Published: April 15, 2021

CU Boulder’s Stand Up for Climate Comedy Show will air on Earth Day, April 22

Did you hear the one about the 16 comedians who walked into a Creative Climate Communication course during a global pandemic? 

No joke. This actually happened. (OK, the comedians Zoomed in, but Zooming isn’t as funny as walking). 

Comedy Climate Change

The comics popped in as part of a class project at the University of Colorado Boulder to create climate comedy through a partnership between 45 undergraduate students and 16 professional comedians from across the nation. 

During spring semester 2021—while night clubs across the world remained largely closed to live standup comedy—Max Boykoff and Beth Osnes—co-instructors of the course—concocted a plan. 

“We decided to recruit professional comedians from coast to coast to partner with our students to create climate comedy in an online environment,” said Osnes Through a long-term, climate comedy partnership with New York comedian Chuck Nice, the CU Boulder faculty recruited comedians far and wide. 

The response was overwhelmingly positive, “such that we ended up with 16 comedians instead of our goal, which was 10.” Boykoff and Osnes have since divided the class into groups, each matched with a comedian. 

But climate change isn’t funny, so what’s up with the jokes? Osnes and Boykoff note that the initiative exemplifies what their research on comedy and climate change shows to help people “process negative emotions, feed hope and sustain climate action.” 

Each group in the class chose a specific climate solution from the list generated by Project Drawdown for their assigned comedian to focus on in their comic piece. For each solution, students provided a research summary, links to media stories, and ideas for jokes and comic approaches. 

Each comedian then used this material to create an original comic set. They shared a first draft with their groups online during class on April 1. “Multiple visits to our online class are allowing for a collaborative process including feedback, development, inquiry and productive fun,” said Osnes. 

Finished comic pieces were recorded before a “live” Zoom audience of the class on April 13. Selected pieces will be featured in the annual Inside the Greenhouse Stand Up for Climate Comedy Show that will be launched online on Earth Day, April 22. 

The Stand Up for Climate Comedy Show is presented by Inside the Greenhouse, a CU Boulder project to advance creative climate communication.

For more information, contact Beth Osnes or Max Boykoff.

What: Annual Inside the Greenhouse Stand Up for Climate Comedy production
When: Launches Earth Day April 22 at 10 a.m.
Where: online—check here for link when launched!