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Laugh until you cry

Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010

 Dan Dion's new book, "¡Satiristas!"

One of our recent faves on the Santa Clara Mag bookshelf is a double-exclamation-pointed loveletter to comedy, featuring pics by photog Dan Dion ’92. As our man Danwas coming of age, stand-up comedy was his punk rock: eye-opening, soul-stirring, rule-breaking, you-can’t-do-that (but you just did) exuberance.

So it’s no surprise that he turned his talents as a photographer upon comics and, along the way, earned international respect for his portraits of the comically disrespectful.

(Check out the SCM archives for a profile of Dion)

¡Satiristas! (HarperCollins, 2010) pairs Dion’s talent behind the lens with spot-on interviews by Paul Provenza with “comedians, contrarians, raconteurs & vulgarians.” To narrow the field—and to capture the tenor of our times—the women and men who populate these pages are on the front ranks of satire, exploring the relationship between humor and society, analyzing politics, the media, and “institutionalized ignorance.”

Behold Stephen Colbert and Sarah Silverman, Dave Chappelle and Margaret Cho, Amy Sedaris and Bill Maher.

Generations of comics roam these pages: Steve Martin and the Smothers Brothers, Lily Tomlin and Chris Rock, Tom Lehrer and Cheech & Chong, Jello Biafra and Fred Willard (with a rubber duckie).

Some of the gang mug for the camera, but not most; they lounge, they let down their guard, and they give the camera a straight-on look that says, This is who I am. After all, as satirists, they’re offering social commentary, not pure slapstick.

In Dion’s introduction, he shares a bittersweet moment: George Carlin told him his photograph (Carlin perched on an upright piano) was the one he wanted to be remembered by—three weeks before dying. Dion also reveals, “The key to the guarded door of celebrity photography is trust. Without it, you don’t get in. Betray it, and the drawbridge is raised and you are thrown to the alligators.”

Steven Boyd Saum, Editor, and Elizabeth Carney '11, editorial intern Santa Clara Magazine

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Tags: comedians, comedy, Dan Dion, Paul Provenza, photography, Satiristas