What is satire?
Let’s get that out of the way first.
Satire is just humor with a purpose.
That’s all. There’s no mystery involved. It’s not that complicated. Satire is a vehicle you use to take people somewhere.
1. Find an issue or an idea that you think is interesting and needs to be discussed and wrestled with by you and lots of other people.
2. Blow the topic up. In a humorous way, make it larger than life and so big that everyone can see it. Stretch it and exaggerate it until it’s no longer just a small idea that only a few people can see but is now a massive point of discussion.
3. Turn the idea into a mirror that reflects back on the audience you are writing to. It can’t be so silly and ridiculous that it’s no longer true. The undercurrent of truth has to be present in the satire.
4. Stand next to the mirror and, in an eloquent way, encourage the audience to look at their reflection. Ask them, “Is that who we are? Are we OK with that? Is that who we want to be? Is that what we want to do?”
5. Create a space where the audience can easily answer and discuss their responses.
The trick is that, as the writer or speaker, you have to stand beside the mirror in such a way that it reflects on you too. You have to be in that reflection too. The temptation for us writers is to step behind the mirror we create. To hide behind it and, instead of creating a conversation, launch an attack. To shine a bright mirror into the faces of the readers without ever looking in the mirror ourselves.
That’s how I write satire.
Have you ever read something satirical that unexpectedly challenged the way you think about something?