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The Funniest Pages

International Perspectives on Humor in Journalism


David Swick and Richard Lance Keeble

Charles Dickens, celebrated novelist and journalist, believed that his greatest ability as a writer was to make people laugh. Yet, to date, humor has been strangely marginalized in journalism, communication and media studies.
This innovative book draws together the work of seventeen writers to show that, starting in the 1640s during the English Civil War, and continuing through to the present time, humor has indeed been an important ingredient of journalism. Countries studied include Australia, Britain, Canada, Chile and the United States. The Funniest Pages is divided into four sections: «Seriously Funny, From Past to Present,» «Unsolemn Columnists,» «This Sporting Life» and a final section, «Have Mouse, Will Laugh,» which looks at humor in online journalism. Chapters examine Joseph Addison, Richard Steele and the birth of social and political satire; Allen Ginsberg, Mad magazine, and the culture wars of the 1950s; John Clarke and the power of satire in journalism, and more.
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Chapter Eight: The Clinic: Satirizing and Interrogating Power in post-Pinochet Chile


← 108 | 109 →CHAPTER EIGHT

Satirizing and Interrogating Power in post-Pinochet Chile


The Chilean satirical weekly newspaper, The Clinic, has come a long way since it started as a thin, fortnightly newspaper in 1998—a decade after a plebiscite put an end to the 17-year military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Now a weekly publication, it has become—as the Peruvian scholar and journalist Paúl Alonso pointed out—‘a hilarious therapy that began healing by demystifying all the symbols of the dictatorship’ (2007).

Chile is—as described by Kristin Sorensen—a ‘post-repressive nation’ (Sorensen 2011: 400) and The Clinic’s satire has singlehandedly interrogated, analyzed and exposed the many absurdities and contradictions of the country’s post-Pinochet era. Patricio Fernández, one of the founders, said it was born as a ‘scream’ (interview, 2015). Fernández—who holds a PhD in art history—said that the scream soon became a loud and hearty laugh. Post-Pinochet Chile’s transition to ‘democracy’ was supposedly based on a negotiated deal sealed between a group of Chilean politicians—democratic center-left leaders—and Pinochet. The deal established a system that has added a number of new euphemistic labels to the theory of political transition: ‘democracy of agreements’, ‘democracy of consensus’ and—perhaps a more suitable term in the Chilean case—a democracy en la medida de lo possible (a democracy ‘as much as is possible’).

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