EXCLUSIVE: There is a synergy between social change and comedy that just seems to make sense — no matter how absurd the jokes and how serious the issues are. Because of that Comedy Central and Define American are teaming for Yes, And… Laughter Lab and initiative launched by American University’s research center Center for Media and Social Impact (CMSI) and creative agency Moore+Associates.
The initiative (which takes its name from the golden rule of improv comedy) is a convening of funny people and social justice activists intended to spark more collaboration between the two and support the creation of comedy content that helps create important social change.
The partnership will bring in the help of popular figures in the comedy world including Broad City‘s Abbi Jacobson, The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi and Roy Wood Jr., Decoded host and author Franchesca Ramsey and others. They will help combine advocacy and comedy to create content that addresses our most pressing social problems.
Define American will work with Comedy Central and Yes, And… Laughter Lab to select five original, high-quality and purpose-driven comedy projects and give them the opportunity to pitch their idea to a room full of potential allies, partners and funders on June 11 at Caveat in New York City.
“We agree that comedy has and can continue to be a driving force to change the world in positive ways,” said Erika Soto Lamb, Comedy Central’s Vice President of Social Impact Strategy. “And what better way to keep evolving the culture of comedy from commentary and critique to action than throwing a bunch of hilarious people and activists — not mutually exclusive, of course — in a room together? We are proud to support this project and can’t wait to see what comes out of this seminal and meaningful effort to use comedy to create social change.”
Elizabeth Grizzle Voorhees, Define American’s Managing Director of Creative Initiatives adds: “Define American has always believed that comedy plays a vital role in social change and we’ve invested in comedic strategies to that effect. Inducing laughter is a chance to challenge skeptical audiences to think differently about culturally relevant issues and we are thrilled to announce our partners with Yes, And… Laughter Lab to explore this relationship more deeply.”
A non-profit founded by Jose Antonio Vargas, Define American was recently made Fast Company’s list of Most Innovative Companies for its work consulting with creators about how best to depict stories about race, immigration, and citizenship. It’s socially driven partnership with Comedy Central for Yes, And…Laughter Lab seems to be an appropriate fit.