Favorite comic texts   14 comments

As you’ve probably guessed, I am a fan of fake news. I read The Onion and The Texas Travesty, and I watch The Daily Show and Colbert Report as often as possible. Recently, I’ve been enjoying the posts at  literallyunbelievable, a blog that tracks literal misinterpretations of fake news stories on Facebook. I’ve never been a regular South Park viewer, but I enjoy it every now and then, and I respect the way the show satirizes absurdities on multiple sides of the political spectrum. Some of my favorite stand-up comics include Richard Pryor, Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks, and David Cross. Like many of you, I’m also a great fan of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller; this is probably my favorite literary satire. I’m also interested in satirical visual art, including Art Spiegelman’s comics and Mark Fiore’s animated videos.

One satirical show that has strongly influenced my thinking about rhetoric is Mr. Show, a sketch comedy project by Bob Odenkirk and David Cross that aired on HBO in the 1990s. This show is all over the place, but it consistently makes fun of the conventions of TV, especially ads. Our conversation in class on Friday made me think of this spoof campaign video between two figures who are not running for political office:

Some of the same scare tactics and stock images we saw in Colbert’s mock ads make an appearance here–including, of course, stock footage of Hitler.

All of the comic texts listed here have given me a sense of community with other fans at some point or another; quoting Mr. Show with my co-workers got me through a good many stressful restaurant shifts in college. But when I try to think about satire as a form of rhetoric, or persuasion, I wonder whether it’s possible for a satirical argument to change the minds of viewers who don’t already agree with it, rather than just reinforcing the beliefs that like-minded people already share. For example, if someone who supports Super PACs as a healthy form of free speech watches Stephen Colbert’s critique of current campaign finance laws, would the humor make it possible for her to rethink her own position? Or would the humor offend her and make her less likely to be persuaded by Colbert’s implicit argument? In short, can satire help us to laugh at our own beliefs? This is a question I hope to think about throughout the course.

Once you have your WP username and password up and running, please submit a short post following this example. Tell us about your favorite comic texts, movies, shows, etc., and why you chose to take a course on satire (if the topic was part of your decision–it’s okay if not!), and any thoughts or questions you have about rhetoric and satire as we get started.




Posted August 26, 2011 by sarasaylor in Uncategorized

14 responses to “Favorite comic texts

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  1. My favorite satirical show is The Simpsons. Occasionally, I watch some Family Guy. With comic texts, I usually read Chuck & Beans from the Shoebox blog and Charles Schultz’s Peanuts. Neither are very political, but Chuck & Beans has featured some political strips in the past. I chose to take Rhetoric of Satire, because I thought I’d be nice to spend my days laughing with my classmates. Also, my other Rhetoric choices were all full.

  2. Awesome vid. I’ll need to catch up on Mr. Show now! Looks too good to pass up!

  3. I’ve never heard of Mr. Show, but it’s hilarious from the videos I’ve watched so far. I think I like it even more because David Cross is in it. I also love SNL, and I hope that I begin to more and more not just laugh at the slapstick humor from these two shows, but also think about the point that they are trying to get across. I hope to be more aware of the subtleties behind the humor.

  4. I am a huge fan of all sorts of comic movies, be it any language, and I’ve never really liked to categorized the ‘type’ of comedy as long as I get a few laughs. However, my favorite hollywood comedy at the moment would be The Hangover. On TV Entourage and How I Met Your Mother are my favorite comedies and I do watch a lot of Family Guy as well. I don’t read comic texts much and I have never paid much attention the political aspects of a satirical comedy. This is one of the reasons that I chose to take rhetoric of satire, so that I can become more sensitive towards the broader political issue that is being commented on in a show or a movie. The other is that it fit in very well with the rest of my tentative schedule at the time and a Rhetoric class is required for my major.

  5. I too am a big fan of fake news; I’ve been a fan of The Daily Show since “Indecision 2006” and The Colbert Report since the start. Recently, I am particularly a fan of Jon Stewart’s impressions of Glenn Beck’s monologues. Similarly, I also enjoy reading The Onion whenever I have free time. (One of my favorite articles is this one: http://www.theonion.com/articles/republicans-vote-to-repeal-obamabacked-bill-that-w,19025) The way they so efficiently capture the regurgitated rhetoric and inability of politicians to compromise even in extreme situations, is an effective method in portraying the flaws of our current political system.

    In regards to more “traditional” texts of satire, one of my favorites is Candide by Voltaire. Which examines the relationship between blind optimism (and particularly a belief in “the best of all possible worlds”) and the cruel reality of the corrupt world during the Enlightenment era—often touching upon themes of religion, philosophers’ ideas, and class hierarchy.

    I chose to take this course in satire because satire is a concept that genuinely interests me—in a society where entertainment and popular culture is constantly starting to take a more prominent role than academia and individual thought, satire is an effective tool in providing subtle persuasion on an issue through wit without coming across as preachy. Because of this evolving role of satire in our modern society, and my genuine interest in it, it seemed like a obvious decision to enroll in Rhetoric of Satire.

  6. Like most everyone else, I am a fan of several satirical television shows. My favorites are 30 Rock, SNL, and the Colbert Report, but I have definitely enjoyed things like the Daily Show and Family Guy when I’ve watched them. The only major traditional satirical works I’ve read are Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Candide by Voltaire. I chose to take Rhetoric of Satire because satire, even without comedy, seems to me to be one of the most powerful ways to make people think and want to act on a particular issue.

  7. While I don’t often watch television shows, I have started enjoying The Daily Show recently. Additionally, I read The Onion or watch SNL on infrequent occasions. Unfortunately, no particular comic performance or text comes to mind in considering favorites. As such, I decided to take Rhetoric of Satire to increase my exposure to comedy in general, focusing on purposeful humor, while fulfilling the writing requirement needed for graduation.

  8. If I had to choose just one comic text as my favorite, I would have to say The Onion but I enjoy Texas Travesty as well. I prefer television to get my satirical news fix, especially “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live. I also thoroughly enjoyed the 2008 election sketches with Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin. I have not read any literary satire but after reading the excerpts from A Modest Proposal, I would really like to read it. Unfortunately, sometimes these satirical pieces are my only dose of news for the week. I find that they break down some of the barriers between politicians and everyday citizens by making jokes about these issues. I am always intimidated watching the news because the reporters usually assume that you already have an understanding of the issue they are discussing. With the satirical news shows, I find it less intimidating to ask questions to the people around me.

    I have chosen to take rhetoric of satire because I feel that humor is one of the most powerful ways to get your point across, much like Stephen Colbert was doing with his Super PAC.

  9. I have been known to my friends for priding myself, probably foolishly, on the amount of tv I watch, and fortunately a large portion of that consists of comedic satirical shows. My favorites happen to be South Park, The Simpsons, The Daily Show, 30 Rock, and occasionally Family Guy. I also loved Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and thoroughly enjoyed Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift and Barton Fink, a movie written and directed by the Coen brothers satirizing the movie industry of the day, will continue to be one of my favorites. I have always been a big fan of the biting and sometimes dry wit of satirical humor over slapstick and have even tried my hand at producing some myself, using my “Senior Goodbye” article in my school’s newspaper to parody Mark Twain’s Advice to Youth. So in taking this class I’ll get my needed RHE 309 under my belt, but I also hope to learn more about the art of satirical writing and maybe hone the craft myself.

  10. Internet comedy is the most common comedy that I view such as internet memes on Tumblr or other social networking sites. I really enjoy watching Saturday Night Live on the weekends and occasionally comedy cartoon shows like Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show. I don’t have much experience composing satiric work, but I am interested in it.

  11. I read the Onion every week, and enjoy the plentiful humor that the internet has to offer, but my favorite satire is an anime called Astro Fighter Sunred. It’s an anti-genre story that parodies superheros. In the show, superheros and the monsters they fight are real and incredibly ordinary. “Red” the titular hero is not your typical defender of justice. He’s a slacker who mooches off of his girlfriend, a slob, and honestly a bit of an A-Hole sometimes. Inversly, the monsters he fights are all productive members of society who have jobs and personal lives, and are generally perfectly likable people, despite their stated goal of conquering the world. It’s a wonderfully clever show.

  12. My all-time favorite comedy television show is Arrested Development. The writing is brilliant. It’s humor can range anywhere from subtle, inside jokes to being blatant and goofy. Also, I am a big 30 Rock fan, which is a satire of the media business. I really enjoy Parks and Recreation and The Office, both of which could be considered satires; Parks and Recreation a satire of local government and The Office a satire of the workplace. As far as comedic movies, I love Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) and his writing. His movies tend to have a very dry sense of humor. One of the greatest movie-satires that I have seen is Dr. Strangelove.

    I chose to take a class on satire in order to learn about new satirical texts, study the satires that I know of and enjoy, and to hear others’ opinions and thoughts about comedy. I think that this class will help me to decipher arguments that my favorite satirical works are trying to convey with more ease.

  13. My favorite comedy show of all time is definitely The Office. Other shows that i watch are modern family, south park, and arrested development. Although i don’t watch them on a regular basis, i also enjoy family guy, the colbert report, and pretty much any other comedy show on tv.

    I chose to take this course because i enjoy both reading and writing satire. I wrote a few satirical papers in high school, all of which got poor grades because I wasn’t supposed to write satire. Which is probably another reason i was attracted to this class; I hate being serious when i write. Hopefully that will work out for me in this class.

  14. Stumble has offered me a great deal of satirical humor to view and enjoy, ranging from advertisements to articles like from the Onion. Parks and Rec has definitely got my top pick for all-time funny television. I recently started watching Wilfred and found that its humor is also quite entertaining. I think my favorite piece of written satire has got to be Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. After having the background from Hamlet, it was extremely funny to see what these two seemingly unimportant characters from Hamlet go through.

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