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What is a Parody?

By J. Beam
Updated May 23, 2024
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A parody imitates a work of art, literature, or music for the purpose of making playful fun or a joke of the original work. It may take an ironic or cynical approach to the work it is imitating or may just be for comedic relief. Most times, a parody involves a serious work that has been changed to make it seem absurd by mocking or pointing out shortcomings in the original work. This imitation is similar to and may also be referred to as burlesque, a lampoon or a spoof.

The word comes from the Greek paroidia, meaning a song sung alongside another. In modern culture, a parody can involve print, audio and visual media. Copyright laws are complicated when dealing with such imitations, and since the original work is copyrighted to the original creator, the legal debate stems from the new work based on the original. In many cases, the creator of a parody must obtain permission from the creator of the work he or she intends to spoof.

Film is a popular industry where a parody may be created. Iconic films that contain a parody of an original work include the Scary Movie series, which are spoofs of many top box office horror films and Spaceballs, which spoofs the George Lucas film Star Wars. Numerous others exist, many of which star infamous Hollywood comedians.

Music is almost as equally popular a venue for humorous imitations. The number one selling artist of parody in modern music is Weird Al Yankovic, who has recorded over a dozen albums containing parodies of popular songs and some original pieces and has had numerous Grammy Award nominations and two wins.

Other forms spoof exist within television, with Saturday Night Live leading production. Other shows have been developed as a parody of reality. Though this type of imitation in print is rarer and lesser known, books, magazine, and newspapers have also contained parodies of original works or situations.

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Discussion Comments

By mutsy — On Feb 15, 2011

Icecream17 - I think that the Obama parodies are funny because the American people are so frustrated with Obama that the parody provides a bit of comic relief to a serious economic situation.

I think that the SNL crew is so talented. I also think that Rush Limbaugh does a brilliant job at demonstrating Obama parodies with some well known songs.

Some of the best were, “Obama Can Man” which was in response to Obama’s attempt to indoctrinate public school children by having them create an essay on how to help him succeed.

Another classic parody was,”Party Like Its 1929” which is a direct response to how the government is recklessly spending our tax dollars.

I also like, “Every Cent You Make I’ll Be Taxing You” in response to the higher taxes that we will all be paying.

Also, in response to the health care bill is, “Grandma Got Run Over by Obama” which involved the realities of the rationing aspect of this socialized health care bill. I love Rush. He has the funniest parody examples.

By icecream17 — On Feb 13, 2011

Bhutan - I love SNL parodies but I do not like to watch parody movies like “Airplane” or “Scary Movie”. I think that parodies are funnier when they deal with political humor because it is something that we can all relate to.

By Bhutan — On Feb 12, 2011

I love parodies because they are really so funny. My favorite SNL parody is the Obama parody involving a visit by the Chinese leader, Hu Jintao.

Although Obama, played by Fred Armisen tried to act hopeful of the future, the Chinese translator would question Obama about the US spending habits and how this was going to affect their ability to get their $800 billion dollars back.

The parody is really funny because it starts out with Obama trying to lecture Hu Jintao on the changes that China needs to make but he forgets to mention that the United States owe China $800 billion dollars.

In the parody the Chinese leader chastises Obama by asking how many jobs he created and Obama responded “None”. Then Obama tries to defend the health care bill as something that would stimulate the economy and Jintao responds by asking how extending coverage to thirty million people is going to stimulate the economy.

Obama then went on to defend the Cash for Clunkers program and the Chinese leader responded that he did not want to be paid back in clunkers.

The funniest line of all was when the actor playing Jintao says, “I liked to be kissed when someone does sex to me” which was a reference to the fact that the Chinese don’t believe they will ever get their money back because Obama keeps spending money.

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