Julie Webber was a guest on WGLT to discuss her new edited volume The Joke Is On Us.

Professor Julie Webber from the Department of Politics and Government sat down with GLT’s Ryan Denham to reflect on what political comedy can and can not do with regard to political action.

Webber noted that there’s a widespread belief that comedy or “snark” makes citizens less active in politics, turning them away from it in disgust. Indeed there is a long tradition in American political culture of viewing politics as a space of corruption, not worthy of participation.

Reflecting on what effective political comedy looks like, Webber said, “Is it more focused on how people can live their lives in a freer way? Or is it focused on how people can stay within the leash of consumer capitalism? Which I think is what a lot of comedy does. It makes jokes about our consumer habits. In the end it’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s who we are, that’s what we do.’ But I don’t think that’s all we are and what we do. I think we have a much broader range as humans, and that’s not always represented in political comedy.”

Most comedy tends to be focused on the absurdities of consumer culture (while leaving consumerism itself unquestioned) and the double-standards of politicians’ behaviors without questioning how politics can move beyond horse race politics.