Satire, the once-popular cultural icon held by many to have shaped the fortunes of princes, presidents and empires, died last week after a long battle with political correctness and reality television. Satire was 42,008 years old.
Born in a humble cave in the mountains of northern Italy, young Satire first made his mark around the campfires of his home region, winning acclaim as a keen observer of Cro Magnon life. One of his most popular early routines involved the character Hunter, a club-wielding alpha male who killed the most deer and coupled with the most women, but really just wanted to invent agriculture.
|Fred Dryer played ‘Hunter’ in the cave paintings|
Satire later made Hunter a regular character on Ice Age Live!, a long running late night sketch comedy revue. The most popular sketches were made into cave paintings, including ‘Hunter and his sidekick Gatherer call in sick and go wooly mammoth hunting instead’, ‘Hunter gets into a sticky situation when he loses Gatherer in the peat bog’, and ‘I now pronounce you Hunter and Gatherer.’
The discovery of fire led to the rise of slapstick comedy, and Satire went through a number of lean years. Then in 20 B.C. he engineered the first of many reinventions of himself. He changed his name to Reynard Obliquian Satyricon, and became the toast of Rome — Augustus called him “the sly fox” of political comedy. During this time, Satire’s greatest bit involved Roman leaders naming the months of the year after themselves. When the time came to decide who would be the shortest month, Februarius objected that “I just went swimming, I’m normally much longer than 28 days.”
Satire became a symbol of high culture for the next two millennia. Satire was everywhere, often in the company of a ‘rat pack’ of cultural indicators, including fermentation, batter-dipped fried food and Sammy Davis, Jr. Satire returned briefly to Rome, giving a benefit concert for the Galileo Defense Fund, joking that “the real problem is that the Pope thinks the universe revolves around him.”
Later, Satire formed a comedy troupe with Thomas Malthus, Jonathan Swift and Adam Smith, to great acclaim.
In recent years Satire showed no signs of slowing. Dave Barry, The Onion, The Simpsons and the Capitol Steps seemed to show Satire at the height of his game.
However, what was not widely known was that Satire had been ill for some time, suffering from Reaganoma since 1980. A few years later, MTV’s The Real World debuted, and appreciation for Satire rapidly went downhill. Earlier this year, an ABC-Ipsos poll found that few Americans had heard of Satire.
Then last Monday Satire was badly injured when the cover illustration of The New Yorker fell flat. Passersby and the media failed to notice Satire’s condition for nearly a day, before he was found and rushed to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital. He lingered for four days, passing away on Friday.
His fourth wife, Tracey Ullmann, was with him at the end. According to her, his last words were: “either that wallpaper goes, or tell them I said something.”