Empowering Media That Matters

TheLaughter Effect

Comedy is a powerful contemporary source of influence and information. And yet, despite its vast cultural imprint, comedy is a little-understood vehicle for serious public engagement in urgent social issues.

The Laughter Effect is a series of investigations that spotlights how and why comedy can play a role in social change. Reports and studies from this project offer strategic recommendations about leveraging comedy for social justice – for change-makers, professional storytellers, and researchers.

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How & Why Can Comedy Work for Social Change?

Comedy opens doors to complex issues, persuades us emotionally, encourages us to share, and breaks down social barriers. Learn more about how to leverage comedy for social justice – including strategic recommendations and cautionary notes.

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The Laughter Effect


Comedy attracts attention, but how do we make sense of it when it comes to serious social issues? What’s the current landscape of comedy and social change in the U.S. and around the world? This report pulls together research across disciplines and a decade of research to ask and answer: How and why can comedy be leveraged for social change? Where is it already happening?

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Laughing Matters: Samantha Bee, Comedy & the Refugee Crisis

In an increasingly polarized information climate, journalism isn't enough to engage the public around serious social issues. Entertainment and comedy is vital. This study compares audience responses – before, after, and weeks later – to two videos about the Syrian refugee scenario: Comedy (Full Frontal with Samantha Bee), and news (CNN News).

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