Carolyn Forché, someone who has never been accused of being a funny poet, has said “irony, paradox, surrealism . . . might well be both the answer and a restatement of [Theodor] Adorno’s often quoted and difficult contention that to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” But what did the philosopher and critic Adorno mean by this fatuous statement? No poetry? Or just a very, very serious and earnest poetry? Because, let’s face it–earnestness is almost always bad art. Good art makes us think; it has more questions than answers. Often, but not always, satire does this too. But earnestness almost never does this–that’s not its job. Earnestness is comforting. It wants to hug us. And we want to be hugged sometimes. But sometimes we want to laugh while poking holes in self-righteousness and oppression, whether it be literal political oppression or oppression of a quieter sort – cultural and aesthetic oppression. Irony and satire are such a good antidote to oppression because oppression needs to be earnest (or at least look earnest) in order to be feared by those it seeks to cow. Oppression cannot work alongside irony because it believes in its own righteousness and a monolithic concept of truth that must be asserted to the oppressed with a straight face. Irony and satire are the tools by which the oppressed get to make fun of the oppressors without the oppressors getting it.