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Random Observations by Pat Ostrye

What Price Satire?

    At a very early age I was overjoyed to discover that satire and sarcasm really are the lowest type of humor.  In my opinion, too many people get hurt when self-appointed "humorists" with a 12-year-old mentality think nothing of unmercilessly ridiculing the helpless, maimed and undereducated, in so-called literary compositions.  (Jon Stewart is an exception, perhaps because he seems to deal only in political satire and has the super- intelligent know-how).

    Before I joined the Navy in 1943, I worked for radio station KYSM in Mankato, Minnesota, after being graduated from Beck School for Radio in Minneapolis, and found myself in the midst of some of the most revolting first-class jerks in the business, who really thought they were funny, poking their sarcasm at everything and everybody. This was my first experience at writing for a living and meant writing mostly commercials and putting together the noon news from the teletype machine. 

    When working for a small radio station, one does everything.  Consequently, I was on the air three times a day and also set up the music programs for the DJs.  Being super-naive just out of radio school, I was subject to every possible bizarre happening those jerks could think up, even while I was on the air.  In fact, after one program, my mother called from Minneapolis to inform me that the mike was still open when I responded to one of those "happenings", bellowing, "Paul, you are so stupid!"  He wasn't there much longer simply because he was so stupid with his persistent off-color, offensive "humor".

    What has me even thinking about those days, is a column in today's L.A. Times by Lawrence Grobel, who, although he has become a successful writer and lecturer at UCLA in spite of it, got his start in the '60s as editor of Satyr, the campus humor magazine at UCLA, which satirized every possible aspect of college life, making fun of courses, teachers, sex, you name it.  He now bemoans the fact that a compilation of three issues of that Satyr in paper-back only brought in $348.20 on, plus, a first edition of his 812-page biography, "The Hustons", only $1. 

     I am still overjoyed that at least some satire doesn't pay off, although I would gladly change places with Mr. Grobel right now!  On the other hand, what if his lectures are on "how to" become a successful satirist?!

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