Techniques Used to Create Satire
Many people consider satire to be the most intellectual form of comedy because, instead of using just random bits of comicality, satire attacks something serious and often turns it into something absurd. This blend of lighthearted humor and serious critique can be found in various art forms, but it is found most often in literature. Satire writers attempt to point out the flaws of a given subject, which might influence the audience to take action, and maybe chuckle along the way.
Identify Your Goal
According to teacher Rebecca Oberg, to write satire you must know what you want to accomplish and understand your audience. Satire writers often want to bring about change, typically concerning social or political problems. You should also know your audience. If you tackle a political issue, someone who is conservative will not think the same thing is funny as a liberal person would (see Reference 3).
Isn't it Ironic?
Perhaps the satirical device used the most often includes all forms of irony. This tongue-in-cheek style expresses one opinion but implies the opposite. Types of irony include verbal irony, a straightforward method in which the words you say contradict what you mean, and dramatic irony, where the audience knows something the character does not. Additionally, Socratic irony uses fake ignorance to get answers from the audience or from another character, and situational irony involves a discrepancy between actions and their intended effects, such as a fire station burning down or a man who steps aside to avoid a puddle but falls into a pool (see Reference 2).
Another common device for creating satire is exaggeration. The purpose of exaggeration is to represent something beyond what is normal in order to observe its faults, and it can include several techniques. Hyperbole is extreme exaggeration, found in phrases like, “I could sleep for a year” and “there’s enough food to feed an army.” Cartoons often employ caricature, which exaggerates a physical trait. Farce, or inflation, intends to induce laughter by presenting improbable situations, which might include fighting or slapstick comedy (see References 1, 2).
Making it Ridiculous
Satire often points out the flaws of a given subject by presenting it in an absurd manner. Anachronism, for example, places an idea or object in the wrong time period, and malapropism involves deliberately mispronouncing a word for comedic effect. Incongruent elements can also be juxtaposed to make something seem absurd in relation to its surroundings, such as through an oxymoron or linking things that do not go together. Perhaps the most popular tool of the absurd, however, is parody, in which you imitate a person or thing in order to mock the original. Similarly, travesty presents a serious subject in a silly manner, and burlesque involves elevating something ridiculous or trivializing something important (see References 1, 2).
If you really want to take a stab at a particular subject, consider sarcasm as a technique to create satire. Sarcasm is often a sharp remark that shows great contempt or intent to ridicule. Similarly, an invective is a comment given in a harsh or abusive manner that aims to show anger (see Reference 2).
Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.