What's So Funny About Politics?

Sure, politics aren't supposed to be funny, but you know that saying, if I weren't laughing I'd be crying? Well, the library is full of books and movies that will make you laugh, and will also make you think. Comedians and satirists can highlight inequality and injustices in a society by using humor to exaggerate them and further illuminate these challenges. No matter what your politics, there's something for everyone here!

The graphic novel format is perfect for Charlie Anders' Rock Manning Goes for Broke. In an America where 1984-level misinformation and drug epidemics spiral out of control, we meet Rock Manning, self-destructive master of tumbling, slapstick, and chaos. A 24/7 ball of energy, Rock teams up with aspiring filmmaker Sally Hamster to create a series of viral videos based on his Jackass-style bravado and stuntwork. But as a sinister militia grows in power and America goes to war against poorly-defined foes, Sally and Rock try to find their way in a world falling apart.

The authors of The Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin' Dixie Outta the Dark are a three man stand-up comedy group. Their form of political satire celebrates all the great things about the South (music, athletes, whiskey, waffles) while issuing a wake-up call that the South has all the same problems as the rest of the United States. This manifesto skewers political and religious hypocrisies both with words and hilarious graphics.

And now for something a bit more academic--The Politics of Petulance: America in an Age of Immaturity by Alan Wolfe. When you see a book is from the University of Chicago Press, it's a pretty sure bet it's gonna get deep. Both the left and the right take it on the chin in this tough-minded analysis. I did promise humor though, and you'll have to make it to chapter five to find "Tragedy, Comedy, and American Democracy."

Another graphic novel worth a look is Amongst the Liberal Elite: the Road Trip Exploring Societal Inequities Solidified by Trump (RESIST). Elly Lonon spares no one with her satirical wit, and Joan Reilly's drawings are graphic genius. On the surface, this story may resemble a screed against conservatives. But it also lasers in on the distractions that sometimes keep liberals from winning. It's a quick read for those seeking visual entertainment with their reading, but don't miss the layers and layers of subtext in every stroke of the pen, every hilarious anecdote, every turn of the page. 

Rather watch a movie than read a book? Dear Dictator tells the story of a British-Caribbean dictator who is forced to flee his own island nation and decides the safest place to bunk up is with his pen pal in suburban America. He decides to teach her how to form a revolution and dethrone the mean girls at her high school. Seriously, that's Katie Holmes and Michael Caine on the cover!

Our Brand is Crisis is overflowing with A-listers! The set­ting is Bo­livia 2002, where a right-wing politi­cian has hired leg­endary US spin doc­tor ‘Calami­ty’ Jane Bo­d­ine (San­dra Bul­lock) to come out of re­tire­ment and mas­ter­mind his elec­tion cam­paign. Her neme­sis is the equally for­mi­da­ble Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thorn­ton), reignit­ing an old feud that puts score-set­tling be­fore pol­i­tics. Sparks fly, but the grim cyn­i­cism of mod­ern pol­i­tics adds sub­ver­sive weight to the film’s screw­ball com­edy stylings and has a lot to say about mod­ern pol­i­tics, in the US as well as abroad.

Sara Taksler's Tickling Giants profiles Bassem Youssef, the political satirist known as "The Egyptian Jon Stewart." During his several years hosting a political comedy show in his native country, Youssef (a former cardiac surgeon) and his team were faced with threats, protests, lawsuits, government oppression and eventually cancellation. His fascinating and often amusing story is well recounted in this fine documentary.

The laughs come in jolts and waves in The Death of Stalin, delivered in a brilliantly arranged mix of savage one-liners, lacerating dialogue and perfectly timed slapstick that wouldn’t be out of place in a Three Stooges bit. Turning horror into comedy is nothing new, but director Armando Iannucci’s unwavering embrace of these seemingly discordant genres as twin principles is bracing. In this movie, fear is so overwhelming, so deeply embedded in everyday life that it distorts ordinary expression, utterances, gestures and bodies. 

Want to combine humor, politics and beer? Consider dropping into the Get Lit Pop Up Book Club later this month at Declaration Brewing! We'll be discussing John Hickenlooper's The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and PoliticsLocal author and journalist Ed Sealover will be there to fill us in on the backroom politics he covered during his time with the Denver Business Journal during Hick's rise in politics, and he knows a thing or two about beer and where to drink it in Colorado too! Click here to get all the details from our events calendar.

Written by Dodie on January 11, 2019