Now, as you know, I'm not one to knock other so-called 'satire' sites (OK, I'm lying. I love
ripping the piss out of them), but sometimes I come across something on such a site which just screams
out to be ridiculed. In this case its an incredibly pompous post by a 'writer' on the message board of a certain very well known 'satire' site which tries to lay out some guidelines for us hacks. It's too long to reproduce in full, but I'll share some of the 'highlights' with you (the publication's name has been removed).
"This is the new
XXXXX assignment board, which anyone can open up. It is for assigning excellent comedy tasks or giving inspirational ideas.I AM LEAVING THIS FORUM FROZEN FOR FUTURE
XXXXX ALERT!!!!I found a site with the funniest names in the world for you to use on your stories. The names secretly say an odd name. If your reader is intelligent they will get caught by surprise and throw out a laugh. These are a few funny names without surprises: Goofy, Maynard, Dufus, Bluto, Goobert, Fanny, Titsy
God damn! That's where I've been going wrong all these years! Screw satire, I should have been using more fake names which are also double entendres!
Here's an example of this guy's suggested 'story assignments' for other writers:
"We need a story accusing Britney Speers of being disrespectful for trying to have sex with men. Demand from Britney that she have sex instead with lesbian women who are also a bunch of disrespectful opportunist. Use the picture of that demonic toy gremlin and under it put "Britney Speers" Put a statement in the story where a politician tells reporters, "Britney should sleep with a woman to know how it feels being an innocent man." We are news reporters and this is part of the job.This will be a powerful story and it will lure thousands of people into your page producing amazement at the unusual perception.
'Unusual perception' is one way of describing his fixation on Britney and lesbianism, I suppose (a large number of his story suggestions are along similar lines, and he even suggests a reference work on the subject of lesbianism for research purposes).
"Primatology is the study of primates. It is a diverse discipline and primatologists can be found in departments of biology, anthropology, psychology and many others. Physical anthropology is a branch of primatology, which is the primatology of the genus Homo, especially Homo sapiens. The fields cross over in the study of the hominids, which include all ape-like ancestors of man and the other great apes (for a list of common ancestors with other living species see The Ancestor's Tale).
No shit? Fascinating, I'm sure, but utterly random. Here are some more random nuggets of wisdom:
"mel·o·dra·mat·ic adj1. behaving, speaking, done, or said in a way that is more dramatic, shocking, or highly emotional than the situation demands2. relating to or typical of melodramafur·lough n1. a period of leave granted to a prisoner, usually as a reward for good behavior and to reduce incarceration costs
Thank God you clarified those definitions. How foolish I'd have felt if, in my ignorance, I'd used those terms wrongly!
"Random subject search:cats and dogs living togetherthe end of the worldjokes on mistakes made by religion - religious hypocrisy is a hot topic now, build on it and ride the wave.humiliating famous peoplehead hunterssex - most popularstupid things that happenlaws that authority violatespolitical promiseswomen's weaknesses stupid looking animals - example: slow turtles, flamingos, ugly bats, snails, roaches, fleas, dodo birds and any animal that is really goofy to catch a laugh.
You've saved my life - just when my ideas were beginning to dry up, you've given me an inexhaustible source of humourous stories! I'll go off and write that satirical piece about head hunters humiliating famous people with stupid looking animals right now!
" This is the only way to become a good comedy writer:The best way to improve your comedy is to watch stand up comedians and take notes every time you hear the crowd laugh. Write down the joke that made the crowd laugh and then analyze the joke to discover the components that sparked the laughter.
Actually, I thought maybe being able to write, having an original take on events and, er, being funny, came into it somewhere. Obviously, I'm wrong. I should
be following a strict formula for every story, ensuring they all include such surefire satirical elements as lesbianism, Britney Spears and cats and dogs living together.
Is it any wonder that 90% of online 'satire' sites publish utter shite, when their 'writers' think along these lines? The idea that analysing stand up comedy routines can somehow help improve one's attempts at written
satire lies at the root of this malaise. The two things are entirely different beasts. A lot of stand up comedy is still based around banging out a series of 'gags', all self-contained, with neat punchlines. Writing stories
requires the development of ideas
, leading to some kind of comic or ironic conclusion. Just stinging together a series of 'gags' (or even worse, just presenting a single 'gag' in written form), does not constitute a 'story'.
Depressingly, this particular forum post was followed by responses from the site's other 'writers' telling this guy that they really didn't need his advice because they were already
successful satirists, having written and published literally hundreds
of stories apiece. Hundreds
. All of them utter shit. All of them too piss poor to be published anywhere
other than on the site in question. A site which will publish stories submitted by anyone
. Presumably on the basis that, by the law of averages, at least one
of them must be good. Sadly, none
are. In fact, the overwhelming majority aren't even stories
as such, in my opinion. At best, they're just ideas
which, in the hands of someone with talent, might form the basis of a story. As it is, they're just a couple of hundred words, often not arranged into any combination which constitutes intelligible English. In other words, they're just 'gags'. There's no development of ideas or themes, no clever reversals of reader expectation, nothing. Just simple (and usually not very funny) 'gags'.
Needless to say, the site in question isn't
a member of Humorfeed
. It just wouldn't make the grade. If you want to read real
online satire, written by intelligent human beings who grasp the rudiments of written English, take a look at any
of the sites on Humorfeed
Labels: The State of Online Satire