Humour is one of the healthiest ways to process the collective tragedy of the pollution of our planet, says comedian Esteban Gast.

Transcript: Climate Quickie: Can climate change be funny?

TEDxLondon Climate Curious

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Humour is one of the healthiest ways to process the collective tragedy of the pollution of our planet, says the comedian-in-residence at Generation180 and co-creator of the Climate Comedy Cohort, Esteban Gast, on Climate Curious. In conversation with Ben Hurst and Maryam Pasha, Esteban shares how he’s building a climate comedy movement to get more humour into climate storytelling through the form of mentions, moments and premises.

Learn more about the Climate Comedy Cohort
Check out Esteban’s Instagram
Visit Esteban’s site

Listen now: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS | Android


Maryam Pasha 0:01
welcome to clever cookies bite sized nuggets a planet goodness from our tenants London experts in under five minutes.

Ben Hurst 0:08
So we’re joined today by Esteban gassed. He’s a Colombian American comedian and writer. He is a comedian in residence. Did you even know that was a thing? No. But now I want to be one comedian. Right? This is this is our goal for the next year to become comedians in residence, but Esteban is a comedian in residence at generation 180, where he helped create the climate comedy cohort. Listen, he’s gonna tell us more about it.

Esteban Gast 0:34
Number one, is comedy has always taken on really big issues, right? If you look at like the best standups of all times, like they’re tackling racism, and like sexism, and like all the isms and they’re talking about the standard specials that came out this year talking about, you know, it’s like, I love Nathaniel from jarred Carmichael, he comes out as gay, Marc Maron talks about the death of his longtime partner, like the sudden death, and it’s brilliant and funny and sad. So So for, sometimes we will go, how can you do make humour out of this? And then I’m, like, look at any step ups, but you know, like, yeah, that’s what we’ll do. That’s, that’s the thing we’re doing. And actually, humour is the maybe one of the most healthy ways to process the writer, or, to me, it’s like, not only how do we make humour, it’s like, it is essential to make humour. That’s how we process learning like time and comedy is tragedy plus time. Like, it’s like we’re experiencing this sort of collective tragedy that the earth is shifting in these ways. And like, we need people to help us process that. So I think that’s one like big picture. But but more specifics, which I think sometimes I answer that, and people are I think about them. Yeah. And they’re like, Wait, what is that? They’re like nodding along and be like, huh, and then I ended they’re like, Okay, so you literally you just have like a beautiful answer. You’re like, comedy is poetry and science is prose. But you know, and you’re like, Okay, that sounds good. And yeah, so here’s the specifics. And actually, this question is a perfect question. Incredible question. Because two years ago, with the folks that generation one ad, there’s this national nonprofit, they like it, they’re doing really interesting stuff in climate communications and flipping the script and like mobilising, and building communities around things like electrification and building schools on solar’s so with them in the folks at American University’s Centre for media and social impact. So this amazing centre that like studies, how entertainment and media can make a difference. So with both of them, we co created, okay, this thing called the climate comedy cohort, so the climate comedy cohort works with comedians and we connect them to climate experts. It’s like climate education. And then we are in writers rooms, writing jokes, and creating jokes and content and videos from that. So we actually build and we were like learning these best practices and we work with folks like in behavioural science we worked through and it’s at a high level but last year we worked with Comedy Central like a national network here this year we’re working with yellow dot that’s Adam McKay. He did don’t look up and yeah, you guys know, you like climate. SNL. Yeah, but importantly, and this is a big thing that we’ve learned is we it’s we empower the comedians in their own way to their own audiences, organically, authentically, often not saying this is a climate joke. Just saying this is a joke, right? So we’re thoughtful in those ways, right? Because I mean, first off I love I love the pitch climate SNL. But if you had climate so no, no one who wouldn’t be in it would watch Yeah, yeah. So you have to wait. Yeah, not to shut down. I know. It was a fun riff, but I can’t tell you how wrong you are.

Ben Hurst 3:47
Okay, we’re gonna wrap up Yeah.

Esteban Gast 3:50
Is there an apology? You can? No, it’s I love it. And that would be Yeah, write a dream in but I think what we’ve the research has shown climate doesn’t need to be the the principal conflict, right? It can be the context that we’re in and people are doing that in storytelling, right? There’s climate mentions climate moments, climate premises. And I think that also comes up in comedy. So it’s like if I’m telling a joke, someone could just be doing something that like normalises the climate behaviour and great, I could tell a joke, or there could be a whole premise around it right and premises that we know are really helpful and what genuine ad and the work that centre for median social impact, like Dr. Katie BoRam, who leaves that literally studies, comedy and social impact. So she wrote a book called The revolution will be hilarious. Studying all these things, right? So we know that that like doom and gloom doesn’t help. We know that shaming people doesn’t help we know that humanising it. So I’ve got jokes where I go, Oh, my gosh, I feel like this hypocrite, you know, I want to do something but it’s tough to and you know, and I arrived to these places, organically, I invite people in right so I’m not talking down to them. So I think there’s some of those things. Some of those tips that help along with the theory along with the structure and community that we’ve built I think we need to allow creatives the grace to like be authentic in themselves. And trust that the climate mentions the climate moments are actually shifting culture. And we don’t have to be my philosophy change and in perhaps the climate comedy COVID philosophy, a change is like, we don’t have to be in your face. But we’re like this bridge, being like, hey, you know, you’re invited and like, come find more resources. Yeah, it I think we’re trying to crack what that looks like, and it’s a really fun place to be.

Ben Hurst 5:38
Thanks for listening to this quickie.

Maryam Pasha 5:41
This episode was created by our superstar podcast team at TEDx London. Until next time,

Ben Hurst 5:46
stay curious.



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