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Is there a word which can substitute for the phrase 'make fun of', but is at the same time less intense than the word 'ridicule'?

For instance:

The author satirizes American capitalism and superior complexity and he ________ British puritanism and traditionalism.

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  • mock is very close to make fun of. It can be mild or not so mild. – Drew Jan 19 '16 at 0:15
  • "British puritanism?" :-) – Mark Hubbard Jan 19 '16 at 0:16
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    "Rib" is an informal term indicating playful mockery. – Hot Licks Jan 19 '16 at 2:42
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Some options :

1) he lampoons British puritanism and traditionalism.

lampoon - publicly criticize (someone or something) by using ridicule, irony, or sarcasm.

See http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O999-lampoon.html

2) he sends-up British puritanism and traditionalism.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/send--up

to expose the flaws or foibles of through parody, burlesque, caricature, lampoon, or other forms of satire: The new movie sends up merchants who commercialize Christmas.

3) he pokes fun at British puritanism and traditionalism. From https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/poke_fun

To subject (someone) to laughter or ridicule.

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In the given context I would use 'mocks'.

The author satirizes American capitalism and superior complexity and he mocks British puritanism and traditionalism.

Although I think it could also use some punctuation and a clarification of what "superior complexity" means (or perhaps it should be "superiority complex"?).

Alternatives could be 'scorns', 'pokes fun at', 'scoffs at', and 'derides'. Less formally you could also use 'ribs', or 'riffs off'.

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... and chaffs proponents of British puritanism and traditionalism.

chaff:

to mock, tease, or jest in a good-natured way; banter

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/chaff?s=t

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I'll suggest 'joshes about', because that means

To make ... good-humored jokes....

[josh. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved January 18 2016 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/josh .]

Of other options, only 'ribs' and 'chaffs' suit your desire for a term "less intense than 'ridicule'". Of those two options, 'ribs' is the better one, because 'chaffs' is both colloquial and nuanced as described in the OED Online:

a. trans. To banter, rail at, or rally, in a light and non-serious manner, or without anger, but so as to try the good nature or temper of the person ‘chaffed’.

(A word or sense which probably arose as cadgers' slang, and is still considered slangy, and usually apologized for by inverted commas.)

["chaff, v.2". OED Online. December 2015. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/30164?rskey=OwtKJW&result=4&isAdvanced=false (accessed January 18, 2016). Emphasis mine.]

Other options such as 'mocks', 'lampoons', 'sends up', 'pokes fun at', 'scorns' and 'derides' would all need to be qualified with, for example, 'light-heartedly' or 'good-humoredly', in order to be sure that they were understood to be "less intense than 'ridicule'".

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