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Can Comedy Combat Climate Change?

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Bethany Hall
Comedian-in-residence Bethany Hall is one of the competition judges.

The Eco-Comedy Video Competition was created by the American University School of Communication’s (SOC) Center for Environmental Filmmaking (CEF) and The Nature Conservancy on the premise that getting people to laugh can be the first step in getting them to engage on environmental challenges that are often seen as too complex or too pervasive to change.

This year, a new collaborator is bringing its expertise to the table: SOC’s Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI) The content is a natural fit for CMSI. One of its major initiatives, “The Laughter Effect,” investigates how comedy can play a role in social change. As part of the collaboration, CMSI comedian-in-residence Bethany Hall, will serve as a finalist judge in the Eco-Comedy Film Competition, alongside Keith Haskal, a producer for Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. CMSI Executive Director Caty Borum Chattoo, who has won recognition for her research in the area and is co-author of a forthcoming book on the subject, will speak during the reception.

Maggie Burnette Stogner, Executive Director of CEF, says that the Center is “delighted to collaborate with the Center for Media & Social Impact to combine (their) creative and research exploration of humor as a powerful social impact tool.” The winning films will be showcased as part of a program featuring Hall, Haskal, Stogner and Chattoo Tuesday, March 19, at 7 pm. The event is free, but tickets are required. This is the is the sixth year of the competition at SOC, and it is one of several events SOC will be hosting for the 2019 D.C. Environmental Film Festival.

This year’s competition theme is climate change. "Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. It affects everyone, everywhere, and yet it can seem so overwhelming. We are already rolling our eyes when we hear the latest doom-and-gloom report,” says Stogner. “The Eco-Comedy Video Competition challenges filmmakers to use humor to find ways to engage audiences in this serious issue.”