By: Sarah Gayda
Most nights I eagerly tune into The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 8:35 pm to catch the early airing. His opening monologue has become one of the most satisfying, laugh-out-loud parts of my day. How he manages to take what are truly alarming Trumpian misspeaks, blunders and acts of idiocy and shape them into witty, ironic and downright brilliant soundbites is well beyond me. For 10 blissful minutes, I can suspend my panic that the world is coming to an end and be assured that there are some smart Americans putting up a worthy resistance, comedic and otherwise.
I'm an admitted news junky; my appetite for current events is usually insatiable. However, lately I've been turned off some mainstream media, angry about the way they are covering Trump. Watching Jeffrey Lord, and others like him, on CNN makes my blood boil. Providing air time and a salary to such a Trump surrogate does not qualify as providing balanced coverage.
At the same time, my appreciation for clever political satire has grown immensely. On any given day, there are many great examples to choose from — a respite from the madness. Here are a few of my recent favourites:
- Any opening monologue from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
- Saturday Night Live, any week, but Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer is particularly brilliant
- Samantha Bee's Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner
- Vice's Trump's first 100 days in 200 seconds
- Obama’s Barrage of Complete Sentences Seen as Brutal Attack on Trump
- Trump Draws Twitter account
I've been curious as to why I've been deriving so much pleasure from talented artists poking fun at the world's pain. Why I can't stand to listen to Trump supporters or media trying to cover them with a straight face. Vox provides an excellent explanation that's well worth watching! Comedians have figured out the trick to covering Trump astutely points out that, "Political satire has something that TV news lacks, and that's a really low tolerance for bullshit."
Political satire dates back to ancient civilizations and has been ever-present throughout history. Reportedly, Aristophanes, the ancient Greek dramatist, satirized Athenian leaders during the Peloponnesian War. Benjamin Franklin displayed his satire in his 1773 book Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One, and Mark Twain was known for sharp lines like, "Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a congressman can."
I don't deny the power of satire can sometimes have unintended and very unfortunate consequences. The murder of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly, in January 2015 in Paris is a horrific example of that.
When it comes to American politics, I sincerely and desperately hope that satire can live up to the demands of its purpose: "to expose foolishness in all its guises — vanity, hypocrisy, pedantry, idolatry, bigotry, sentimentality — and to effect reform through such exposure." That's a tall order. For now, at least, the witty art form is keeping me somewhat sane and chuckling.