“Truth is where the funny lies”. On the desire for truth in serious times

Christine Hentschel, Susanne Krasmann


What can contemporary satire tell us about the desire for truth and the political as well as the mechanisms of sense-making in a “post-truth” era? In this introduction to the special issue on the “desire for truth and the political” we sketch a number of features of an emerging and fragile regime of truth. We argue that the crumbling certainty over truth’s role in democratic politics has brought about the rise of a range of agencies, devices, and ethics that aim to restore the power of truth in different ways. While fact checking, moralizing, or calls to reason mark such a desire for truth in standard political communication, we explore political satire as a more vivid approach to the relationship between truth and the political, one that works by mobilizing a range of affective and imaginative registers. Focusing on segments of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah that satirize President Trump, we see the damaged truth-democracy-arrangement unpacked in its funniest, most outrageous, and serious articulation.


DOI: https://doi.org/10.6094/behemoth.2018.11.2.981