Sunday, May 13, 2007

How to write good...satire

Every good satire possesses two key qualities. The first is "relevance". The second is "restraint".

Let's examine this, shall we?


There is nothing funny about satire that has no relevance. Good satire is like a good analogy. Or rather, bad satire is like a bad analogy. It simply doesn't get its point across. For example, let's say I were to try to satirize "Yoga Chickie", the blog, not the person. I would probably start with something like:

"Today I went up to visit my new and oh so fabulous house in the country, and by country I mean suburbs, and by suburbs, I mean affluent bedroom community within an hour's drive of New York City, which is where I really wish I could live, were it not for the ridiculous private school tuitions and my, oh, dare I say it, failure to keep up with the Joneses. Afterwards, I practiced all of Primary and part of Second because, really, what business is it of anyone else's whether I practice only the poses my teacher taught me or if I practice the poses I could be practicing if I were attending, say, Jivamukti or Om classes. I almost bound in Pasasana, and by almost, I mean that I was able to bind around one leg with my heels supported by two rolled up mats, one on top of the other. I did my Kapotasana on top of a folding chair. But it felt good, and really, I simply don't see anything wrong with it."

What I would NOT write, due to lack of relevance, would be something like:

"Today I was hung over because I got so shitfaced last night with a bunch of my friends that I am not even sure how I got home, let alone how my husband reacted when he saw that I was not wearing the clothes that I had gone out in, but rather the minidress of a total stranger whom I met in the ladies room of Tenjune, which I wanted to wear because it was like, a size 00, and I just KNEW I would fit into it, and how totally psyched I was when I did. I didn't practice today, but I so wish that I did. Ah, there's always tomorrow."

See, the latter passage fails the first litmus test of a good satire, relevance, because it has nothing to do with the target (my blog) at all.


Even if a satire is relevant, it might fail to be effective if it fails the "restraint" test.

If a satire goes overboard, it stops being funny. A satire could go overboard in one of two ways, either by repeating itself excessively without adding anything new and interesting. OR, through sheer exaggeration.

I would say that the "pink" bloggers who have appeared out of nowhere recently are an example of a failure of the first type of restraint (well, aside from the fact that they lack relevance). Let's just assume for the moment, for argument's sake, that there is something relevant about a purported ashtanga blog written by a purported 20-year old who makes Elle Woods (pre-Harvard) look deep and philosophical. Assuming that there were anything about such a satire that would ever resonate with actual ashtanga bloggers, there would still be the problem of excessive "look at me!" postings followed by numerous comments all written within the same two-minute period by purportedly different people. Such lack of restraint creates an inescapable aura of inauthenticity. And wthout authenticity, a "spell" of sorts is broken; disbelief can no longer be suspended. And without that suspension of disbelief, the satire, purported satire, that is, ceases to be relevant. Do not pass go, do not collect twenty Google ad cents.

An example of a failure of the second type of restraint - of going overboard through sheer exaggeration would be Bad Lady. Damn, but wasn't she funny as all hel when she started (assuming she is a she)! She passed the threshhold test of relevance right out of the gate when she told us that she was an ashtangi but didn't observe moon days, didn't follow the sequence and was on meds but didn't always take them. It was freakin' brilliant!! It hit us right on the nose as ashtangis, as people who are flawed and real, as people who are working at being spiritual and devotional, but people who are, nevertheless, real people who live in the real world. Bravo, Bad Lady.

But then....oy. Bad Lady went overboard with the whole "Flatsie came to visit and she wears a sarong that looks like a sanitary napkin and gave my boyfriend a blowjob while I sat in the backseat" business. And so on, with the result being that the more outrageous Bad Lady became, the less relevant was was (is).I guess it always comes back to relevance. Ultimately, the failure of a satire will be a failure of it to be relevant. A good satire will sing and sting (and will often fail miserably at the practice of ahimsa) because of is relevance. On the other hand, a poorly executed satire will leave people wondering, "the hell?"



Kathryn said...

I guess I'm a little bit behind on the blog lingo...what's a "'pink' blogger"?

Cheri said...

Sure are all up in my pink businesses.
You are worse than my english proffesor.

Cheri said...

Cause you see, I noticed the times that those "fake" commentors posted. Noted the time you wrote your post. I was in bed honey.
You were up.
Hmm. Hello sammy? Hello Charri?

Cody Pomeray said...

what if the satire is not aimed at one particular blog/ger but at the act of (yoga) blogging in and of itself? Then the banality would be reinforcing the core concept not diluting it.

"YC" said...

Cody - I think that for the most part, the satires we have been seeing around here have been aimed at the act of yoga blogging, and not at one particular blog. However, these so-called satires are not on the mark at all, although Bad Lady was, at first. Then she got so far off point, it ceased being on target. The "pink" bloggers bear no resemblance to any type of yoga blog I have ever seen. They're more like MySpace blogs that have the word yoga thrown in here and there. For that reason, none of it seems particularly funny. I would LOVE it if someone would create a satirical yoga blog, skewering our true foibles - the hypocracy that is inherent in living in the real world while trying to practice the eight limbs...I would LOVE it. I wish someone would do it. If I did it, it would be too obvious that it was me. So, it will have to be someone else...


YogaDawg said...

Try the YogaDawg Yoga satire site

Pure satire of the Yoga scene which a lot of Yogis are finding funny if the YogaDawg Buzz page is to believed.

Carl said...

Technically speaking, Bad Lady is burlesque, not satire.

Gypsy Judy said...

This comment chain is pure satire

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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