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No joke? Humor websites looking to sell

The Onion and Funny or Die see the bull market as no laughing matter. The humor websites are exploring a sale, according to Bloomberg News, making them the latest properties looking to cash in on a five-year surge in asset prices.

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Getty Images
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

But as terrific and funny as those two sites are, is it an ominous sign for the bull market that they're now looking to sell to the highest bidder?

Funny or Die is almost exclusively a video property, while The Onion provides both print and video content, so one can argue the two properties have value—thanks to the above-average price paid for ads on online video content.

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The question is: How much? Bloomberg reports that Funny or Die, with the help of investment bank Moelis & Co., is asking for $100 million to $300 million. Bloomberg does not have an asking price for The Onion, which is reportedly receiving the advice of investment bank GCA Savvian.

"I can't believe anyone would pay a large amount of money for The Onion, because it is primarily a parody news website," said CNBC contributor Jon Najarian, co-founder of TradeMonster.com and a self-professed fan of both sites. "The Funny or Die sale I could possibly see, because it is video."

A representative of The Onion declined to comment to CNBC.com about the Bloomberg report. Funny or Die did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

The Onion and Funny or Die are the successor generation to National Lampoon and Mad Magazine, which set the standard of humor in print starting in the 1960s and '70s. Any potential buyer would need to believe the sites can adapt with popular culture and not be easily be replaced by the next funny website to come along.

Funny or Die, co-founded by comic actor Will Ferrell, is the newer entity. The Onion was founded in 1988 by two students at the University of Wisconsin. It has grown tremendously from those early days as magazine sold on college campuses.

More recently, The Onion has garnered the attention of Vice President Joe Biden, whom the magazine has classically skewed over the years in articles such as the one titled "Shirtless Biden Washes Trans Am in White House Driveway."

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CNBC.com reached out to Biden's office on the possible sale of the publication, but he did not return the request for comment. (We asked if perhaps he would want a cut if the website is sold. He's certainly earned it in his role as their muse.)

Many believed the Alibaba Group record IPO in September would mark the top of the bull market, but two months later, the market is still going strong, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average rising to record highs. Some argued that the stock sale in New York of a Chinese e-commerce company practically no one in America had ever used was high comedy and a high for asset prices.

Now these critics really have something to laugh at.