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Funny Books - Satiristas! Photographs by Dan Dion - Interviews by Paul Provenza

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Satiristas: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgarians
Photographs by Dan Dion
Interviews by Paul Provenza
IT Books 2010
368 pages

Superb book, stupid ass title.  Satiristas combines Dan Dion's comedian photographs and interviews with many of the same satire comics and artists by Paul Provenza. A Dan Dion photograph is almost the same thing as listening to the comic. In some cases like the Lewis Black or Chris Rock picture it is the same thing. Provenza, of Aristocrats fame, delivers the most intelligent interviews with comics I have read; the comics and satirists actually say something.

Satiristas features more than 70 black and white and 35 color photographs of various sizes as well as 61 interviews with comics as varied as Lily Tomlin, Doug Stanhope, Dave Attell, and Jay Leno. It also includes interviews with satirists who are not stand-up like Randy Newman (of Family Guy Twinkie episode fame), Jello Biafra, Lizz Winstead, and Culture Clash. Personal favorites include Jamie Kilstein, Leno, Bill Burr, and Rick Shapiro.

Provenza is a stand-up comedy expert and excellent interviewer but he is somewhat heavy handed here. His agenda is satire can change the world but almost all the artists insist funny must come first and most believe satire perhaps changes one person's mind, sometimes, on a good day. Only a few like Jamie Kilstein and Janeane Garofalo really agree. This said the theory makes for great interviews.

One thing that makes Satiristas stand out is how well it segues. One of many examples is the Lily Tomlin interview sets up Judd Apatow's. Apatow talks about The Graduate and this sets up the interview with director Mike Nichols.

As for the premise, Jay Leno, who gets punched around by the other comics in Satiristas nails it: "Most people go to see performers who believe as they do, who think like they do. ... Comedy is basically a cowardly act. It never changes anybody's mind. It only reinforces what they already believe." (Satiristas, p. 108)

Satire is comic attire. The only thing deader than Lenny Bruce is his material. In ten years George Carlin will be remembered for Class Clown and FM & AM.

Satire may not last but Satiristas will. I just wish there had been more and bigger portraits.

The book goes on sale May 11th 2010  ISBN 9780061859342

Richard Lanoie

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