At the latest edition of Revolutionizing Activism: Using Humor When Things Are Dire, Caty Borum Chattoo (Center for Media and Social Impact/ Yes, And… Laughter Lab) kicked off our discussion by underscoring the significance of humor across cultures and histories. Borum Chatoo notes: we find comedy in the most oppressive conditions over and over again, precisely because we need comedy. Alongside Ricardo Del Bufalo and Lola Joksimović, Borum Chatto makes a strong case for how comedy can work as a force for social change, and we’re giving you some quick tips on how to incorporate humor in your own advocacy work.
Why should you incorporate humor into your advocacy?
Well, for advocates, humor has the power to make people optimistic, attract new supporters, and mobilize a base of people who are exhausted by doom and gloom. According to Borum Chattoo, comedy and social change “have a synergistic power because social justice requires that we see a situation through a different lens, which is precisely how you make someone laugh – you have to find something outside the status quo.”
Here are three tips for how you can incorporate humor in your advocacy:
1. Hire A Comedian!
Ricardo Del Bufalo’s advice? “Don’t try to be funny if you’re not! Hire someone who is and partner with comedians.” Del Bufalo also notes, “I think for any human rights organizations or sectors that aren’t taking comedy seriously, we notice that leaders take comedy seriously enough to be afraid of it. We know how potent comedy is when it comes to activating descent and getting people to think in different ways.”
2. Play, Play, Play!
Lola Joksimović offers, “jokes tend to upset those without imagination. Let us actually educate future generations to be able to keep their minds open, curious, and react positively with a great deal of solidarity and love for the world they are living in.” Del Bufalo buttressed this further: “creativity is about playing like we’re kids, even though we can talk about horrible situations, we can use comedy to play with how we feel about the situation.”
3. Lean Into Absurdity!
Borum Chattoo breaks down the science of why we laugh: “we laugh when there’s a joke because of the incongruity. This is why comedy and social justice have such synergistic power –social justice requires that we see a situation through a different lens than we see the status quo. To make someone laugh, you have to find something absurd. The incongruity of the situation is where the actual laugh comes in.”
We hope you check it out, and let us know what you think about the power of humor for advovacy.
For more information about Revolutionizing Activism, click here.