Fusion Media Group (FMG) today announced a parallel series of programming, Rise Up: Comedy for Change, that will take place during the Fourth Annual 26th Annual Comedy Festival hosted by The Onion, The A.V. Club, and ClickHole.

Rise Up: Comedy for Change will bring together experts, change-makers, creatives, and comedians to explore the role comedy plays in creating social and political change in an increasingly polarized world. The day-and-a-half event on Saturday, June 3 and Sunday, June 4 will take place at Lincoln Hall; details on sessions and panels below.

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The event will also feature Egyptian comedian, writer, and producer Bassem Youseff, as well as other comedians, writers and producers from The Onion, Clickhole, Second City, and The Daily Show.

Caty Borum Chattoo, director of the Center for Media & Social Impact at American University (CMSI), will also facilitate workshops for several satirists and comedians from the US and Latin America to create new comedy projects through media that will be published on a Univision or Fusion Media Group platform later in the year. CMSI’s new project, The Laughter Effect, provides insights about how comedy works to create social change.

Comedy for Change is produced by FMG’s social impact unit, Rise Up, and presented with support from The Open Society Foundations.


SATURDAY, JUNE 3

Rise Up: Comedy for Change Panels

9:20 - 9:45 AM | Why & How Does Comedy Work in Social Justice?
Caty Borum Chattoo, director of the Center for Media & Social Impact and project director for unprecedented examination of comedy and social change, The Laughter Effect, goes deep into how and why comedy appeals are effective in social change, what we know from research and examples across multiple disciplines, and around the world, along with a look at the huge global ecosystem of comedy in place to highlight and bring awareness (and change) to social justice challenges. This includes an introduction to the typology of comedy formats for social change (scripted comedy, satire news, sketch, and stand-up) and what works for each, along with cautionary notes about how to not approach comedy with social change efforts.

  • Presenter: Caty Borum Chattoo, Founder of The Laughter Effect Project and Director of the Center for Media & Social Impact at American University School of Communication

9:45 - 10:45 AM | Comedians and Communities

In this block we will explore the effect comedians play in their communities, with a special focus on the work that has been already been done in Chicago, briefly touching on what makes the comedic landscape in Chicago different than other cities.

  • Performance by: Felonious Munk, Comedian and Social Commentator
  • Panel/Discussion: Anne Libera, Director of Comedy Studies and the Comedy Writing and Performance at Columbia College Chicago / Felonious Munk, Comedian and Social Commentator / Jenny Raymond, Executive Director of the Harnisch Foundation / Rebecca Griffin, Associate Director at California Programs for NARAL Pro-Choice America

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM | Comedy around the World

We will discuss the role comedy places in influencing change in different parts of the world, such as Mexico, Colombia and Israel, and how cultural norms play a role in creating and shaping different comedy formats.

  • Performance by: Las Reinas Chulas, Mexican Cabaret Company
  • Panel/Discussion: Panel/Discussion: Pedro Abramovay, Regional Director for Latin America & the Caribbean, The Open Society Foundations / Las Reinas Chulas, Mexican Cabaret Company / Veronica Ochoa y Felipe Vergara, Creators of Corruptour, Theater group from Colombia / Omri Marcus, VP Content and Editor-in-Chief of premium channels at Ananey Communications

1:00 - 1:45 PM | Q&A with Bassem Youssef, led by Fran Hoepfner

1:45 - 2:45 PM | Comedy’s Amplifying Effect: Comedy & Journalism

Although they share an attention-getting role in the information economy, comedy and journalism, in fact, can work together to amplify awareness about social challenges. Comedy and journalism together is a powerful force, and comedy’s frames of hope and optimism are memorable and empathy-creating, when done right. In this discussion, we learn from both research about how comedy and journalism work together, as well as examples of doing it in practice.

  • Performance by: Jena Friedman, Stand-up comedian, actor, writer and filmmaker
  • Panel/Discussion: Cole Goins, Director of Community Engagement at The Center for Investigative Reporting / Grace Parra, Comedian / Maricela Rodriguez, Senior Communications Program Manager at The California Endowment / Jena Friedman, Stand-up comedian, actor, writer and filmmaker

2:45 - 3:45 PM | Comedy in Entertainment

Popular entertainment comedies can be powerful means for social change. Developing strong storylines, characters and other messaging elements into different forms of entertainment — such as TV sitcoms, movies, theater and staged comedy — can have weigh heavily on audiences to change their attitudes, minds or behaviors on various social issues.

  • Performance by: Martin Morrow, Stand-Up Comic
  • Panel/Discussion: Kristel Muciño, Director of Communications at WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas / Gary “Gaz” and Mark Alazraki, Alazraki Entertainment / Rick Scott, Vice President of Grants and Philanthropy at Comic Relief Inc. / Aimie Billon, Vice President, Entertainment and Creative Community Engagement at Propper Daley

3:45 - 4:45 PM | The Role of Funny Fake News in an Era of Not-Funny Fake News

In many examples, fake news sets a media agenda and becomes an official source of information (examples: Funny or Die and the Affordable Care Act). In this discussion, panelists discuss the role of fake news, how it works, how it might be marshalled purposefully around key social justice issues moving forward.

  • Performance by: James Fisher, Comedian
  • Panel/Discussion: Ben Berkley, Executive Editor at The Onion (Moderator) / Steve Etheridge, Senior Writer at ClickHole / Roberto Kaz, Creator of The Piauí Herald in Brazil / Callie Crossley, Host/Executive Editor of “Under the Radar with Callie Crossley Show”

SUNDAY, JUNE 4

Comedy Collaborators Workshop

Comedy Collaborators is a year-long project between Rise Up, The Open Society Foundations, American University’s Center for Media and Social Impact and The Onion to create a community of comedians, experts, advocates, media-makers and influencers interested in working (and learning) together about how to use comedy for social change.

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The primary vehicle for collaboration is via four comedy projects with individuals in Latin America and the United States designed to have impact on specific social issues. The objectives of the Comedy Collaborators workshop are three-fold: for groups to share different approaches of how to incorporate social issues into their comedy; discuss research about what works, what doesn’t work when trying to move audiences through comedy; and to begin to outline some ideas for the projects.