The Dangers of Satire
Some of the satirists from the 1950s used their entertainment platforms to do more than simply entertain. Following the assassination of President Kennedy, Mort Sahl, who had written jokes for Kennedy and had satirized him mercilessly, launched an attack on the veracity of the Warren Report that left his audiences unsettled. In the last years of his life, Lenny Bruce spent large portions of his act commenting on his own legal battles fighting obscenity charges. Dick Gregory’s career as a comedian often was interrupted as he became deeply involved in the civil rights, antiwar, feminist, and environmental movements, in addition to running for president. All wove political activism into their comedic performances at the risk of alienating their audiences.
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