Fake News: A Lens on Satire

Dec 3, 2012

I grew up in an era when the "political humorist" was a segregated specialty. 

Mort Sahl, Pat Paulsen, Mark Russell. These guys weren't part of the pack of regular comedians. It was the humor equivalent of a semi-obscure edical specialty. One saw them only occasionally. Like your dentist. Maybe twice a year. 

Political jokes were also a staple of late night television -- just the way they still are. They were jokes about quirks and well-known foibles. Dan Quayle was stupid, Bill Clinton was horny. Reagan died his hair. Gerald Ford was clumsy. 

Something changed. Political humor and mainstream comedy grew closer together. And it isn't relegated to any particular place. It's everywhere. The Onion. The weekly Saturday Night Live cold open. And, most importantly, in Comedy Central's two reigning late night fake news shows. Today, we're going to talk about that.