Wit Attitude
Bill Maher and the Perils of the Commentator-Comedian

To offend is inevitable for the socio-political commentator-comedian, and to suffer the slings and arrows of backlash should be equally expected.

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George Carlin: Philosopher, Poet, Preacher

Few comedians have aimed for the mind over the funny bone (while still reaching both) quite like George Carlin has.

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Before Charlie Hebdo: The Cartoon Wars

Why is it that cartoons, more than any other expressive form, have incited the wrath of religious backlash?

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Diss-Illusioned! Magic and the Supernatural

A new breed of magicians are self-consciously aware that their toolbox of trickery enables them to wield the potential power to affect beliefs—and thus behavior.

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Weapons Drawn! Perspectives on Charlie Hebdo

Questioning cartoons, satire, and the role of the media after the Charlie Hebdo assassinations.

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Antitheism and the Art of the “Hitch Slap”

Before Bill Maher became the demon-du-jour for his satirical scorn of religion, Christopher Hitchens led the charge of rhetorical antitheism.

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24 Oct 2014 // 1:30 AM

The Commandments of Lenny Bruce

Lenny Bruce made the stage his pulpit, the audience his parishioners, and stand-up the sermons for his alternative secular faith.

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Mr. Mencken Went to Dayton and the Culture Wars Began

Long before Christopher Hitchens and Bill Maher, H.L. Mencken was America's most notorious satirist of religion. And thus began the battle for the soul of America.

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The Fascination with Fundamentalism in Hardcore Punk

Some bands echoed the Dead Kennedys' anti-Moral Majority messages; others embodied right-wing religion.

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A User’s Guide to Parody Religions: Churches of the SubGenius & the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Our prophet explains that we may know what gravity is, but we don't know the cause of it, thus, “What if it is He, pushing us down with His Noodly Appendages, that causes this force?”

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A User’s Guide to Parody Religions: Dudeism, Invisible Pink Unicorns, and Americhrist Ltd.

Plotting exposure, parody seeks to unveil rather than to mask, to offer truths where it finds lies, deceit, or hypocrisy. So why has religion proven particularly prone to this means of comedic put-down?

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Monty Python vs. the Religious Right

The life of Life of Brian tells us much about a period when disparate cultural values were battled over in a dramatic tug-of-war on the frontlines of society -- and for Monty Python, the threat of prison loomed.

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Pussy Riot and the Art of Political Pranks

Why has the West taken such interest in Pussy Riot? Would our reactions be so different if a similar incident occurred in one of our major cathedrals, synagogues, or mosques?

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6 Sep 2013 // 2:15 AM

Family Guy’s Sunday Services

Whereas The Simpsons makes an effort to balance its religious satire with pro-spiritual representations, Family Guy largely regards organized faith as wholly corrupt and its believers as dupes and dopes.

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Is ‘The Simpsons’ TV’s Most Sacred Show?

The Simpsons has always taken topical roads less traveled and nowhere is this more apparent than in its regular engagement of personal, institutional, and social issues surrounding religion.

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Comics-in-Chief: Laughing With (and At) the Presidents—The Scathing Slice of the Satirical Edge

When America chose Nixon over Paulsen at the polls, it ushered in a president that many consider one of the most humor-challenged in modern history.

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Comics-in-Chief: Laughing With (and At) the Presidents - The Watershed Moment of Political Humor

Never before JFK had a president employed humor so concertedly, nor had it used against him so openly.

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Comics-in-Chief: Laughing With (and At) the Presidents - The Growth of Democracy & the Flow of Humor

“Greatest” and “worst” president surveys continue to reveal what is surely not just a coincidence: we have always and still continue to revere our wits in the White House.

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Political Humor and Its Diss Contents

Political humor brings a lot of joy and laughter into our often humdrum lives, but is our national laugh fest a good thing for the nation at large?

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Stand-Up! America’s Dissenting Tradition Part 3: The Bills of Rights, Hicks & Maher

Two sides of the same coin, Bill Hicks and Bill Maher are comedic patriots; leave (their country) they will not, nor will they leave it alone, for they persist at picking at their nation’s open sores of injustice, hypocrisy, and superficiality.

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Stand-Up! America’s Dissenting Tradition Part 2: Transformers George Carlin & Richard Pryor

Whereas Richard Pryor used autobiography for his comedy of social dissent, George Carlin aimed his critical lens outwards, to reflect upon a world of greed and self-delusion.

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Stand-Up! America’s Dissenting Tradition Part 1: Trailblazers Mort Sahl & Lenny Bruce

Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce were more than just maverick dissenters; they were the founding fathers of what would later coalesce under the umbrella of the “counter-culture”.

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Humor vs. Religion: An Unholy War. Part Two: Dispatches From the Front Lines

For comedians like Ricky Gervais, Bill Maher and others, the non-rational beliefs and behaviors that religion fosters are, from a “material” perspective, manna from heaven.

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Humor vs. Religion: An Unholy War, Part One

Even within the US, where democracy and political openness have fostered a rich tradition of rebellious humor, stains still linger from those periods when “God-is-on-our-side” attitudes swept the nation into a mass hysteria of obedience and fear.

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Football Humor, Like the Game Itself, Is about Attack, Defense, and then Counter-Attack

No city in England “enjoys” such an entrenched, venomous, and savage sports rivalry as Manchester does with City and United. It's no wonder that a recent survey found Manchester to be the “rudest city in the world”.

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20 Mar 2011 // 9:00 PM

Banksy’s Bare Wit-ness

Like Aristophanes in Ancient Greece, Mark Twain in 19th century America, or Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes, Banksy’s visual humor chastises power in its multiple manifestations by hauling it before the court of public opinion for a well-deserved flogging.

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//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

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