Paul Provenza, the celebrated comic and critic, talks about his book Satiristas, which focuses on rationalist issues through the lens of transgressive and subversive comedy. He explores the social criticism of the biggest names in comedy, and whether their intelligence should instead be focused on public service. He describes why his background in comedy allowed the celebrities featured in his book to be so open and transparent with him. He relates the impact the interviews had on him personally. He talks about the nihilism of some of the leading comedians and satirists in America today, and shares his personal views about the ultimate meaning of life in a godless, naturalistic universe.

He talks about the motivation of leading comedians, and whether or not they intend to impact society with their comedic art. He talks about comedians who preach ideology, and great comedic artists like Tim Minchin who advance a particular point of view in entertaining ways. He argues that the leading comedians in the United States are like the spiritual descendants of the revolutionary Founding Fathers. He talks about Jay Leno and why he avoids controversial social issues in his comedy. He explores how aware the famous social critic comedians interviewed in his book, such as George Carlin and Craig Ferguson, are of their role in society. He explores the impact of Bill Maher, Janeane Garofalo, and Penn Jillette on American public policy. He also explores to what extent being “preachy” harms laughs. And he explains why leading comedians may be different from the common man, and how they embrace their differences, seeing the world in productive and unique ways.

Also, in this week’s Honest Liar commentary, Jamy Ian Swiss is flattered to have received an invitation to be included in a prestigious directory.

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