Satire in modern media is already a source of information and trusted perspectives for a sizable percentage of the American population. It can be developed further to influence existing audiences to take political action.
In order to explore my interest in the intersection of comedy, social justice, and digital media, I propose a two-pronged project consisting of:
1) An Uncomfortable Issue Show - a multimedia, interactive sketch comedy show to be performed live in a theatrical venue. The show, written by a team of writers assembled from my previous sketch comedy team, will explore a social issue in-depth and from a variety of angles. It will incorporate various degrees of interaction and ways to take political action.
The taboo nature of the issue (still to be determined) will lend a certain assumed sense of discomfort, thus the name "An Uncomfortable Issue Show." Tackling an issue that is rarely openly discussed, however, will not only help to start a dialogue about it but will expose audiences to related resources and possible actions they may not have previously known about.
2) An online web app - the website will be a portal where people who have seen the show (or any interested party - seeing the show is not mandatory) can engage with various campaigns related to the show's issue and other ways to take action. It may include links to contacting Congressional representatives or where one can send material donations.
We live in a time now where millennials are informed about the issues of the day and turn to satirical news shows, such as The Daily Show and, until recently, The Colbert Report. With an increasing number of young people additionally engaging in participatory politics (defined by Cathy Cohen and Joseph Kahne of the MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics as "...interactive, peer-based acts through which individuals and groups seek to exert both voice and influence on issues of public concern."), it is interesting to see how satire is shaping, or at least contributing to, modern activism.
Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the departure of both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert from their respective shows, however, we see the burgeoning transition to a very different form of calling out power abusers. Daily Show alum John Oliver, on his HBO show Last Week Tonight, is extending Stewart's approach to topical satire through in-depth journalistic inquiries and specific calls to action. These attempts at engaging the audience have been so successful as forms of action that they have translated to "The John Oliver Effect" (read this Time article for more info on that).
Drawing inspiration from the aforementioned comedians and the general desire to increase engagement in social justice, I hope that my project will serve as an intelligent undertaking for audiences. The end goal will be to spur action and achieve tangible results through an original theatrical production.