49. Baratunde Thurston

“There is no ‘typical’ day in my life,” says Baratunde Thurston, the Onion’s director of digital. He may be helping a video about horse masturbation go viral (the video promoted an Onion Sports Network segment about a horse breeder). Or he could be in Paris, working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That mix of social activism and humor is what drives Thurston. “As I’ve submerged myself in news of the revolutions sweeping North Africa and the Middle East, I wanted desperately to feel part of what was going on,” he says. “And then it hit me: This is what white people were doing to me after Obama was elected!” In addition to honing his comedic chops doing stand-up in New York, he’s currently working on a book, How to Be Black, to be published by HarperCollins in February 2012.


Watch Thurston at the 2010 MIMA Summit, Web 2.0 Expo NY and SxSW


Watch a sample of Thurston’s standup comedy, and his acceptance video after becoming Fousquare’s Mayor of the Year.


SXSW Interactive is my mandatory annual pilgrimage. I always return fully fired up and ready to go.


Twitter: @baratunde