Yezbick Analyzes American Political Humor

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

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Dan YezbickPolitical humor has had a long and storied history.

Before “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” American attitudes about presidents, parties and issues were influenced by other leading outlets that commented on the issues of the day. 

Daniel F. Yezbick, Ph.D., professor of English at
St. Louis Community College-Wildwood, understands this reality well. An expert in cartoons and media studies, Yezbick recently collaborated on Jody C. Baumgartner’s two-volume set, “American Political Humor: Masters of Satire and Their Impact on U.S. Policy and Culture.” 

Yezbick has four entries in the collection, which tracks the evolution of humor through American history, from the colonial era to present. Two of his entries focus on popular magazines from the past – Judge and Life. The other two are profile pieces on influential individuals in American political humor – Al Capp, a cartoonist and humorist best known for the satirical comic strip “Li'l Abner,” and Russell Wayne Baker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist and humorist. 

Yezbick said he chose to contribute to this body of work because he enjoys analyzing the impact cartoons and personalities have on public opinion and elections. 

American Political Humor book“While political humor has changed over time, it remains one of the most important forms of expression,” he said. “By studying the politics, cartoons and satire of the past, we gain a deeper understanding of the truths and conflicts.” 

Although Yezbick enjoyed working on all four entries, his favorite piece was the one he wrote on Baker. 

“It was a real treat to analyze Baker’s work. During his career, he skewered politicians, pundits and celebrated personalities as well as fads, trends, panics and popular delusions of all sorts,” Yezbick said.

“My commentary in this collection, as well as the others, demonstrates the continuous need in our democracy for writers, artists and personalities to challenge people’s thinking and point out uncomfortable truths.” 

Yezbick has served on the STLCC faculty for 13 years. Outside of the classroom, he has lectured and published widely on diverse topics, including radio, cinema, comics, literature and art. 

His work on cartoon satire has appeared in the Eisner-nominated “Comics through Time” encyclopedia and the 2018 Bloomsbury anthology, “Animal Comics: Multispecies Storyworlds in Graphic Narratives.” He is the author of “Perfect Nonsense: The Chaotic Comics and Goofy Games of George Carlson” from Fantagraphics and contributes to their ongoing archival series, “The Carl Barks Library.”

 

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