Guest commentary: Spoofing politics
Need cheering up about the state of the world? Try frequent doses of humor.
Ever since Doonesbury appeared on the scene in 1970, I've sought solace in political comedy, especially when delivered with economy of words. Here's a review of recent satire by Andy Borowitz and Dave Barry. Some juicy quotes, websites and where to read and support their work.
Borowitz writes for Funny Times and The New Yorker. He posts "Not the News" prominently above his riffs. Examples: "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was caught crouching under Donald J. Trump's Oval Office desk on Wednesday, attempting to disconnect Trump's newly installed nuclear button." Regarding Trump's Secretary of Education: DeVos Comes in Contact with Book for the Very First Time: "After touching the foreign object for approximately one minute, DeVos quickly withdrew her hand and appeared drained by the experience."
President Trump himself is a frequent target: "Trump collapses from Exhaustion after Ninety Minutes of Faking Empathy: The sustained effort of simulating compassion proved too much for someone who has never exercised that part of his brain before,' the White House doctor said." Fair game note: Borowitz (and Barry, too) previously satirized President Obama — admittedly a tougher task.
More "Not the News?" Andy targets the American public as well. Under the headline "Nation with Crumbling Bridges and Roads Excited to Build Giant Wall," Borowitz writes: "New polling suggests most Americans favor the building of border walls over extravagant pet projects like structurally sound freeway overpasses."
Dave Barry's humor is often wordier but similarly droll and truth-elaborating. Every year, in the Funny Times, Barry writes a year in review. All politics. Well, almost. Each month merits eight to 15 paragraphs. A January excerpt: "Assisting the president ... is a crack White House team that includes Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Michael Flynn, Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer, all of whom will, in the coming weeks and months, disappear like teenagers in a Friday the 13th movie." And in March: "...Panels of expert speculators on CNN are being fed intravenously on-air so they don't have to take even a moment's break from speculating about all the alleged things that the Russians have allegedly been up to.... Involved in the 2016 election and currently controlling the Department of Commerce, the Coast Guard and as many as eight state legislatures."
Barry ends the year with Trump's November trip to Asia, purporting to quote the President: "Asia is a very, very important continent containing a tremendous number of Asians." And "the President, sparking outrage in the Middle East, announces plans to move the U. S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Trump Tower, which the president says offers 'a much more favorable lease.'"
Both men have impressive histories as authors, syndicated columnists, bloggers, standup comedians, and movie and TV script writers and actors. You can read their bios on Wikipedia. Both have websites: newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report and davebarry.com. We read both of them in the monthly Funny Times — 24 pages chock-full of great cartoons and writing on a myriad subjects, like parenting, relationships, shopping, science fiction and sports. I can count on a good belly laugh or two each page.