Did you ever notice just how laughter--the pure, healthy and joyful stuff--seemed to make a villain in the story recoil as if burned? It's not used as often now and it was a generation or so ago, but the presence of a comedic character--in addition to relieving the tension of the audience--often means that mockery is one of the ways that the villain's true nature becomes known to one and all. It's as if laughter itself was poison to the character.
Sure, there's cruelty in comedy--far more than there used to be, making it not funny for a lot of us--but that doesn't make the legacy of the Bard any less a tool against Empire. The way to use comedy to bring down the illusion of importance for a wrong-doer is for the performer to see the wrong-doer as a fool, as but a man and not something more than that, and use his own follies to disenchant the glamor of authority and legitimacy that shrouds such an offender. Once that illusion is shattered, then the fear that often grips the people and prevents them from doing away with the villain fades away; all that's left is to take out Empire's Thrall and the hard step is done. What remains is just a bothersome clean-up job.
As I allude to above, Empire has its fraud of comedy. It promotes cruelty and predation by making the audience see itself as predators, and the objects of those crap comedians' routines--ordinary people much like the audience, doing the same things that the audience does--are the ones viciously mocked as one would see a lion kill a gazelle, in a way that is uncomfortably akin to the psychology of bullying. The lawful comedy targets those whom are claimed to be powerful, elite, superior and then exposed for what they are: just like everyone else, but deluded through malice or incompetence into thinking otherwise. It is, in effect, a check against unwarranted influence; the corruption of this ancient art is a warning sign of Empire's influence waxing in a community or culture.
Because the Bard's art is such a powerful thing, as it uses charisma to sway the opinion of the nation, it is often attacked when it cannot be corrupted and made to serve Empire's interests. Be it in song, in literature, in drama and comedy or any other of the fine arts of the Bard the use of laughter to bring down the screen of awe and render vulnerable Empire and its Thralls cannot be dismissed. (Just look at wartime cartoons from World War II.) Once we see how necessary the arts are, we can see a clear motivation in denying the use of these arts for lawful ends by way of seizing control over passing on this acumen via centralized school and then using the commercial systems to softly sell Empire's knock-off and suppress the real deal. (Notice, for example, how George Carlin and Bill Hicks all but disappeared from the mainstream media world after their deaths? Not accidental, and neither Hicks nor Carlin was by no means lacking in a paying audience, so pure commercial gain is not the deciding factor.) In a world where maintaining passive awareness is vital to maintaining popular relevance--to be "above the fold" in newspaper parlance, or "on the front page" for those used to search results--it is so very easy to bury unwanted elements, and you can't deal with anything of which you are unaware.
So, bring on the bardic revival, and make the people remember who and what they are--as well as who and what the predators are--by making them laugh as the would-be colossi striding forth like beasts out of time, because in a very real sense they are just that (and thus overdue to go extinct). Before the man, make the ego fall.