Ep. 8. Climate Change Comedy with Dhaya Lakshminarayan

Mill Valley Public Library interviews comedian Dhaya Lakshminarayan.

Climate Change is affecting the health of millions of people on the planet and it’s going to get a lot worse before it, and if it, gets better. The planet itself is sick. The atmosphere is full of toxic emissions, the warming and acidifying ocean water is full of plastic and the land has been slashed and burned. I’d prefer to continue on about nuclear waste, landfill, the hole in the ozone layer (it’s still there!) and so many other depressing but true details but I need to move along to get to some funny business. If Earth is sick, shouldn’t we seek a cure? I’ve heard that laughter is the best medicine. I would much prefer a radical reduction of carbon emissions & a world where redwoods aren’t cut down but I’ll take what I can get. For now. 

Last summer three academics at the University of Colorado published a report titled Good-natured Comedy to Enrich Climate Communication, which as the name implies, advocates for using humor to discuss climate change. Not only does humor help humans emotionally cope with all the darkness but it also functions for educational purposes and fosters hope – at least according to some smartypants in Colorado. 

I was happy to stumble onto the report because as our Library made plans to organize a year-long series of events addressing climate change, some of my coworkers questioned how accessible the series would be if everything is doom & gloom. As it turns out, the response from the community so far is ready for doom and gloom! Or in their words, they want to talk about the issues honestly and realistically with the urgency that it demands. But we also started a merit badge incentive to encourage participation in a fun and accessible way and through that process, I started making jokes about climate change for my own amusement. I shared them with my coworkers who almost universally told me they were bad but sent me mixed signals by also laughing at them and asking for more.* 

I’m no comedian but thankfully I am friends with a few. Dhaya Lakshminarayan, who is an internationally recognized comedian and was the Grand Prize Winner of The Ultimate Comedy Challenge filmed in Singapore – among other accolades such as recipient of the 2016 Liz Carpenter Political Humor Award (previously awarded to Samantha Bee and Wanda Sykes) agreed to help workshop my material. Dhaya helped improve every single one of my jokes, which were probably just as bad as my coworkers implied. Hopefully the jokes now have potential to cure our sickness with laughter. The previous statement, unfortunately, is as logical as some of my jokes. But if the podcast episode can support the report from Colorado and help anyone cope with our collective sorrow or feel inspired to talk about the issues honestly, then I guess these jokes are worth sharing. 

* The only coworker that claimed to find the jokes funny is one that I supervise so I have doubts about his sincerity and believe he might be trying to humor me.