On Satire (Or, Comedy is not a Victimless Crime)

Ah hah. Ah hahaha. So funny.

Anyway, after that extremely short, boring, cringey, and edgey introduction, I hereby lay my case before you: the defense of satire in today’s postmodern world. We’ve discussed humor on this blog before, but I’ve never given you a good reason to intentionally go and mock things; in fact, in today’s world, that will probably get you in a lot of trouble.

Rowan Atkinson, a British actor commonly known as the portrayer of Mr. Bean, said this in a recent interview:

“Every joke has a victim. That’s the definition of a joke. Someone or something or an idea is made to look ridiculous.”

– Rowan Atkinson

Think about it: when you laugh at something, there’s an aspect of that something that you find funny. Funny things are helpless or ridiculous or even weak. A joke is casting something in a funny light by–you guessed it–making fun of it. Making fun at the object or person’s expense.

Hence, we have the “victim” of the joke: a joke takes a thing, person, policy, or institution, and essentially mocks it. It makes it seem helpless, weak, or ridiculous. The joke makes the victim seem exaggerated, false, and most importantly, funny. It makes you want to snicker with the jokemaker.

Now, we all have that friend. You know, that one guy who “can’t take a joke”. He or she is takes offense easily and is sensitive and snappy. Such a person is usually a grouch and always takes life seriously. (Okay, maybe this person isn’t your “friend”–possibly just an acquaintance). They don’t make jokes, they don’t care about jokes you make, and they get their back up when a joke is made at their expense.

I’m saying two things: one, try not to be that person. They’re no fun (and I mean no fun) to be around. If you become the object of a joke, just go along. Laugh along. Odds are that it wasn’t all that offensive either. Two, I’m gonna tell you that there are a lot more of those kinds of people out there. You’d be surprised at the amount of people who “can’t take a joke”. (or maybe you wouldn’t, but that’s beside the point)

Okay…so this is a blog about fiction, right? That’s why this is all leading up to the connected topic: satire. Satire is the embodiment of Atkinson’s axiom. Satire isn’t humor in the sense of ha-ha-funny. More like humor in the sense that “wow, look at how stupid this is. Funny, right?”

Some satire is pretty mild. Others…less so. But whatever satire is doing, it is openly (I hesitate to say “bullying” because there’s little to no ill will involved most of the time) mocking a certain person, idea, or policy. Some satire (like the Babylon Bee) communicates through non-factual news articles, and some Satire (although not very funny at all, George Orwell’s 1984) is delegated through the use of fiction, and through a story more specifically.

But my job here is to defend satire, so here’s the coda of my argument: America’s a free country, and people are free to say what they wish. Making fun of things is a necessary part of humor as jokes fundamentally need “victims”. Satire is a more aggressive part of humor, but nonetheless still so. Even if you don’t like what the satirist is saying or that you don’t even think it’s funny, he’s allowed to mock whatever he’s mocking. (Unless you get into the realm of verbal abuse and blasphemy, which aren’t contained in humor. I do am not defending that.)

So, if you want, go write some satire. If you want to mock the state of government, do it. If you see your neighbor doing something utterly ridiculous, immortalize it in a story. If you want to make a joke, mock something. (and since you write fiction, you might want to mock it in a story.)

Good luck, and happy writing!

Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Until then, writers!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: