ABOUT THE COLLABORATION: AIN’T YOUR MAMA’S HEAT WAVE
As a combined team of engaged researchers, comedians, activists, organizers, music producers and filmmakers, Hip Hop Caucus and the Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI) began working together in the summer of 2019 to co-create a climate justice entertainment project that centers comedians of color. The ultimate goal was to bring to life a portrait of Norfolk, Virginia, which resembles New Orleans, the site of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, in its below-sea-level location and urban landscape. Our organizations met through the Climate Story Lab hosted by Doc Society and Exposure Labs, an initiative designed to spark collaboration and inspiration to creatively engage communities in the climate crisis.1 The effort is grounded in Hip Hop Caucus’s organizing and empowerment work with the Norfolk and expanded Hampton Roads communities for more than a decade, beginning in 2008.
In August 2019, we launched our collaboration with a Comedy ThinkTanks workshop, CMSI’s week-long intensive, immersive process that brings comedians, activists, and subject-matter experts together to ideate and co-create new comedy, facilitated by comedian Bethany Hall, CMSI Creative Director of Comedy Initiatives. In November 2019, incubated from the CMSI Comedy ThinkTanks ideation sessions, Hip Hop Caucus produced Ain’t Your Mama’s Heat Wave, a live and filmed stand-up comedy show hosted in Norfolk’s historic Attucks Theater, and the centerpiece of a comedic documentary film and short-form video content series, starring comedians Kristen Sivills, Aminah Imani, Clark Jones, and live show host Mamoudou N’Diaye. A network of community leaders and grassroots organizers in Norfolk helped shape the film in a production process that centered local voices as guides and on-screen subjects.
Molded through this co-creation model, Ain’t Your Mama’s Heat Wave, a docu-comedy, is described by Hip Hop Caucus as “the first feature length production from Hip Hop Caucus’ Think 100% FILMS. It is a gripping story of communities in the city of Norfolk and the seven cities of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia that are grappling with the climate crisis and the present day consequences of historic injustices and inequality. It’s centered on four stand-up comedians, hailing from Virginia Beach, Atlanta, Chicago, and Ohio, and tells the story of their journey to Hampton Roads to ‘make the climate crisis funny.’”2
Ain’t Your Mama’s Heat Wave was developed and produced as a cultural tool to center young people and communities of color in the climate movement – and encourage them to vote.