Cartoonists, “Daily Show” Staffers to Share Their Craft in “Laughing at Power” Panel on Satire in Politics

"laughing at power" panel on satire in politicsFor months, American eyes have been focused on the presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain. A week after Election Day, four satirists who poke fun at the candidates, public officials, and society at large will gather to explain their craft and probably crack a joke or two.

“Laughing at Power: Satire in American Politics” will take place Nov. 11 at 5:30 p.m. in Fleishman Commons at Duke University’s Sanford Institute of Public Policy. The panel discussion will feature two off-screen staffers from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”— writer Kevin Bleyer and producer Adam Chodikoff, a 1993 Duke graduate—as well as two political cartoonists, Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher of The Economist magazine and Dwane Powell of the Raleigh News & Observer.

Duke Professor James Hamilton, director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy, will moderate. After presentations, including video clips, the panelists will take questions from the audience.

Bleyer, an Emmy Award-winning writer who also contributes to the Huffington Post and National Public Radio, is responsible for many of the gags Stewart executes on the popular news satire show. Chodikoff, dubbed an “investigative humorist” by The Washington Post, mines archives for video, audio, and text clips that portray politicians in a comical light. Chodikoff told the Post he reads eight newspapers a day in his search for humorous material. “I’m a Nexis grand master,” he says.

Powell began working at the News & Observer in 1975, and has published three collections of his work. He draws several cartoons a week for the paper, and nearly any topic related to politics is fair game for the Raleigh resident. Kallaugher, known by his penname “KAL,” returns to Duke a year after a large retrospective exhibit of his work opened in the Sanford Institute’s Rubenstein Hall.

During the week of Nov. 10-14, KAL also will be an artist in residence at the Sanford Institute. In a public space on the main floor of the Sanford Building, he will fashion a clay sculpture, presumably of the winner of the Nov. 4 presidential election. Kallaugher said he will dedicate himself to completing the sculpture during the five days, although the short time frame poses a real challenge. He also will speak to classes and engage with students.

The “Laughing at Power” panel discussion is free and open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Paid parking is available in the Bryan Center Parking garage or the visitor lot on Science Drive. Due to a Duke men’s basketball game scheduled for 9 p.m. the same evening, carpooling is suggested. For questions, please contact jko@duke.edu or call 613-7394.