It is based on Satyre Plays of Roman playwrights and taken from the word "Satyre" - which are mythical half goat/half man creatures in Greek/Roman culture. These plays were the only venue to openly mock the Emperor because they used mischievious "creatures" of the woods and in mythology of the time were not "to be taken seriously". But, of course with all comedy, it is taken seriously after the fact.
Basically it is exaggerating an authority's position to show the absurdity of it.
A perfect example is the movie Blazing Saddles. In that move the African-American men are highly intelligent and rational, while the White/Caucasian people are ultra-baffoons.
"In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."--Mark Twain
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