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Satire is a form of humor, often found in literature, but also in the graphic and performing arts, in which individuals, notions, and behaviors are held up for ridicule. The object of satire is often to shame people, corporations, governments, and even society into improving. Irony, sarcasm, parody, and exaggeration are all employed in satire.


In literature, satire is classified as Horatian, Juvenalian, or Menippean. Horatian satire, named for the Roman satirist Horace, criticizes a social vice through light-hearted humor. The Simpsons can be classified as Horatian satire. Juvenalian satire, named after the Roman satirist Juvenal, employs scorn, outrage, and ridicule. Swift’s A Modest Proposal, Orwell’s 1984, and A Clockwork Orange are examples of this type. Menippean satire, named after the Greek writer Menippus, is often found in novels that attack mental attitudes. Gulliver’s Travels and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are considered to be Menippean satires.

Satire is frequently employed in modern television. South Park and The Colbert Report, both on Comedy Central, both employ heavy uses of satire in order to both skewer celebrities as well as narrow-mindedness. Fake News, such as Colbert’s show or The Onion is a particularly popular form of satire. However, many often fail to see satire in a performance, such as with Stephen Colbert, confusing the individual with his satiric performance.

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