Who are the people in The Onion’s American Voices? The top 10 questions
For years, The Onion has published American Voices, a feature that surveys the real opinions of real Americans. The catch? The people always have the same picture. That leads a lot of readers to wonder who the American Voices people are. We have the answers.
Q: Who are the current American voices?
As of publication of this guide, there are six American voices. They’re below (click for bigger versions).
Q: So who are they? Do we know their identities?
The Onion, like any good fake news organization, plays the info close to their chest. However, a few real life identities have trickled out.
Most of the crew were just strangers or friends in Madison, Wisconsin, where The Onion used to be based.
Q: You have to have more than that. Who is one real person?
Fortunately, we have good documentation about at least one American Voice.
The brown-haired caucasian man is Bill Harris. He was The Onion’s Madison UPS truck driver and agreed to be in the feature. Though different photos have been used over the years, Harris has stayed in the picture.
Of course, as with all Onion news, people occasionally get satire and real life confused.
“One week’s question was, ‘What would your do if your son was caught putting graffiti on a wall?’” Harris said. “My response in the paper was, ‘I’d break his arm,’ Well, my kid’s arm was in a cast that week. People thought, ‘He really does what he says in the paper.’”
Q: Is there anybody else you can track down?
This video provides some clues. In addition to Harris, one Voice was a regional theater member, and another was a restaurant coworker of graphics designer Chad Nackers. The original African-American male was a schoolteacher, but his students overreacted and he asked to be removed. He was replaced by a stock photo before being replaced by another friend of The Onion.
We also know that one American Voice is still happy to be featured.
Q: Where can I find all the characters’ names and jobs?
Programmer Jeff Palm scraped The Onion archives. He has a list of fictional names and jobs (both of which we used to write this article).
Q: Who’s the most common American Voice?
Q: Were these the only American Voices?
No! Diehards will know that there was another crew of American Voices men and women. They’re below.
Q: When did it switch?
Q: Why did they switch?
We don’t know for sure, but our guess is that The Onion wanted higher quality photos.
Q: Is that it? Are those all the American Voices?
No. A few times, The Onion has strayed from its formula.
There have also been famous cameos, including Timothy Geithner, Harry Reid, Michelle Obama, John Edwards, John Boehner, Sarah Palin, singer Bryan Ferry, reality star Susan Hawk, and, of course, Bobo the Monkey.