Year of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Other Degree Name/Area of Focus
Rhetoric and Public Address
Department or School/College
Department of Communication Studies
Lucian Conway, Steve Schwarze
Burke, George W. Bush, humor, Lil' Bush, rhetoric
University of Montana
In light of former president George W. Bush’s remarkably low approval ratings during the later years of his administration, the Comedy Central program Lil’ Bush seemed to be a satiric outlet for societal angst. A closer examination of the show, however, reveals that its content is funny, but does more to entertain than it does to criticize. Using the dichotomy of Burke’s comedic and humorous frames as a standard for analysis, this thesis probes the program to determine the nature of its humor. Although the show does include some critiques of George W. Bush and the federal executive branch as a whole, it does not do so with enough gusto to catalyze hard-hitting satire. In fact, the show’s efforts are mostly comedic, in Burkean terms, and lend themselves more toward a happy romp than a scathing criticism. Since the show’s target audience is “the irony demo,” a slice of society whose political knowledge is gained from consumption of entertainment than it is from more traditional sources (e.g. the nightly news), its failure to live up to its satiric veneer may have a significant impact on this group’s political engagement.
Sills, Elizabeth Anne, "Assessing the balance: Burkean frames and Lil' Bush" (2011). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 66.
© Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Anne Sills