Satire as the killer

Published by Tony Quinlan on

Last year, I went to Robert McKee’s comedy seminar. One of the many apposite comments he made was regarding the need for a satirist to be angry about something in order to be able write. The focus of the day was John Cleese’s "A Fish Called Wanda" and Cleese’s fury at English manners and politeness.

He also talked about successful satire effectively skewering its subject matter to the point where old cliches can no longer be indulged. (After Mel Brooks’ "Blazing Saddles", the western genre was extinct until Clint Eastwood resurrected a different, blacker take on it with "Unforgiven".)

I immediately left deciding that we needed a skewering satire to kill off all those bad management practices that plague us.

I still think that way, but have realised that not only do we have that satire in Dilbert, but that many of those it is satirising read it, find it funny and then go back to those same behaviours. So, either satire doesn’t quite kill as effectively as we hope or pointy-haired managers are as dense and as populous as we feared all along.