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

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

Al Gini and Abraham Singer. Rowman & Littlefield, $30 (128p) ISBN 978-1-53812-971-5

Retired business professor Gini (The Importance of Being Funny) and Singer, professor of business ethics at Loyola University, disappoint in this confused and unenlightening volume. Mislabeled as an analysis of political satire, the authors provide dueling objectives, asserting first that they are focusing on political satire (“If there is anything like a thesis to our book” it is that “satire isn’t just something we do in response to politics, but something basic to the types of beings we are”) but then later expand to include humor in general. The narrative includes a look at comedian Phyllis Diller, who is generally not considered a satirist; a summary of Dave Chappelle’s career, which reduces his comedic gifts to a laundry list of his on-screen roles; and an awkward chapter in which the authors debate whether subjects such as school shootings and rape should be off-limits for comics. The text is rife with banalities (“Humor gives us another way of looking at things”), the prose tends to the purple (“VEEP can be seen as the original flagship of the media flotilla engaged in the satirical assault against USS Trump”), and the point that satire can take the edge off of life’s inevitable difficulties is recited to the point of redundancy. This adds little to the understanding of satire’s place in culture. (Nov.)