Saturday, December 19, 2009

Laughter and Authority

My Fellow Comedists,

A question this weekend about the power of comedy. Here's a quotation from Hannah Arendt:

"Authority:...Its hallmark is unquestioning recognition by those who are asked to obey; neither coercion nor persuasion is needed. To remain in authority requires the greatest respect for the person in office. The greatest enemy of authority, therefore, is contempt, and the surest way to undermine it is laughter."
Does this overstate the power of comedy? Are comedians the biggest threat to authority? Is Stephen Colbert more powerful than George Stephanopolis? Was the Katie Couric interview or the SNL bits with Tina Fey that most undermined Sarah Palin's authority (o.k., other than Palin herself...)?

How much power does the jester wield?

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve