Satire on the ropes

An excellent question: how do you ensure you’re punching up, as you should be with satire, when no one can agree on which way is actually up? Satire is really feeling it these days, what with the news appearing to be satire and satire being more reliable than the news. (TLS sub req to finish.)

Depending on whom you ask, it is either the best or the worst time to be writing political satire. The best, because the news itself is doing half the work for you by inhabiting the uncanny valley between real life and an Onion headline; the worst for exactly the same reason. If it is a satirist’s job to draw out what is ridiculous in current events, today’s news cycle can either make that seem too easy, or overwhelming – comedy writers like me can often feel a bit like a dog trying to chase six tennis balls without dropping the one in its mouth. Add to that the pressure to be original, at a time when everyone from Hillary Clinton to Greggs the bakers are taking shots at the powerful on Twitter, the fractious nature of audiences and the fact that by roasting their enemies on social media and appearing on panel shows powerful targets are increasingly using satire for their own ends, and it’s easy to see why a satirist might start to suffer from an identity crisis.

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