Goofy humor can convey very serious things (laughtivism)

This one's a doozy, because both Andy and Mike first learned it before the Yes Men existed, and it's informed much of what we've done since. And certainly not only us, of course: it was integral to Otpor's overthrow of Milosevic in 2000, to the Tahrir Square activists' overthrow of Mubarak in 2011, to ACT-UP's campaigns to get funding for AIDS research and treatment, etc. The list could go on forever.

The word "laughtivism" is credited to the Yes Men by Otpor's Srdja Popovic, but who knows where it really came from. Here, anyhow, is an interview with Andy about it.

Some more concrete reasons we believe in the use of humor in activism:

  1. When you laugh, you're off-balance and off-guard, and more susceptible to new information.
  2. People like laughing, and tweeters and journalists therefore tend to spread funny stories.
  3. It's fun.

Making fun of the less-powerful just isn't funny, so good humor is biased towards progressives. 

We'll link this to this "insight" from a few of our projects, maybe the ones that used goofy humor the most effectively (i.e. to spread the word widest), but it's central to almost everything that we've done—or, if not humor per se, trickiness is.

Instances in which we learned this lesson

Back in 2011, a small brainstorm around the NYPD's racial profiling ("Stop and Frisk") led to an idea that everyone laughed and cringed at…
Shortly after helping to (mis)launch Shell's Arctic drill rig, we decided to help Shell with their profoundly misguided "Let's Go" ad campaign—the…
Two hundred apartheid-party zombies descend on the Cape Town City Hall to celebrate their return to power. Whaaaaaa?
Off we went to Salzburg, Austria—to speak as reps of the WTO. What we'd encounter would change our lives forever.