In a time of widespread political upheaval and uncertainty in countries around the world, political debate has become increasingly toxic. It is often said that politics is currently impossible to satirize yet increasing numbers of people are getting their news and political analysis from comedy programmes such as The Daily Show, The Mash Report, Last Week Tonight, and Full Frontal.
Satire remains one of the few mediums of political commentary and analysis that allows for nuanced engagement and discussion, making current affairs accessible and digestible. So the question is not ‘is satire dead?’ but rather ‘is satire more important than ever?’.
This panel discusses the state of modern satire and what role, if any, political comedy should play in the traditional realm of journalism: holding power to account. Is everyone in public life a legitimate target for satire or must political comedy be careful to always punch upwards? Even when punching up, given the vitriol now directed at politicians and public figures on social media, how do satirists and political comedians avoid simply becoming another negative voice in the pile on? Is the current political climate enough to explain the growing popularity of satire and political comedy as a form of journalism? And must a joke always be justifiable, or is the real issue only whether the comedy makes people laugh or not?
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Yasmeen Serhan, Staff Writer, The Atlantic
Tim Telling, Editor, The Daily Mash (2012-2019); Lead Writer, The Mash Report
Chair: Keith Burnet, Managing Director, Communications and Publishing, Chatham House