Have you ever laughed at a moment when you shouldn’t be laughing — seeing someone trip, a work presentation, or Zoom meeting?
Laughing at a problem can help make a problem seem less intimidating, and even more approachable. Getting people to hear and talk and think more about climate is one of the necessary steps to making lifestyle and systemic changes possible; humor is a perfect way to initiate the climate conversation.
So, when we invite comedians to help us look at the climate crisis using humor, what’s possible? Together with our partners at American University’s Center for Media and Social Impact, we developed the Climate Comedy Cohort to find out.
Enter: The Climate Comedy Cohort
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The Cohort is an unprecedented network of comedians who are coming together to learn, create new comedy informed by the hottest climate science, and take their work on the road in a series of live shows and short-form video content. All of this is designed to inspire daily, meaningful choices each one of us can make to support the planet.
Co-created and directed by Generation180 and the Center for Media & Social Impact’s GoodLaugh initiative, the Climate Comedy Cohort brings together comedians from around the country to flip the script on the way we think about climate change. The ultimate aim: to leverage humor as a strategy to change the climate narrative from doom and gloom to “we’ve got this!”—and shift how people see their role in clean energy.
The diverse group of CCC fellows—selected from a pool of 118 applicants from 10 states and three countries—all seek to amplify climate change solutions or refocus on environmental issues in their creative work. From the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, BET, and Comedy Central, to YouTube and TikTok, these comedians are some of the best. To learn more about each of the fellows, visit the cohort website.
The Climate Comedy Cohort is creatively led by a group of comedy writers, performers, and producers who have been all over television, popular podcasts, comedy clubs and festivals, and more. The comedy team has been in places like The Tonight Show, TruTv, VICELAND, Comedy Central, Spotify Original Podcast, Bonnaroo.
Earlier this summer, our nine comedian fellows learned from climate and clean energy experts, from Niklas Hagelberg from the United Nations, clean energy journalist David Roberts, activist Layel Camargo, and more) to help inform new, funny content and shift the climate conversation to make science more accessible.
The cohort during our Think Tank session with cultural strategist, artist, and founder of Shelterwood Collective, Layel Camargo.
The cohort concludes with a live comedy show tour (with a celebrity headliner) in Los Angeles, Mason City, IL, and Atlanta, October 2022. (Psst—near any of these cities? Sign up here for updates on when tickets go live!)
The cohort also involved a pitch competition. After much deliberation, we are thrilled to be awarding the Tree Huggers $20,000 towards making their idea, a comedy tour powered by electric vehicles, a reality.
So, why comedy?
With a daily bombardment of doomsday headlines, it can be easy to feel stuck about the climate crisis. In fact, this type of global catastrophe narrative is counterproductive—it can actually feel paralyzing, resulting in no action taken at all.
70% percent of U.S. adults want to take action on climate change, but don’t know where to start. Studies show that narratives that rely heavily on scientific language and facts have failed to engage large audiences, and that gloomy interpretations actually prevent action. As more communities across the U.S. experience first-hand the extreme effects of the climate crisis, we need creative approaches to empower everyone to feel that their personal action makes an impact. Bringing humor into the conversation is exactly what we need right now to help shift hearts and minds. Comedy has a unique opportunity to play a role it has not yet played in the climate crisis: for hope and optimism and positive engagement, not scary messages.
Humor isn’t simply a way to temporarily distract us from reality. It has the power to effectively connect people, information, ideas, and new ways of thinking/acting—that’s why we stepped in.
And you can, too.
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