The Onion -- Who Are These People?

Each week The Onion has man-in-the-street interviews. They always use the same six pictures, even though the names are always different.

My question – who are these people, really? Are they aware of how famous they are?

I lived in Madison, Wisconsin when The Onion was still based there (aside from the AV Club staff, their offices have now relocated to New York), and I knew several people whose photos appeared in The Onion. The woman in the photo for this article was a substitute teacher at my high school. Anyway, everyone I knew who got their picture in The Onion was a friend or friend-of-a-friend of someone who worked there. I don’t know any of the “What Do You Think?” people, but I’m sure they were also just people who Onion staffers knew.

I can tell you that the backgrounds to the “What Do You Think?” photos are all from Madison – I used to work in the big glass building behind the middle-aged African-American businessman.

They actually used to have 6 different pictures. I think they switched to this new group about 6 or so years ago.

I think “What Do You Think?” is consistently the funniest section of the Onion, and for some reason, the fact that it’s always the same 6 pictures with new names and occupations is the best part of the joke.

And one of them is always a “systems analyst.”

Some of them appear in other articles as well. For example, isn’t the guy in the picture for this article the same one we see every week, identified this week as “Joseph Bogan, Tax Examiner”?

Although not one of those six people, a friend of mine has appeared in The Onion before. He was working there at the time, I’m guessing those people are either hired specifically to just be in the pictures, or they are also employees, writers, or something.

Things may be different now that they’re based in the Big City, but in Madison I never heard of anyone being hired, or paid at all, to pose for an Onion photo. The people I knew who appeared in The Onion were roommates of writers, longtime friends of one of the editors, that kind of thing.