Beat Bureaucracy

Humour and satire about bureaucracy

YouTube video: United Breaks Guitars 

United Airlines baggage handlers mangled a musician's $2,000 guitar. He spent a year seeking in vain for compensation. Then he made a video about the incident that went viral. Compensation followed soon thereafter.


Researchers issue warning: how the world will end

Don’t worry about fire, ice, asteroids, global warming or nuclear winter. At a top-secret lab in an unknown location, scientists have discovered a substance that could destroy all life on Earth, the heaviest element known to man, Administratium. Be very afraid.


New Yorker cartoons

Cartoon collection: Enter "bureaucracy" as the keyword at

Business or Citizen Sisyphus: 



Yes Minister (1980-84) and Yes Prime Minister (1986-88). Comedy television series by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, BBC. A senior bureaucrat and an ambitious politician jockey for position while the needs of society are thoroughly forgotten. Most amusing.

Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, depicted woebegone bureaucrats in a number of productions, including Clive, a singing civil servant who put to music the Municipal Vermin Abatement Code which he sang twice because he had to do everything in duplicate.



Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. A scary/funny send-up of the US military during World War II

The Complete Yes Minister and The Complete Yes Prime Minister  See Television above.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Brutal mockery of English court officials presented as a fantastic voyage

Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (Chapter 10, “The Circumlocution Department”). Seeking to help someone who is in debtors’ prison, a man encounters a bureaucracy that specializes in doing absolutely nothing regardless of the human cost.

Have Your Way With Bureaucrats and Fuzzify by James Boren. Amusing romps through the “dynamic inaction” and “bafflegab” of government departments.


Science fiction

Analog Magazine  Kelvin Throop, a fictional character in a series of stories by R.A.J. Philips, finds himself within a large bureaucracy which, with his acid-penned memos, he causes to self-destruct, whereupon he disappears until the next story. (Source--Wikipedia)


Complaint letters

Brain-dead technicians, a maddening on-hold system featuring The Scottish Robot Woman: this Brit gives his telecommunications company a royal blast...Read

Kvetch-22: A brave Jack, multiple beanstalks and infuriating telecommunications giants...Read


Hitchhiker’s Guide to Bureaucracy: the video game

Once upon a time, a man moved from one apartment in London to another. He dutifully notified everyone of his new address, including his bank; he went to the bank and filled out a change of address form himself. The man was very happy in his new apartment.

Then, one day, the man tried to use his credit card but couldn't. He discovered that his bank had invalidated his credit card. Apparently, the bank had sent a new card to his old address.

For weeks, this man tried to get the bank to acknowledge his change of address form. He talked to many b(l)ank officials, and filled out new forms, and tried to get a new credit card issued, but nothing worked. The man had no credit, and the bank behaved like, well, a bank.

This game is called Bureaucracy. Written in 1987 by Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it's based on a real episode involving Adams and his bank. No longer commercially available. Used copies of this game can be purchased on 

or downloaded from