There is a widespread notion which claims that art can inspire and/or trigger change. Under this perspective, a satire, for example, can be corrosive enough to expose a certain injustice or even a systemic unfairness, as an act of denunciation. I may have believed in that in the past, but that’s not the case anymore. Yet, engaged comedy is not only politically necessary, but mandatory. What is the political point of socially engaged comedy, then? Why not just make a comedy that doesn’t bother the powerful, that is palatable for both the oppressed and the oppressor in the shared dynamics of their domestic lives, for example, since comedy can’t change a thing?
The main reason to not do that is because this type of comedy is not funny (hence, not comedy), even though there is a type of person that will always consume that kind of “comedy”. Not only that, but they will be particularly noisy about how this non-comedy is the right type of comedy. Such assertions always convey a certain relief, akin to the one spawning by the commenters of Babyl*n Bee on twitter (that punches down and kisses asses that area above them). If you want to venture in that dark area of twitter, you’ll notice that the comments session have a deluge of “This is good” (or similar laconic praise), which implies that quality means not challenging what they believe. One of the greatest enthusiasts of Babyl*n Bee’s type of humor is Elon Musk, who often urges his millions of surprisingly unpaid cheerleaders to ditch the reputable The Onion and switch to its Bizarro-dimension, right-wing emulator every time he is targeted by The Onion.
And that takes us to the initial subject: the importance of comedy (the real one, not the meta-one by Babyl*n Bee): it can’t really harm Elon Musk’s current power stance, but a comedy that mocks him and any other person in his station (i.e., a plutocrat in an age where the top crust of plutocrats never so much power as they do now) is a statement, through its existence, that their power has limits and could end, even if the circumstances for such termination of power are remote and the tools to do so almost, but not entirely yet, unaccessible. The fact that Musk wants to silence The Onion means that he is either headed to or wants to reach a stance where satire ridiculing him wouldn’t be allowed to exist: actual censorship.
Hence, the importance of politically engaged art – not only comedy -, doesn’t rely in its utilitarian capacity to enable change. Art doesn’t have this power but, through its existence, shows that change is possible, that the reality art scrutinizes or the socially parasitic person it mocks can fall and be held accountable. However, art, per se, won’t change shit. It never did, it never will, the same way a thermometer can’t cure a fever.