Charged Humor versus Satire

I found the Krefting article quite interesting. I had never heard of the terms “cultural citizenship” or “charged humor” before. The idea of these terms are far from unknown, however. Charged humor has been popular for decades, but in recent years, the voices of what Krefting calls “second class citizens” have been able to have the spotlight as the nation as a whole has been more accepting (albeit, quite gradually) of the oppressed in pop culture-minorities, homosexuals, women, etc.

Krefting mentions some familiar names of “charged humor” stand up comedians; George Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Maz Jobrani, Louis C.K… One of those doesn’t seem like the rest huh? I liked how she mentioned white comedians like Louis C.K can take part in charged comedy as well when they call attention to white privilege themselves. Someone else mentioned Bo Burnham in their blog post-I thought of him as well in this article. Krefting says that charged humor is personal and aims to incite change. I think it’s good to acknowledge all of the talented minority comedians for their powerful work but also acknowledged the “more privileged” white (male) comedians who try to make their white listeners realize their privilege and think about the injustices others face.

Krefting mentions that charged humor addresses “social inequalities, national contradictions, and calls attention to hateful language, power relations and cultural grievances.” I was thoroughly impressed by Negin Farsad’s TED talk, not only for mentioning nearly all of those points, but for doing so in a powerful and hilarious manner. I feel as though she has a nearly flawless charged humor piece here. She’s easy to listen to, witty, clever, and never comes off as mean spirited (isn’t attacking you for being different from her, just classily attacking the jerks) ((which is how some charged comedians can come off-as if all white people are at fault for their minority’s grievances)). The entire talk is quite funny with discussion bits of very real & serious issues.

The Coe article brings up an interesting point about modern satire-in today’s political climate, the reality of the situation is practically a joke itself at times. I thought the John Oliver video went well with this article. Oliver discusses civil forfeiture (a pretty serious issue), provides real info about the issue & shares real (albeit outrageous) stories, and also throws little bits of silly-funny humor in throughout his rant. This video honestly made me think more about the issue and raised my awareness (as did Farsad in her TED talk).

The purest goal of charged humor is to plant a seed of change. Satire can have the goal to plant a seed of change as well, but more often satire today has the goal of getting the laughs. What is required to allow those seeds of change to actually grow in people??? Do comedians have to warm up to people first before packing a “charged” punch? Does the seed need to be planted in a specific way? Does it just depend on the comedian? How often do they need to water the seed until it starts to grow? Or maybe the listeners just need to be in the right mentality… As Farsad mentioned, laughter creates openness in people. Is comedy the most effective gateway to get people to realize the changes they should make to better society?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s