What sets satirists apart from comedians simply cracking jokes for laughs is satirists strive to challenge, critique and confront society’s absurdities or injustices through their humor.
That’s according to the new book “The Sanity of Satire: Surviving Politics One Joke at a Time” by co-authors Al Gini and Abraham Singer.
“Satirists are contrarians or comic critics who intentionally set out to belittle, debunk, and/or deconstruct the social and political status quo,” the book states.
The book delves into the history of political satire – from ancient graffiti to late-night talk shows – to trace how sometimes biting humor can affect change.
The authors compare some political satirists to the proverbial “canaries in a coal mine” – alerting the public of what they might perceive as wrong before the rest of society might.
Gini, a retired business ethics professor at Loyola University Chicago, said political satire found on shows like the “Late Show with Steven Colbert” and “Saturday Night Live” often belie a deeper meaning.
“Comedy is this attempt to keep us entertained – maybe keep us busy for a while to overcome our fears about something, to give us some relief,” Gini said. “But satire – whether it’s mild, rude, crude or vulgar – is really a statement. It’s really trying to catch your attention to say something so you’re aware of it so we can possibly change it.”