Hi there – had a good laugh today?
If you’re reading this just after checking the news, laughing might be hard to imagine. But humor can be critical, especially when times are dire.
Here’s a joke from our resident 10 year old, Sam:
A guy walks into a bar.
There’s a long line for punch.
That’s the punch line.
At the Center for Artistic Activism, it’s no secret how much we appreciate a
good joke. But you know – any joke will do. Through Unstoppable Voters, we continue to support projects that use joy, creativity, and humor to protect the right to vote. From witty singing lessons for senators to dancing mailboxes, these projects showcase that humor can make civic engagement fun for voters.
And when things are particularly unfunny, repressive, and dire, we think we need good humor – the kind of humor that creates connections – even more.
Join us on March 31st at 12 pm (EST) for this month’s Revolutionizing Activism – we’re digging into humor, activism, and creativity with an incredible line-up. If you’re curious about the potential of humor for creative campaigns and want to hear from comedians and artists that are dynamically using humor to change the conversation in their communities, then this conversation is just for you. Moderated by Caty Borum Chattoo (Center for Media and Social Impact/ Yes, And… Laughter Lab) and featuring comedian Ricardo Del Bufalo and Lola Joksimović (Borderline Offensive/ Center for Cultural Decontamination)– let’s talk about how to use humor to broach difficult subjects and broaden the reach of your advocacy.
Here’s More About Our Panelists…
What Is The Yes, And…Laughter Lab?
“How do comedy and activism come together?” This was a central question for Caty Borum Chattoo and Mic Moore when they founded The Yes, And…Laughter Lab, an incubator for marginalized comedians. Borum Chattoo and Moore were particularly interested in creating a model that could support and elevate comedians who wanted to use their performances to talk about the inequality and injustice they were experiencing in their lives. Yes, And…Laughter Lab also wanted to connect those comedians to social justice organizations. Here’s a video of their first convening in 2019:
I Didn’t Say That, I Said That I Couldn’t Say That
Ricardo Del Bufalo has been performing standup comedy in Venezuela – where most television and radio are state-operated and authorities continue to ban and censor independent media –since he was 19 years old. Comedy is Del Bufalo’s passion and he takes the risk of talking about critical social issues in his country because he can’t imagine otherwise. We had a chat with him about his work and wordplay: “Humor is a way to express what cannot ordinarily be said – it can be used as a way around censorship. Through humor, I can say what I’m not supposed to say, but saying that I’m not supposed to say something.”
Borderline Offensive: Laughing in the Face of Fear
The dominant conversation about migration in Europe is often one focused on turmoil and crisis. Borderline Offensive, a transnational platform exploring how art & humor contribute to intercultural dialogue, saw things differently. To “rethink the way Europe sees itself…and challenge taboos and mutual stereotypes” that arise when different communities interact with one another, they saw one possible way to change the conversation – invoking humor. Here’s their manifesto:
When we look at what’s happening around us in the world today, not much is particularly funny. And this is exactly why we need humor – it has the power to disarm and surprise. It can get people laughing and thinking, and it can transform that into action.
When humor is done well, it is a powerful political weapon.— Steve Duncombe and Steve Lambert
The Art of Activism
A Comedian and An Activist Walk Into a Bar
What about the potential of humor in the digital age? Caty Borum Chattoo and Lauren Feldman’s recent book considers comedy as a cultural strategy. Here’s an excerpt we think is particularly useful for practitioners:
Mediated comedy in the digital era is shared virally, a public engagement mechanism and practice also central to contemporary networked social justice efforts. Within the context of a technologically-engaged digital society, contemporary comedy’s availability online is situated for the kind of peer sharing that also is a requirement for public engagement in social justice topics.”— Caty Borum Chattoo and Lauren Feldman
The Role of Comedy in Social Justice
We know that there are many different kinds of laughter. So how do we get people to a good laugh – a laugh that can lead them to act?
We’re excited to explore all of this and more at Revolutionizing Activism. Have any questions you’d like to ask during the live event? Reply back to this e-mail or let us know via Twitter!