What Is Satire Comedy?

Greg Hirson/CC-BY-2.0

Satire is commonly defined as a literary genre in which comedic forms, as well as ridicule and exaggeration, are used to focus on human weakness and societal problems. Comedic satire also appears in film, poetry and television.

Satire has been known to incorporate other elements like irony and ridicule to denounce something morally wrong, such as a vice or injustice, through means of mocking that injustice with the aforementioned narrative and comedic techniques.

Satire became very popular during the era of Enlightenment, and American satire dates back to at least the 1700s with publications such as Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack.” Numerous examples of it are still being put to use today. For example, comedic television shows like “The Simpsons” and “The Daily Show” use satire to highlight and criticize important issues in current events and society in general.

There are actually four types of satire: formal satire, indirect satire, Horatian satire and Juvenalian satire. Formal satire, like Alexander Pope’s “Moral Essays,” is usually in the first person and it uses a direct address, whether to the audience or the subject of the criticism. Indirect satire, by contrast, relies on a fictional narrative, like Lord Byron’s “Don Juan.” Horatian satire tends to have a more gentle, playful and sympathetic tone, but it can still be ripe with ridicule. Juvenalian satire is more judgmental, full of harsh insult and withering invective.