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The fine art of poking fun

Frederic Pages Sarnath Banerjee

What happens when you put together a satirist, a humorist and a graphic novelist? You are bound to get a laugh, if not a minute, at least a couple of minutes.

The third session on Day 1 of KLM 2014, You’ve Got To Be Joking, saw Frederic Pages, a journalist with a French satirical paper, Shovon Chowdhury, an amateur humorist and blogger, and Sarnath Banerjee, a graphic novelist, in conversation with Samantak Das, a professor of Jadavpur University, about “the fine art of poking fun with satire”.

History seemed to be a fine starting point for satire and humour, whether for Pages who has written books of spoof philosophy as Jean-Baptiste Botul like The Sex Life of Immanuel Kant and Nietzsche, or The Midday Demon, or Chowdhury who discovered the joys of history when he learnt that Lord Mountbatten sank every ship he served on or that he suggested icebergs be towed from the Arctic to be used as landing pads for planes, or Banerjee whose The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers, based on Hutam Pyanchar Noksha is a satire on British and Indian gentry. “As it says in my book, it is inspired by history not limited by it,” said Banerjee.

French president Francois Hollande, of course, starred as a rich source for humour. “He makes a show by himself. As a satirical paper we are very lucky to have Hollande as President,” said Pages.

Ethics in satire came up with Banerjee of the opinion that humour should not be used against people or communities or classes that one does not have an understanding of “It is a weapon that should be used against those who have weapons that they can use against you,” said Chowdhury, who is rooting for Arvind Kejriwal and AAP because they are a promising source of humour in the long run.

Shovon Chowdhury Samantak Das