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How Comedy Drives Change: Lessons from the masters of comedy.

“When someone makes you laugh there is connection, you can’t deny it.” – Lizz Winstead, co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show. frank 2014

Today we are all in mourning as our favorite satirist, Jon Stewart, steps down from his 16-year run at The Daily Show. Many of us spent the last decade or so laughing and cheering when he perfectly articulated all the emotions we were feeling.

Stewart will go down in history as one of the most influential television personalities for many reasons, including for how he used comedy to inspire a new generation of people to engage in politics and ask critical questions.

For those of us who work in public interest communications, Stewart leaves behind lots of lessons.  Namely, Stewart showed us that engaging storytelling is an effective way to reach your audience. Stewart was the master of storytelling, using narrative to speak to our heart, data to speak to our head, and humor to speak to our gut.

As a goodbye tribute, we looked into the frank archives to see what other people have to say about how hitting the funny bone of your audience can be useful for creating social change.

 

From frank Clips

Sophia McClennen

In her frank 2015 talk, Sophia McClennen, PhD, talks about the role that satire has played in changing politics. Satire and politics have always gone hand in hand, but today, satire is becoming a primary source of news and information about political issues–particularly for Millennials.

 

Jenny Lawson

In her frank 2015 talk, author Jenny Lawson, a.k.a The Bloggess, reminds us how important community is to those who struggle with mental health. In her work, Lawson uses comedy to talk about mental illness in a new way and connect a community.

 

Lizz Winstead 

In her 2014 talk, frank M.C. Lizz Winstead shares the importance of using storytelling and comedy to spread ideas. As co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show and Air America Radio co-founder, Lizz Winstead has helped changed the very landscape of how people get their news.

 

From frankology

These Findings About Health Communications Are Nuts
Researchers find that campaigns that use humor to encourage young men to check themselves regularly for testicular cancer can be effective. One campaign, Check Yo Nutz, used a number of mediums for sharing their message about self-checking for testicular cancer, increasing young men’s knowledge of testicular cancer and how to perform self-exams above pre-campaign levels.

 

From frank Finds

Californians Are Coping With Water Shortages in Some Wacky and Smart (and Desperate) Ways

These Empowering (and some funny) Ads Were Named the Best of #Femvertising 

Comedian Steve Carell Joins the Campaign to Conserve L.A.’s Water In New “Save the Drop” Spots

Ad agency, Campbell Ewald Wants To End #DroughtShamingrelies by using humor and advocacy to teach residents about responsible water usage

 

Posted on August 6, 2015

Annie Neimand
Annie Neimand is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology, Criminology & Law at the University of Florida, and Research Director and Executive Editor for frank.