Politics & Comedy
When you think of comedy, perhaps a popular stand-up comedian comes to mind, or your favorite funny movie or sitcom. Comedy is a form of entertainment and it’s meant to make us laugh.
“Comedy is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter".
We know that laughing is great for our mental health, our relationships and our bodies. But have you ever considered the function of comedy in our modern political views?
Comedy is often used to talk about various events, behaviours and issues in society. Comedy in its essence allows us to breach difficult and emotionally charged topics in a way that feels less contentious.
If you think about it, this is what makes comedy funny in the first place; it crosses or at least teeters on the line of the things we would typically say in everyday conversation.
And, It turns out that comedy and politics have a long and significant history together.
“The term comedy originated in ancient Greece: in Athenian democracy. The purpose was to influence the public opinion of voters with political satire performed by comic poets in theaters.”
And still, in todays’ modern world, perhaps the best and most obvious example of politics in comedy is in satirical comedy.
“Satirical comedy is the form of satire in which the writer uses comic elements to expose the realities of the society or any problem”
“The writer uses fictional characters to represent the real people, to expose and condemn their corruption. It intends to improve the problems of society by exposing them and by giving their solutions.”
All you must do to find great satirical comedy is turn on the television or any streaming service. Long-running programming like Saturday Night Live and This Hour Has 22 Minutes are perfect examples.
Then we have talk shows like The Daily Show, Late Night with Seth Myers, The Tonight Show and the Colbert Report. These shows are also great examples of how comedy can be used to highlight, discuss, mock and ridicule political narratives and often controversial topics.
And don't forget about your favourite stand-up comedian, movie or sit-com. Politics has always had its place on the stage, but it seems that comedians and comedy writers are increasingly finding their role in social change.
So, what does this all mean?
“Political comedy appears to promote more cynicism toward politicians, the government, and the media, but also tends to empower citizens to think they can contribute to and make a difference in society.
Politicians know that comedy is a great way to influence people which is evident in their willingness to appear on these types of shows.
Perhaps more importantly at this time of great polarity in public opinion, comedy seems to unite us and bring us together. Whether through fostering shared ideals or by making light of our differences, we can laugh about it together.