I’m sometimes asked about influences, people that have inspired or driven my writing. There are quite a few, I’m sure, but probably two stand out. The first is the American journalist and satirist H.L. Mencken, who was both unabashedly arrogant yet witty and erudite in his polemics on the state of American society.
The second is, funny enough, the H. L. Mencken Research Fellow at the Cato Institute, a well-known think tank in Washington, DC. P.J. O’Rourke has been one of my favorite authors since college. It seems that I’ve read almost every book he wrote, including his most recent Driving Like Crazy, a collection of automotive essays done over the years. A former editor of National Lampoon, former foreign affairs correspondent for Rolling Stone, and contributor to publications as diverse as Car and Driver and the Weekly Standard, O’Rourke espouses a rollicking, seat-in-the-pants conservatism that I have come to identify with.
Nowadays you can often see him as Bill Maher’s conservative punching bag on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. Back in the 1990s, however, he was known in the UK as the face of British Airways. The video here is one of these ads, where O’Rourke picks apart British culture, from the weather to cricket to their prejudicially demure attitude toward sex. It demonstrates (a) how an institution like British Airways can poke fun of itself for the sake of customers, and (b) how good satire actually works.
More video of O’Rourke will probably be coming this summer.