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:
- When you laugh, you're off-balance and off-guard, and more susceptible to new information.
- People like laughing, and tweeters and journalists therefore tend to spread funny stories.
- It's fun.
Making fun of the less-powerful just isn't funny, so good humor is biased towards progressives.
We've linked to this lesson from a few of our projects, below, but it's central to almost everything that we've done—or, if not humor per se, at least trickiness.
Also make sure to check out a very different lesson we've also learned (and forgotten) a good many times: that satire and humor have their limits.