Church of Satan Sigil of Baphomet

Laughing Best—Humorists Take On Satanism

Over the past five decades Satanism as formulated by Anton Szandor LaVey has been filtering into the consciousness of the general populace. When the Church of Satan burst into the global media in 1966, something new had been added to the contemporary zeitgeist—knowledge that there were people who embraced Satan as a positive figure of liberty and individualism in an above-ground organization. Inevitably, having gotten wider notice, those who use humor to comment upon human activities found new fodder in the ideas and aesthetics projected by Dr. LaVey, especially after the documentary Satanis: The Devil’s Mass was released. We Satanists seem to have “arrived,” as mockery of Satanism and Satanists has become part of the landscape of humorists. There are even Satanists who are comedians. Sammy Davis Jr., who was one of our Warlocks for a time, produced a pilot for a TV series called Poor Devil in which he was a mod, bumbling emissary of Lucifer (played by Christopher Lee) tasked with snaring Jack Klugman’s soul. The Church of Satan is even mentioned while Klugman is trying to look it up in a phonebook! Dr. LaVey himself enjoyed this funny portrayal, but Sammy’s best expression of Satanic élan can be found in his song “I’m Not Anyone.” It captures the emotional core of our philosophy.

You might recall Mike Judge who wrote and directed Idiocracy, an incisive and prophetic social critique that is treasured by many Satanists. He recently created a comedy series, Silicon Valley, which mocks those trying to make it in the techno-centric culture of today. One of the lead characters, Gilfoyle, terms himself a “LaVeyan Satanist with theistic tendencies”—something we find silly on its own. He sports tattoos of an inverted cross on one arm and a goat head within a pentagram on the other. In episode 6, he and his curvy girlfriend attend a Satanic baptism during which a red-headed chubby fellow strips down for an enactment which paraphrases from Dr. LaVey’s ritual while the zaftig nude altar gal stands behind him wearing a goat mask. An altered rendition of our Baphomet sigil hangs on the wall along with a poster of the Rider-Waite Devil tarot card. The celebrant wears a chintzy Halloween cape and the participants dine, post baptism, on chicken from a chain known for its Christian owner’s biases but which supposedly serves fine tasting fowl. I must admit that at times here at the central office that we’ve been treated to images from those interested in Satanism which are not far off from the scene depicted. It brought us quite a few chuckles, to be sure.

But this is nothing new as comedians have previously come to Satanism for material. MAD TV had a sketch wherein the mention of Xmas had been banned in an aggressively secular office which included Satanists who were “the computer guys.” The brilliant Kids in the Hall troupe had a recurring skit titled “The Pit of Ultimate Darkness.” In this we enjoyed Sir Simon Milligan, a crappy hypnotist and devotee of the Devil who dresses in a spiffy smoking jacket, black shirt and ascot. He is assisted by his sassy “man servant,” Hecubus, garbed in black tights with dark circles under his eyes and a bowl haircut. During each installment, they vied for the honor of being called “Evil” for rather petty villainies. Satan appeared to approve of the show at the end of one episode and himself played a guitar duel with a young musician in another sketch. That seemed to set the tone for the delightful later Tenacious D film, The Pick of Destiny. The Devil and Satanism were humorously utilized on their TV show as well. On Bob Odenkirk and David Cross’  Mr. Show series, Satanism materialized several times. In one sketch they posited what it might be like if devil worshippers behaved like evangelical Christians, so they performed an episode of the “Hail Satan Network” that is hilarious for us. In another sketch, Odenkirk played Anders Levant, leader of the First Church of Satan, Reformed who has decided to embrace ecumenicism and ally with the Roman Catholic Church so that together they can work to stop people from taking The Devil too lightly. Finally, David Cross—an outspoken atheist—provided narration for a Little Lulu cartoon wherein an angel and devil each appear on her shoulders. The new spoken text quite accurately explains what Satanism is and points out the efforts to censor it as hate mongering. Simply brilliant!

Over the past year, some folks apparently have been pretending to be Satanists so as to get media attention for their rather adolescent “activist” stunts. Satanists see right through this scam as we’ve witnessed some pretty ludicrous shenanigans from those claiming to be Satanists over the years. When a fellow in horns—with an adopted moniker fit for a 1970s hair dresser—tea-bags a tombstone while some “goth” rejects swap spit on the grave, it seems to us to be a parody of Satanism rather than a representation of some actual philosophical or religious organization. Researching the few people behind this, one soon learns that when planning how to market this act they had to decide whether being devil worshippers or atheists might get them more attention. Likely this is sketch comedy as activism. As we-who-do-not-forget-past-orthodoxies know, the media pundits are perpetually gullible and eager to transmit anything that titillates them, so these pranksters receive publicity without being questioned. Currently, all you need is a press release and “journalists” are off and running. But such doings are also not new.

In France during the late 1800s a man writing under the pen name of Léo Taxil decided to mock Freemasonry (which had expelled him) as well as the Roman catholic Church’s opposition to it. He wrote a four volume “study” of Freemasonry which claimed the adoration of Lucifer was part of their beliefs. In a later book, The Devil in the Nineteenth Century, he created a character named Diana Vaughan who had claimed to have recently converted to Catholicism thus being freed to chronicle her former Infernal doings in the Palladian Order—essentially Freemasonry as Luciferianism. His writings sold very well, bringing in much income. The media ate it up and completely believed the wild tales published in these books, which were filled with faked supporting documents. Most Catholic writers used this as evidence to bolster their disdain for Freemasonry since it suited their agenda. Some things never change.

Taxil finally decided it had gone far enough and held a “Meet Diana Vaughan” press conference on April19, 1897 where he admitted it was all a fraud, laughing all the way to the bank. He later opened a restaurant with some of the proceeds which had some Satanically themed decor. It should be noted that at the time there were no organized Satanists to refute such tall tales. A.E. Waite had disputed Taxil’s claims and you’ll find the whole fascinating story covered in his Devil-Worship in France which includes his follow-up, Diana Vaughan and the Question of Modern Palladism. Freemasonry is still smeared with Taxil’s lies as the ignorant continue to buy into this hoary hoax. The lesson here: some pranks continue to fool stupid people over a century after they have been debunked. Remember, there are always a lot of dummies out there. 

As we are in the early years of the 21st century and nearing our fiftieth anniversary, we note that Satanism is once again very much a “hot topic.” Contributing to this is our well known organization that has adherents worldwide and a growing body of literature written by actual Satanists and some conscientious scholars, not just those who want to wag a finger at us. Dr. LaVey mentioned that a sense of humor was essential for every Satanist’s arsenal of abilities to be wielded when dealing with the world around us, so we are not offended by those who make light of us. They bring us laughter when their humor parodies actual aspects of our philosophy and aesthetics. Some of our members are comedians and they too poke fun at “the feared religion" and its adherents. Ultimately, anyone of intelligence can easily access our materials and learn what we do stand for, and some of them might find that they share our valuing of liberty, pride and self-determination. Or they might just listen to our Sammy as he nails it in his inspirational carnal tune. The gullible will not get the jokes—rubes will be rubes—but we’re here in the Church of Satan to let those with smarts and curiosity in on our answer to the human situation, which brings us vital existence, abundant joy, and a hell of a lot of fun!

I encourage you to take the time to follow the links to the sketches in the essay above. They are both funny and ground-breaking regarding Satanism’s position in society.

As Sir Simon Milligan has said, “Embrace the puppies of purgatory!”

—Magus Peter H. Gilmore