Two of the most admired elements in writing are satire and irony. They are very liked for a couple of reasons. First, humor is involved and most people find funny material easier to digest than turgid. Another fact that makes this writing popular is its candy-coated preaching. All in all, writers of satire and irony wish to expose and condemn the foolishness and corruption they see in an individual or a society.
Satire is writing which has the intention of improving humanity by criticizing the fads and foibles of a certain set of people. The writer uses his characters to stand in for real people and in doing so, attempts to expose their silliness, corruption, stupidity and shortcomings. He hopes that those he takes to task will take heed and change their ways. So, simply put, satire is the backbone of such TV shows as The Daily Show and The Steven Colbert show. These two programs contain almost 100% satire and irony. Most political cartoons, jokes and sketches are full of satire and irony.
Many people use the word irony but are not sure exactly what it is. The simplest definition would be to say that irony is a remark which speaks in opposites. Your use of words are opposite or contrary to the idea of what you’re saying or what your listener is expecting to hear. Here are three examples:
- You knock over a glass of wine and say, “Oh, great! There’s goes six dollars down the toilet. “ It isn’t great. There’s no toilet. Literally, it spilled. So, you’re just talking in contradictions. We do it a lot without realizing it.
- My neighbor has a Great Dane dog whose name is Tiny.
- (Joke) A guy goes to his doctor after a series of tests and says, “Okay, Doc, let me hear the news.” The doctor says, “There’s some good new and some bad news. First, the bad news. You have terminal cancer and only have three months to live.” The patient is shocked and says, “What’s the good news?” The doctor says, “Did you see my new blond receptionist?” “Yes,” replied the patient. The doctor nudged him and grinned, “I’m banging her.” (This is total irony in a situation.)
Writers frequently employ these two tools to help change society’s views on a particular subject. Books, plays, TV shows and screenplays can be very popular instruments for changing people’s minds about a certain subject.
Several years back, I wrote a satirical novel entitled VIVA LA EVOLUCION. The title is in Spanish ironically but the book is in English. The work makes fun and attempts to spotlight why so much dumbness exists in our present-day society. I will share a portion of my book with you here so you can see how I employed satire and irony. These two elements can add readers to your audience because people like funny and the humorous over stuffy material any day—and it’s the easiest and most effective way to preach to people.
EXTRACT FROM “VIVA LA EVOLUCION.”
That evening swinger Marvin Pencock spent happy hour at his favorite nightclub in D. C.—a fashionably trendy place called Home. In its previous incarnation, the club was a turn-of-the-century bank in the downtown financial district. The clientele since it entered phase two of its existence has consisted mainly of mid-echelon government workers, lobbyists, want to bes and would bes. If you mixed equal parts of the Playboy Mansion, Pee Wee’s Playhouse and the set of Martha Stewart’s Living, you would have Home–the hip hangout for locals or tourists, be they Democrat or Republican, Libertarians or Independents.
Marvin generally hung out in the lower level of the club, a disco area called The Basement, where martinis and mob dancing were considered the orders of the day. Marvin sat at the bar with his martini and surveyed the place. It was packed. Loud music was playing and the dance floor was jammed. He noticed a rather pretty, very thin woman with long blond hair dancing with a somewhat overweight man. He was an awful dancer while she was quite good. She had an infectious laughter and seemed to be enjoying herself while at the same time being completely oblivious to her partner. As the music got aggressively louder, so did his hands. She finally had all she could take of him and walked off the dance floor. As she made her way over to the bar, the guy followed her. “Hey, honey, where you going?”
“Any place where you’re not,” she laughed with a sneer.
“Is that any way to talk to me, honey? Remember, I’m the guy what’s driving a Lamborghini.”
“Oh, really,” she said as she threw his hand off her butt. “So why don’t you hit the road?”
She gave him a lethal look. He got her message and quickly left to check out the more-friendly field of single women. She took a seat at the bar and played with her hair in a nervous tick sort of way. Suddenly she heard someone laughing. She turned around sharply. Looking at her straight in the eye was Marvin who was seated on the stool next to her. It was obvious he had had one martini too many. In a simple, over-alcoholic grin, he looked like a dead ringer for Alfred E. Newman of Mad Comics. She was definitely not impressed.
“What’s so funny?” she asked him.
“You. You’re one tough lady. Who are you?”
“You don’t recognize me? I’m Attila the Hun’s daughter.” He broke out in laughter. He then leaned over and took a good look at her.
“I know you. You’re that woman who hates Liberals and writes all those books about how terrible they are. You’re Anne Kool-aid, aren’t you?”
“Anne Coolidge, dip shit. Why don’t you have another martini and fall off your stool?”
“Ha, ha, very funny. I’ve got your number. You’re one of the Republican’s secret weapons, aren’t you?”
She bristled a bit. “How would you know, martini eyes?”“You’re really one plucky ducky, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, and who are you? A car salesman?”
“Nope. Just a teeny-weeny part of the bureaucratic machinery. Say, didn’t that guy say he drove you here in a Lamborghini?”
“Yeah, that’s right. Now, any other questions before I give you a license to get lost?”
Marvin laughed and said, “Hey, you’re pretty good with the one liners.”
“I’m glad you noticed. One thing about me, my friend, I always tell it like it is.”
“I find you dull, dull, dull. How’s that for a fit?”
He laughed uproariously. “Hey, you’re all right. For a minute there, I thought you didn’t like me. Allow me to buy you a drink and introduce myself.”
Before she could answer, he yelled to the bartender, “How about another martoonie for me and one of whatever this fantastic lady wants.”
The bartender came over, looked at her and said, “What’s your pleasure?”
As though she had nothing to fear from Marvin, she replied without looking at the bartender, “A Perrier without ice.”
She gave Marvin a slight smile and asserted, “I hope you don’t think this is your ticket to sweet talking me out of my panties.”
He squinted and tried to give her a decent smile. “You don’t think I’m that kind of guy, do you?”
“Please. Does Santa Claus have a beard? Is the pope Catholic?“
“A Perrier girl, huh? Now, what does that mean?”
“For you, it means, yes, I do but not with you.”
The bartender returned with their drinks. She took a look at her glass and it was filled with ice. She gave him one of her lethal glares. “I told you no ice!”
Marvin turned to the bartender and said, “I distinctly heard the lady say no ice. Now go throw it out and just bring her an empty glass.”
She gave Marvin a slight smile. He grinned back and said, “Does this mean you might have sex with me after all?”
“Are you kidding?” she replied. “No, today is not my day to be nice to village idiots.”
The bartender returned with a professional smile and an empty glass. He put it in front of her and walked away. “There you are—one Perrier and no ice,” Marvin said in almost baby talk. “All happy now?”
“Could be. What’s your name?”
He fumbled in his pocket and came up with a business card. He offered it to her with a flourish. She reluctantly took the card and read it out loud in a dull manner. “Dr. Marvin A. Pencock, Deputy Director, National Esoteric Analysis Foundation. Sounds almost important.”
“Not if the General Accounting Office has its way.”
Marvin tittered and then gave her a goofy look, “It’s too ridiculous. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Test me. I ‘m in the mood for some monkeyshines.”
Marvin broke out in a big laugh and slapped her on the back. “Lady, you must be psychic. Monkeyshines? You said it.”
“I’m afraid you’ve lost me, Bonzo.”
“The General Accounting Office today cut down the number of grants we hand out every year from 2,000 to just one.”
“Good for them but bad for you and your martini habit.”
“You telling me.”
“I don’t get what the connection is between the General Accounting Office and my using the word monkeyshines.”
“You’d laugh your head off if I told you,” he smirked.
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that. It takes a lot to make me laugh.”
He leaned in to her, almost spilling his martini on her, and said in a punch-line manner, “We’re giving our one grant this year to some boob out in California doing a study on something called Neotomy. It’s all tied into apes somehow. Monkeyshines? Get it?”
Anne’s face constricted tightly as though she had just been hit by a Mac truck. Marvin took a drink of his martini and continued. “And you know what? He doesn’t want any money – he only wants tap water from 7 of our major cities and here’s the kicker – he wants a gorilla. Have you ever heard of anything so crazy?”
He cracked up and spilled some of his Martini on himself and her. She cringed at him as she flicked some few drops of the liquid from her skirt. He noticed the unsmiling look on her face and said. “Frightening, isn’t it?”
She made herself smile a bit and then asked, “Do you come here often, Marvin?”
“It’s my second home. I have a continuous reservation for this bar stool. Why do you ask, love? Want to hang out and enter the Marvin zone with me?”
“You never know, Marvin. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really must be going. You’re a rather interesting person it turns out. Maybe our paths will cross again one of these days.”
Without giving him a second look, she was up and on her way out of the club. Marvin watched her go with a big sigh. He then turned around to the hottie on his left and said, “How’d you like to jump aboard the Marvin Express?”