Intersections of Art and Science

Comedians made some hilarious jokes about climate change. Were they right? – the Washington Post

Michelle Wolf, 2016 (by Erin Nekervis CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr).
Michelle Wolf, 2016 (by Erin Nekervis CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr).

Comedy is a lot like dumpster diving. You look at things in a different light than most people.

Stand-up comedians have long cast an amusing lens on our society, crafting observations about everything we might encounter, such as family, divorce, travel, a second divorce, pets and, more recently, climate change.

Comedy may not seem like a good vehicle to showcase grim news of our planet, but just because something is entertaining doesn’t mean it can’t be useful, too. Humor can provide many benefits in tackling serious subjects. Limited research shows that climate change memes can boost a person’s civic engagement. Good-natured comedy can also help process negative emotions about global warming and sustain hope. (A note: When I’m not writing about science, I’m also a stand-up comedian).

But the human-exacerbated deterioration of Earth is not easy to make funny, especially as some climate goals are seemingly impossible now. Additionally, poorly executed climate jokes can dissuade people from engaging in the topic…

Enjoy these punchlines on global temperature increases, personal climate responsibility, overpopulation, and flooding.

Climate change is a real big deal, and everyone says Mother Nature. And I do believe nature is a woman because she’s trying to kill us in the most passive-aggressive way possible. It’s not some sort of immediate fire or flood or cool explosion. She’s just like, ‘What? I raised the temperature a little. Oh, are you uncomfortable? Maybe I wouldn’t have if you’d taken out the recycling like I asked. I’m fine.’— “Michelle Wolf, “Nice Lady” (2017)

“I looked up a list of what you’re supposed to do for global warming as an individual … Just talk to your friends and family about it.’ … Think about how far out it goes … I had a great-aunt and uncle fistfight each other at a wedding. Let me get in the middle of that fight. ‘Any chance this fight is about global warming? Because I would just love to get that conversation rolling.’” — Nate Bargatze, “The Tennessee Kid” (2019)

“I don’t believe that overpopulation is the major issue at play here. I do think if you want to have kids, you should have kids. I do think that if you are having kids, knowing everything we know about the way the world is going, it is sort of like when you’re at a party that you know is dying down. … You get a text from a friend and they’re like, ‘Hey, should I still come to the party?’‘Yeah. Yeah. Jump in that Uber, girl. I’m sure it’ll be fine. I’m sure there will be ice still at the party by the time you get here.’ When what you should be doing is calling them immediately, being like, ‘Don’t come here. Somebody has put on a podcast. Party is over.’” — Joel Kim Booster, “Psychosexual” (2022)

“I’m from Virginia Beach, so if you don’t know, if somebody spits outside, it floods outside to the point that you all live here now, so get to know your neighbors right now. These are now your roommates. Climate change is crazy. … They got me scared about property at this point. I don’t want to pay for flood insurance. I don’t even have car insurance, okay?” — Kristen Sivills, “Ain’t Your Mama’s Heat Wave” (2021)

Kristen Sivills brings up an ever-growing effect of climate change: property loss…

Also of Interest from the Hip Hop Caucus (02-02-2021):
Ain’t Your Mama’s Heat Wave – Official Video

Ain’t Your Mama’s Heat Wave is a stand-up comedy special from the frontlines of the climate crisis. It’s filmed in the St. Paul’s district of Norfolk, VA, a Black public housing community that is being redeveloped because of climate flooding, sea level rise, and a legacy of racist urban policies. The city of Norfolk, which is below sea level and sinking, is grappling with the climate crisis and racial injustice…


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