Satirists would probably prefer that you understand more than you laugh. But laughing is what happens first. Given time, the understanding might come. Just not in time to suit the satirist. The satires of Juvenal, a Latin writer from roughly 120 years into the common era, have a lot in common with some of the more political and angry stand-up comics of today. Lewis Black comes to mind. He and Juvenal share a deep frustration and disgust for the behavior of the rich and powerful and the parasites that feed off their “event-glamor”. They despise stupidity and have little tolerance for foolishness. Unfortunately for them, (fortunately for their genre) it abounds.
Juvenal has the vision of an artist, able to see the components of things as well as the whole. Satire 1 is a criticism of poetry. Poetry, he complains, is too namby-pamby because the society that creates it and provides an audience for it is namby-pamby. Hello! Such an argument could be used down through history, specifically for academic art. The Pre-Raphaelites may have made use of this vein of thought. When society sucks, their art will suck. If the Academy members are jaded and old-fashioned, guess which type of art will be celebrated.
Juvenal is cutting in his expressiveness. He could have been a writer for BLACKADDER! His sarcasm and disdain are so thick, you could cut them with a …a … disdain-cutting device.