What do comedy and activism and social media have in common? More than most of us would think.
Comedians are not always activists. Activists are by no means always comedians. Both, however, have one thing in common: they like to engage people by exposing them to new material and ideally making them think differently. The advent of social media has brought many of us together who would otherwise not know of each others existence. In this case, comedians and activists can interact. But also, both parties can be even more exposed to one another's passion.
Improvisational ("improv") comedy online is an interesting concept that brings comedy even deeper into the social media realm. Most of us consider comedians to be those folks who stand on stage or appear on television standing on a stage and tickling our funny bones. Remember one of the earliest forms of comedy, however, was the comic strip. Comedy in the written word is still alive and well, and comics are a prime example of how comedy can be used to make sociopolitical statements. Enter the comedic interactive discussion. Yet another platform for humor and human issues has graced the stage.
The internet has given us access to an unbelievable amount of information, from the trivial topics to the global news headlines. The online discussion format has enabled people to be exposed to, and voice their opinions about issues that they otherwise may not have been aware of or participated in. Now introducing: Improv comedians changing the world.
Some topics are better received when approached with humor rather than utmost seriousness. This is especially true with the most uncomfortable topics. Comedy is a powerful tool that allows us to relax a little, and perhaps see some issues in a different light. The real-time commentary presented by comics can not only introduce touchy subjects, but also often highlight rather ridiculous statements in the media, giving audiences perspectives that they may not have allowed themselves to even consider before. The same is true for the comics.
Comic Ted Alexandro was admittedly no activist when he started in comedy. He grew up in a family that considered social justice to be important and so, of course it was important to him. It was the "Occupy Wall Street" movement that got him involved. His cause was to help increase pay for NY comics via the NY Comedians Coalition - something that had apparently not been done since the mid 1980's. To promote a cause like this, and other important causes, comics who focus on social commentary have the difficult challenge that they must be not only entertaining, but well-informed.
Now we enjoy the ability of the open forum to give us and our entertainers access to the overwhelming amount of information in our world. Key issues are picked up, mulled over, and joked about. The interactive discussion that follows can change the views of many through humor and ideally help change the world for the better. That's no laughing matter.
Kayla Olsen is a freelance writer drawn to interactive discussions with comedians who make a difference on sites such http://www.tawkers.com