Thursday, May 08, 2014

Hunger and Poverty: It's No Joking Matter (But in this Case, it is!)

To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it! -Charlie Chaplin
How do you convince a world with an increasingly short attention span to stop and notice that global poverty exists? And how do you talk about the poverty-related issues without always framing them in tragedy? "My eyes start to glaze over whenever I see or hear news about the “developing world.” Poverty statistics. Famine. Conflict. Injustice. Rarely is another narrative presented about the issues facing 80% of the world’s population who live on less than $10 per day," said Jennifer Lentfler, senior writer for Oxfam America. "It’s troubling. It’s overwhelming. Even as a seasoned international aid worker, I often don’t know where to start."
The Stand Up Planet team
Life in the Toughest Places on Earth
So if you can't cry, the alternative is to laugh. 

Oxfam America is a partner in  Stand Up Planet,  a documentary TV show, transmedia series and digital campaign, that frames global poverty in a different light: comedy. This new effort showcases life in some of the toughest places on Earth – in parts of India and South Africa – through the lens and experiences of stand-up comics

."So what if everyday people were given a chance to respond constructively to these perplexing global issues, rather than with despair or cynicism?" Lentler wrote in a piece entitled The Joke’s on All of Us: Global Comics on Global Poverty

A central figure in the show is Hasan Minhaj, a Los Angeles-based comic and filmmaker on  a quest to find some of the best humor coming from corners of the developing world. "Starting from his own personal story – India-born kid to Hollywood comic – Hasan embarks on an epic journey of discovery to find some of the funniest stand-up comics in the most unlikely places: the bustling city of Mumbai, India, and the neighborhoods of Johannesburg, South Africa," said the Stand Up Planet Web site.

“To me, this really is the dream project," said executive director Caty Borum Chattoo. "My professional passion is working at the intersection of translating complex social issues into entertaining narratives, connecting with untold stories through documentary production. The world of ‘social impact media storytelling’ is evolving in such exciting ways.”  Read more from Borum Chatoo in Stand Up Planet Leverages Laughs for Change

Stand Up Planet is available on Link TV (DirecTV 375 and DISH Network 9410) and KCET in Southern California

A couple of Tweets from The Onion
While we're no the topic of hunger and poverty, one of the greatest sources of satire is the newspaper The Onion.  As columnist and author, Carl Hiaasen points out, "good satire comes from anger. It comes from a sense of injustice, that there are wrongs in the world that need to be fixed."  Here are a couple of Tweets from The Onion about the issue of hunger in America.

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