Satire – As American as apple pie

(VOVWORLD) - Humor, comedy, and wit … and American satire. Study after study in the past decade has indicated that Americans under the age of 35 get their news primarily from satirical TV comedy shows. In this week’s edition of “Culture Rendezvous”, we’ll talk to American Scott Matt again to find out what American satire is all about.

Q: Hello Scott! Welcome back to VOV24/7’s Culture Rendezvous. What is satire and how it is used in American comedy shows?

A: Satire is making fun of something by pretending to be that thing. A great example of satire was The Colbert Report with a guy named Stephen Colbert. What he did was he made fun of the news and made fun of the Republicans by acting like a Republican. He was not acting like himself, he was acting like a character he made up. And the character was like the people he was making fun of. So he made a character, and he acted like a really big idiot to show that Republicans can be big idiots. So satire is making fun of something by imitating it.

Q: Why do Americans like satire?

A: Because it’s amazing. It’s taking these things that are big parts of our everyday life and letting us laugh at them. There’s almost nothing better than that. It wasn’t like I’m turning on the news, but the only thing that was talked about was the news. They made fun of the news.

Satire – As American as apple pie - ảnh 1

“The Colbert Report”, hosted by Stephen Colbert, has been nominated for Outstanding Variety Series every year of its existence, which was said to be the best satire on TV

(Photo: Scott Gries/AP)

Q: Is satire only used in the news?

A: There are other forms of satire that have nothing to do exactly with the news. These are satirical cartoons like my favorite ones “South Park” and “Rick and Morty”. These shows are great. “South Park” I think is undisputedly the king of satirical cartoons. It was really far and away the first cartoon to be super heavy with satire that I know and it didn’t even start that way, just started out as a really funny and really stupid show. And now it’s a really funny, really stupid, really smart, and satirical show. It’s amazing. The guys that make it are geniuses. They just do an amazing job, making fun of everything. It’s so good. They make fun of people’s abortions, government, celebrities…anything. They do it on purpose. And they do such a good job of it.

Q: Tell me about satire in the “South Park” episode that you like the most.

A: There’s an episode where they were making fun of guns and how guns don’t solve any problems. Everyone in the show had guns. The families are at the dinner table. They start pointing a gun at each other’s face and shout “I will shoot you in the head, shoot you!” Then they all take a deep breath and are like “Hahhh, I feel better now”. Wow, guns really do solve problems. You know, obviously they’re making fun of it. They’re not saying guns solve problems. They’re showing how stupid it is, like “this will never work”. People are not going to point guns at each other’s face and then just calm down and relax. They made it look so stupid on purpose. They’re making fun of it. That’s how satire works.

Satire – As American as apple pie - ảnh 2 "Guns: clearly the solution" episode in South Park satirical cartoon (Photo: 

Q: Is satire common in American’ daily conversation?

A: Some people maybe can be very satirical, but it’s not easy. To do satire, you have to imitate something else in a very clever way, and you have to imitate something while also really not imitating something, you’re making fun of it at the same time. You know, it’s an art form. It’s very hard to do it. As soon as you start getting into satire, it’s almost like you’re putting on a performance. And not many people go so far in a normal conversation to start putting on a performance when they’re just talking to their co-workers and friends. Some people do and these people are very funny, but most people don’t.

Q: But people must be hurt or angry if they’re made fun of, especially celebrities.

A: Yes. Some people get super angry, but I think that’s the point. When you’re making satire, there are only two reasons you make fun of people, really. One is because you think that they are stupid. And you want to show everyone: Hey! That person is stupid, and you’re going to make fun of them. So if they’re angry, you don’t care, that’s the whole point. The whole point is not making them happy or something like that. It’s to show everyone that these people, these famous people, they’re not something special, and they’re probably idiots. The other thing is maybe the people on that satire show know that celebrity, it’s their friend and they’re making fun of them. Because it’s fun to make fun of your friends, but it’s all different then, I don’t think someone would get angry about that. 

Q: How does satire reflect American culture?

A: America is still the place where there is, not total freedom, but a lot of freedom, maybe more than most of the rest of the world, to make fun of yourself, to make fun of your government, to make fun of the country, and to make fun of everything that people care about. The thing is that, you know, people hold to their heart like the government, like religion, the thing that if you make fun of it, you will make people so angry. You’re allowed to make fun of it and you don’t have to apologize, and you don’t have to hide it. If you have an opinion, you’re allowed to share that opinion. That’s what satire says about American people.

Q: What make a successful comedy show?

A: Making a good satire show, it’s not easy, that’s very hard. Most people do not get famous from that. It takes a lot of work. People who do make a successful career out of satire, that’s really hard. They have to be very smart. They have to come up with really clever ideas. They have to not only be able to think of good ideas but they have to be funny at the same time, and then combine the good ideas with the comedy into an entertaining way to the viewer. And it’s special because a lot of satire doesn’t make fun of things that happened a hundred years ago, a thousand years ago. It makes fun of things that are happening right now. So they always have to know what’s going on in the world. Every single thing they do has to be something new. They have to do it now because it’s making fun of the things that are happening now. It’s really hard work. 

Q: Thank you, Scott, for talking about American satire. For VOV24/7’s Culture Rendezvous, I’m Thu Ly, saying goodbye to you until next time!


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