Dig Deeper - The Art of Parody

The Merriam-Webster’s definition of “parody” (also known sometimes as a send-up, a spoof or a lampoon) is “a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule.”  It comes from the Greek word “parōidía” which means “a song sung along side another.”  Examples of parody exist in literature, art, and music from all over the world and throughout human history. Sometimes the reputation of a parody outlasts the reputation of what is being parodied.  Don Quixote is much more well-known than the traditional knight-errant tales it mocks and Lewis Carroll’s parodies of Victorian verse are more famous than the original poems.  Mel Brooks, considered by many as a master of the genre, produced films parodying several different styles including Blazing Saddles (the Western), Spaceballs (science fiction adventure),  and High Anxiety (Hitchcock suspense).

   The Concise Encyclopedia describes how parody differs from other comedic styles such “travesty”, which, for example, specifically treats dignified subjects in a trivial manner in order to achieve a comic effect.  “Parody mercilessly exposes tricks of manner of its victim and therefore cannot be written without a thorough appreciation of the work it ridicules.”  In other words, the best kind of parodies come from a place of love.

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