Area Man Launches The Avocado -- The Onion For LA
If you've ever been disappointed that the Onion isn't satirizing a super-specific L.A. frustration, The Avocado is here for you. The new humor site, launched around two months ago, is trying to bring the joy of "New Study Finds 85% Of Americans Don't Know All The Dance Moves To National Anthem" to Los Angeles experiences.
That includes headlines like "Instagramming Angelenos Flock To New Museum Of Brightly Colored Walls" and "Travel Expert Recommends Flying Into LAX At Least Three Hours Before Needing Your Uber."
"If you're able to make fun of something, then you're able to take that issue seriously, you're able to vote on that," the site's editor-in-chief Justin Wales said.
Wales also works as a First Amendment lawyer. That crusader side can be seen in the site's satirical targets -- Wales said that he wants to make larger points alongside biting humor.
He appreciates shows like SNL making fun of the president, but he wanted to localize it and make sure that L.A. satire is more than just jokes based on the entertainment industry. Angelenos are affected more by local policies and politicians than by anyone on the national stage, Wales said.
"As a practical matter, Gavin Newsom has a lot more effect on our day-to-day lives than most of the people in Congress and most of the people in the executive branch," Wales said.
Another difference from a site like the Onion: in their efforts to help educate people, their fake news articles link to actual local news sources. Wales cited a recent Avocado article: "Is Your New Boyfriend An Adorably Disheveled Hipster Or One Of L.A.'S 60,000 Homeless?"
"I think the reason why it works is it gives you a lot of information about the homelessness crisis, and it also doesn't take a position of 'We're going to make fun of the homeless' -- it punches up, and says, 'Well, what are the root causes of some of these issues?'" Wales said.
While he grew up in L.A., he spent several years in Miami, where he started humor site The Plantain.
"[It] was a Miami-specific version of this, really addressing hyperlocal issues relating to some of the problems we were having at the time, which were gentrification, affordable housing, homelessness," Wales said. "I mean, it's a lot of the same problems we see happening in Los Angeles."
Wales said that they used that site's success to educate people about important local issues in a more exciting, accessible way. He's hoping to do the same in L.A.
"I hope that people see it as a tool for participating in their community," Wales said, "and also a way of making fun of all the weird things that goes into living in L.A. I mean, L.A.'s a weird place to live."
Wales founded the site with four of his friends. They're hoping to spread awareness around issues while also showcasing their work as writers -- and eventually, maybe make a little money.
Wales sees the site's audience as being people who care about living in L.A. and want it to become a better place.
While the site's founders have big aspirations, that doesn't mean they don't have room for some pure silliness too. Wales' personal favorite: "Father Accidentally Hires Billy Eichner Instead Of Billie Eilish For Daughter's Bat Mitzvah. All He Did Was Scream And Sing Bette Midler."
Beyond the website, they've also been distributing a print zine version of the Avocado, participating in live events, and working on several videos.
You can follow the Avocado's comedy at TheAvocadoLA.com and on social media. And you can follow Wales under his pen name Milo -- named in honor of punk singer Milo Aukerman of the Descendents. Maybe you'll find a little punk attitude at the Avocado too.