Tag Archives: baratunde thurston

Can laughter change the world? (notes from SXSW)

Baratunde Thurston is a very funny black man, and the online editor of the Onion. I point out the colour thing as it’s something that he indulges and has written hilariously about in his new book titled How to be Black (with the subtitle *if you don’t buy this book you’re a racist*)!

Anyway, the most interesting thing about Baratunda isn’t the fact he’s black, or the fact that he’s funny (and a very good speaker), but the fact that he believes comedy, and in particular satire, is a force for good and can help change the world.

In Baratunda’s SXSW keynote speech today in Austin, he interestingly talked through how satire sites (similar to the Onion) around the world have been keeping governments in check with a little wit and cheek. My favourites from his talk included:

The Ministry – from Afghanistan

Billed as the Afghan answer to The Office, The Ministry is a satire on the bribe-ridden and sexist world of Afghan government:

Praazit – Iran

Parazit (translated from Iranian as TV static) satirises the tight state media control in Iran, highlighting in particular the state government’s practice of blocking the TV signal and military crack down on home satellite dishes):

Laughter against the machine – US

Laughter against the machine are a US comedy group who are particularly active in the political satire space doing both stand-up tours and also online videos:

The whole role of satire is something that’s always been very close to us at Delib, as the first thing we (the Delib founders) ever did was run a political satire website called Spinon, during the 2001 General election in the UK. Now, comedy isn’t really part of the Delib mix, however the fundamentals of *trying to engage people as effectively as possible* is, and the rules of comedy can be usefully applied in the citizen engagement space.