Recently, I had a stab at stand-up!
Below, you’ll find a summary of why I did it and how it went, republished from the ClimateCultures site.
ClimateCultures is a network of over 200 artists, curators and researchers ‘bringing creative responses to our ecological and climate crises’.
With permission from Mark Goldthorpe (aka the human engine of ClimateCultures) I’m sharing that entry here.
Sustainable Stand Up – Tackling Climate Change with Humour
With her improv background and a course from the Sustainable Stand Up initiative, writer and editor Sally Moss created an online comedy routine with insights for how we can communicate climate change with humour and compassion.
“Even something as passive as watching TV can use loads of electricity … When I bought a TV, I made sure I bought the smallest one I could get. I feel really virtuous, but my film nights are screwed. Never mind Jaws, even Titanic needs a bigger boat…”
I love comedy, intentional and otherwise. For those of us with a keen sense of humour, it’s vital we find the fun and trumpet the absurd in life.
This surely applies more than ever right now?
True, current times might best be described as an almighty car crash of converging social and environmental disasters. At times it can feel frivolous, or even treacherous, to keep laughing.
But let’s not let the bastards get us down in the mouth, eh? Humour is forever a massive asset in the quest to maintain sanity and joy, and to speak truth to power.
Humour formed a core strand of the Zero Carbon Improv pilot project I co-delivered in community contexts in Liverpool a few years back. Participants learned to improvise, in pursuit of…
- Acceptance / realism – Accept where we are and work from there. Or rather, here. (‘Yes, and…’)
- Imagination / inventiveness – Find new possibilities, grounded in the new reality. (‘Yes, and…’)
- Present-moment quality of life – As a result, increase spontaneity, reciprocity, reward, fun.
And recently, I decided to go further: to (try to) write stand-up material that examines sustainability without making mass extinction feel like the better option. Or, as Belina Raffy puts it, ‘tackle ideas that matter with humour and compassion’.
Belina is the founder of Sustainable Stand Up, and she led the online course I opted for.
How was it? Great – high standards, but very accessible, and with huge amounts of encouragement. Yes, you could do it too!
The end result for me was just over five minutes of much-redrafted stand-up, delivered online to a supportive audience of course participants’ friends, course alumni and fans.
In brief, here’s what I learned from my first attempt at sustainable stand-up:
- Notice what’s delightful
- Keep it personal
- Don’t waste words
- Don’t skimp on the set-up
- Find what connects us all
These insights transfer well to many other forms of climate communication (and just as often to our personal lives).
I’ll continue to look for ways to fulfil these comedy commandments in my work and play, and to connect with others keen to do the same.
You can watch my set on YouTube.