How many comedians does it take to make climate change funny? OK, yes, that’s a trick question — climate change is basically the opposite of funny. But like divorce, war, and other not-funny things, there are actually lots of ways to joke about it. And that could be a very good thing.
Comedy has a long history of helping people cope with hard things. As George Washington said, “It is assuredly better to go laughing than crying thro’ the rough journey of life.”
Psychology backs up his opinion. Humor can relieve stress, spark courage, help you cope with fear, medical problems, and even build resilience through crisis. It can help build connection with others, whether you’re in a live audience sharing cathartic belly laughs together, or retelling a good joke to a friend.
It can also help bring more attention to an issue like climate change — and in turn, the solutions.
“Comedy’s brilliant superpower is being able to talk about really difficult things like climate change,” says Esteban Gast, Generation180’s Comedian-in-Residence.
He co-leads the Climate Comedy Cohort, a collaboration between climate experts and comedians teaming up to create comedy informed by the latest climate science.
Now in its second year, the six-month fellowship program kicked off in April with a gathering in Washington, D.C., that featured guest experts from climate-focused organizations like the Center for Behavior and Climate and NRDC. Throughout the fellowship, participating comedians learn about climate change and ways to combat it, with the goal of creating empowering, educational comedy.
The nine comedians in the current cohort are joining the ranks of a growing number of comedians who are actively working climate change into their sets.
“Some people say climate comedy is ‘irreverent, it’s like joking about death and divorce,” Gast says. “But I think comedy is reaching different people and can be a gateway for them to reach climate science. So there’s a push and pull of trying to be ridiculous, but also honoring the weight of seriousness.”
And with that said, we’ll pass the mic to the comedians themselves. The following is a curated mix of favorite climate comedy bits, from newbies to comedy celebs alike, for you to lol over.
Ready, set, laugh: 18 climate comedy bits
1. SNL starAidy Bryant as Mother Earth talks about how she lets humans get away with all kinds of weird stuff — but the climate crisis is a different story.
2. Comedian Kiri Pritchard-McLean puts the climate warnings of Professor Bill McGuire into “more direct and emotional language.”
3. As part of his “Climate Town” series, Rollie Williams’ sarcastic alter egos argue with each other about whether the new climate bill is good or bad.
4. Tom Gleeson vents about the ridiculousness of having solar panels yet still having to pay the energy company for “mass-produced bullshit.”
5. Joel Kim Booster explains how having kids now is like inviting friends to a party that’s so over the few remaining guests are listening to a podcast.
6. Kristen Sivills, as part of “Ain’t Your Mama’s Heat Wave” (2021) – on how bringing kids into this world is scary … so she’s thinking about buying her boys a kayak.
7. Tommy Lee in his bit “My Electric Car Personality” for Sustainable Standup night at CU Boulder says EVs need to make noise to attract “car guys.”
8. Jimmy Kimmel warns that climate change could disrupt the world’s supply of beer.
9. Stephen Colbert eviscerates the concept of “carbon footprints”:
10. Reem Edan, a Climate Comedy Cohort member, recently performed at “lol climate change: a show” in LA, quipping that she’s so passionate about climate change … she wrote these jokes today, before moving on to vent about mansplaining about recycling.
11. Julie Nolke reveals how one small building company is fighting climate change, investing tens of tens of dollars in the effort in this mockumentary-style commercial:
12. Eric J. Freedman ponders whether his thoughts and prayers are helping with climate change. (Spoiler alert: he doubts it.)
13. Simon Brodkin learns from his future self why being cryogenically frozen is a bad idea (hint: think climate impacts), and his future self has a few pointed questions for him in return.
14. Science Moms like this one are REALLY excited about heat pumps:
15. Ralph Barbosa compares the earth amid human-caused climate change to an old beater car.
16. Foil, Arms & Hog, an Irish sketch group, discover what happens when fossil fuels and green energy throw a party.
17. The folks at Funny or Die created a PSA all about climate change denial disorder.
18. Marc Maron in his standup show “End Times Fun” explains why he’s not upset about the world ending in environmental catastrophe.