Dr. Beth Savage will present “The Sincerest Form: Imitation and Condemnation in Satire” as part of the Westover Honors Program 30th Anniversary Lecture Series.
Eighteenth-century actor and mimic Samuel Foote earned the nickname “the English Aristophanes” for his biting satire, which tested the bounds of what was appropriate on the stage and infuriated the most powerful members of his society. His imitations of well-known citizens, as well as of other actors, were beloved by audiences and feared by the objects of his mockery.
This talk will discuss the power of satire and, specifically, comic imitation, to change public perceptions of the satiric object. Living in a political age when Sean Spicer can be described as “going full Melissa McCarthy” in a press conference, and when a Dominican newspaper can accidentally publish a picture of comedian Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump, we are in a unique position to understand the role of the mimic in intimidating and redefining those in power.