PERFORMING ARTS

The Sanity of Satire: Surviving Politics One Joke at a Time

Rowman & Littlefield. Nov. 2020. 206p. ISBN 9781538129715. $30. TV
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Starting from broad statements (humor is a universal human trait; there is no perfect joke) Gini (business ethics) and Singer (management, both Loyola Univ. Chicago), self-described “B-school men,” tackle political satire and its ability to point out, critique, and warn of situations or behaviors that need attention. The book focuses primarily on recent politics, with President Donald Trump amply represented in examples from Saturday Night Live sketches and stand-up observations. The authors explore satire from women, such as Joan Rivers, Sarah Silverman, and Margaret Cho, and in another chapter wonder, “Why Are Jews So Funny?” Along with frequent examples of humor, Gini and Singer support their points of view with Pew Research studies, NPR interview excerpts, and New Yorker articles. The authors are united in thinking that two of the most important comedians of the 21st century are Dave Chappelle and Jon Stewart, though they take differing views on the ethics of offensive comedy and whether every subject, no matter how repugnant, is up for grabs.
VERDICT Punch lines and favorite riffs, interspersed with a more academic discussion of political satire, all in about 175 pages before endnotes, make this an interesting but not overbearing choice for humor collections.

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