Satire TV

Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era

288 pages

21 illustrations

April, 2009

ISBN: 9780814731994

$26

Paper

Also available in

Subjects:

Media Studies

Authors

Jonathan Gray is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of Television Entertainment, Television Studies (with Amanda D. Lotz), Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts, and Watching with The Simpsons: Television, Parody, and Intertextuality.

All books by Jonathan Gray

Jeffrey P. Jones is Associate Professor of Communication & Theatre Arts at Old Dominion University. He is the author of Entertaining Politics: New Political Television and Civic Culture and co-editor of The Essential HBO Reader.

All books by Jeffrey P. Jones

Ethan Thompson is Associate Professor at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi. He is the author of Parody and Taste in Postwar American Television Culture, and co-editor of Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era.

All books by Ethan Thompson

Satirical TV has become mandatory viewing for citizens wishing to make sense of the bizarre contemporary state of political life. Shifts in industry economics and audience tastes have re-made television comedy, once considered a wasteland of escapist humor, into what is arguably the most popular source of political critique. From fake news and pundit shows to animated sitcoms and mash-up videos, satire has become an important avenue for processing politics in informative and entertaining ways, and satire TV is now its own thriving, viable television genre.

Satire TV examines what happens when comedy becomes political, and politics become funny. A series of original essays focus on a range of programs, from The Daily Show to South Park, Da Ali G Show to The Colbert Report, The Boondocks to Saturday Night Live, Lil’ Bush to Chappelle’s Show, along with Internet D.I.Y. satire and essays on British and Canadian satire. They all offer insights into what today’s class of satire tells us about the current state of politics, of television, of citizenship, all the while suggesting what satire adds to the political realm that news and documentaries cannot.

Reviews

  • “This smart and savvy crew has noticed something creeping up on us, something with bite. Now we have to take satire TV seriously; it turns out to be the bearer of the democratic spirit for the post-broadcast age. In this field-shaping book, some of the brightest talents in TV studies show us how the marginal has become the model for a much-needed media make-over. See what happens when entertainment bares its teeth.”

    —John Hartley, author of Television Truths

  • “It has been said that if you have to explain a joke, it’s not funny. This wonderful collection proves that nothing could be farther from the truth. Satire TV takes the study of comedy in new directions, expanding beyond earlier work done on classical Hollywood cinema and the sitcom. In politically trying times, the contributors to this volume reveal through analysis of programs such as South Park, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report, laughter is not the best medicine—it is the surgeon’s scalpel.”

    —Heather Hendershot, editor of Nickelodeon Nation: The History, Politics and Economics of America’s Only TV Channel for Kids

  • “These sharp, compelling essays respond to the current state of American politics, which is characterized by politicians abandoning shame, news media trivializing political news, and commentators screaming at one another. . . . Many young Americans consider satirical television news their primary source of news, and this volume helps one understand why. Stewart, Colbert, et al. take news seriously. They may be the only ones left on television who do. . . . Highly recommended.”

    Choice

  • “The authors of Satire TV make no bones about it: Satire is a gateway drug that does more good for democracy than harm....This book offers historical depth and theoretically sophisticated approaches to satire TV’s contemporary breadth.”

    Journal of Communication Inquiry

  • “. . . the book has succeeded. It made me think outside the points made by the various essayists. It made me think about how I now consume the news.”

    —410Media.com

  • Satire TV represents a valuable investigation into the somplex relationships among mediated politics, televisual comedy, media reception, and democratic participation. With academic studies of comedy still representing a somewhat small (but ever-growing) facet of the media studies canon, Gray, Jones, and Thompson's anthology represents a worthy primer on the broad functions of satirical media, a timely investigation of a contemporary televisual phenomenon, and an argument for further examination of the political dimensions of television comedy."

    —Evan Elkins, Scope Cinema Journal

  • "Satire TV presents twelve well written essays, rife with deep analysis of the value of satire television and its functions toward breaking down elitist discourse and creating oppotunities for pubilc content."

    —James Maritato, Journal of the American Forensic Association