting caught sexting imbarrasing or even nude pictures of themselves has become commonplace. If you have a phone that is a camera then it is all too easy to think of sending what you beieve to be a sexy picture of yourself to the person you are trying to impress. It was inevitable that this would eventually spread to our elected officials. Had camera/phones existed in the 90s then it is very possible that Clinton would have been caught. Two texting scandals involving public officials are in this years 20 funnies news stories. The first was congressman Chris Lee who last February sexted a transsexual he found on Craigslist claiming to be a divorced lobbyist but using his real name. After googling his name the transsexual figured out who he really was, then sent the picture and text to the blog Gawker. By the end of the day the picture and story was all over the Internet and Chris Lee immediately resigned from office. What makes this story the 6th funniest of the year was the picture itself, Lee posing in front of a mirror holding the phone in one hand and making a muscle flexing fist with his other while having an unintentional look on his face like a deer caught in the headlights. The Chris Lee pose was mimicked and made fun of on every late night talk show.
# 3] Congratulations Arnold, it is a Son!
Shortly after his term as Governor of California ended, it was announced that Arnold Schwarzenegger had fathered a son to a maid he had an affair with 14 years ago. The maid had worked for the Schwarzenegger's for 20 years and was about to retier when Arnold's wife Maria Shriver confronted her as to why her son looked so much like her husband. The maid broke down and confesses, and with that Arnold was on his way to divorce court and expulsion from the Kennedy family.
# 5] Wining!
Early in 2011 the public melt down of actor Charlie Sheen dominated the media for weeks. Sheen had been a wild partying man for years, until bad publicity over a trashed hotel room finally forced CBS to show some sort of public outrage and demand the star of one of their top rated shows go to rehab. Sheen had already treated himself at his own home rehab, and deciding he was cured and ready to return to work told CBS where they could shove their rehab. But it was when Sheen insulted "Two and a Half Men" producer Chuck Lorre in a couple of interviews that CBS announced the rest of the season would be cancelled, and that Charlie Sheen was fired from the show. An unstable sheen struck back, appearing on any talk show that would book him ( which was just about every one of them ) and even walking onto some unannounced. He had a lot of wild things to say about CBS and Chuck Lorre, insisted that he was "winning" ( which turned into his 2011 catch phrase ), began living with a couple of porn stars he called the Goddesses, began drinking some unidentified red substance he insisted was tiger blood, and released a number of incoherent ranting videos on Youtube. In March Sheen announced that he would be touring in a one man show called "My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not An Option". Breaking Ticketmaster's record, the tour sold out in 18 minutes. The tour was a disaster, especially for those people who paid a lot of money to see Sheen rant like a madman on stage instead of whatever spectacular show they had imagined Sheen would have put together in a couple of weeks.
# 4] The End of Days
While a lot of people are expecting the world to end in 2012, just as the ancient Mayan calendar predicts, in 2011 someone jumped the gun. After studying the Bible and making countless calculations, Family Radio host Harold Camping announced that he had predicted the exact date for the end of the world, May 21 2011. On that day Jesus would return for the final judgement. Those deemed good would fly up to heaven while the rest of us would be stuck here for the next five months while the earth was beset by all sorts of disasters killing millions every day. Then on October 21 the universe would blow up, and that would be that. Thousands of devote Christians who believed him sold all their possessions and used every cent of their bank accounts to pay for advertising warning the rest of us to repent before it was too late. They did not need money, they would be raptured in May. When May 21 came and went without incident Camping adjusted his prediction. Jesus had judged the Earth that day, but the Rapture and accompanying fireworks and brimstone would not occur until October 21. Well, were still here.
# 2] This Really Did Happen!
This is a message for the future generations reading this article. I am telling you this really happened. There was a congressman named Anthony Weiner. I am not kidding. That was his name. On May 27 Weiner took a picture the bulge in his underwear, posted it on YFrog, then sent the link of the photo to a 21 year old college student who's Twitter account he had mistaken for a porn star with an identical name. I am not kidding. Weiner sent a picture of his ding dong to a girl by mistake. The photo was removed immediately, but not before someone sent a copy to a conservative blogger, and from there it was all over the Internet. Weiner claimed that someone must have hacked into his Twitter account and posted the photo. But then said that he could not be 100% certain that it was not a picture of his shorts. I am not kidding about this. When the FBI wanted to investigate the alleged hacking Weiner finally came clean, admitted it was his photo, and resigned from office. This really happened. You don't believe me then look it up for yourself.
# 1] The Road to Iowa
Hands down the funnies news story of the year was the ongoing circus that was the campaign for the Republican Nomination for President of the United States. Even with Sara Palin announcing she would not run and Donald Trump dropping out in May, the race for the Republican ticket and it's countless debates produced no end of unintentional fun. There were two goofy candidates. Michelle Bachmann had made a name for herself as the congresswoman who made the Tea Party's response to the State of the Union address, and for some unexplained reason stared off into the air while reading the speech rather than looking into the camera. For a while she was the front runner making many memorable gaffs, such as wishing Elvis a happy birthday when it turned out to be the anniversary of his death, or calling John Quincy Addams one of our founding fathers when it turned out he was only 8 years old during the American Revolution. Even her announcement that she would be running was flawed when she compared her spirit to another American born in her home town of Waterloo, John Wayne, only to later discover that the John Wayne from her home town was serial killer John Wayne Gacy. And then there was that cover of Newsweek Magazine where she once again starred off into space rather than into the camera, the result being the cover made her look nuts. ( Although Newsweek adding the tag line "The Queen of Rage" did not help. ) Then there was another one time front runner, businessman and CEO of Gadfather's Pizza, Herman Cain. There was his 9-9-9 tax plan that analysts concluded would never work and only end up raising the tax burden on the poor, but never the less became his annoying catch phrase for much of his campaign. There was the interview on November 14th where when asked about the validity of our country's involvement in the revolution in Libya he sort of froze there for a few minutes, unable to think of any response. Even his campaign manager was a riot, ending a commercial were he endorses Cain by having a long "this makes me look cool" drag of a cigarette. And there were all those women coming fourth to claim sexual misconduct and adultery that plagued the end of his run for office that kept us entertained, especially when one of the women produced evidence of her affair with Cain. Even the down to Earth candidates had their memorable gaffs, such as when Rick Perry stated that once in office he would eliminate three agencies, Commerce, Education, and then could not remember what the third agency was. And then there was the return of Donald Trump who announced he would be moderating his own debate, only most of the candidates refused to show up forcing Donald to cancel it. The Republican campaigns continued to entertain us for most of the year, giving tons of material to Saturday Night Live and the late night talk shows.