UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Is there a funny side to the climate crisis? Communicating climate change through comedy

10 July 2019

Institute for Sustainable Resources researcher Dr Matt Winning has found new ways to communicate the Climate Crisis through comedy. And now he is taking his show on the road to Edinburgh Fringe.

Matt Winning

By day, Dr Matt Winning works as a Research Associate at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, researching the macroeconomic impacts of environmental policies. By night, he is the "attractively impish" (Guardian) comedian who “delivers the funniest lecture you’ll ever receive” and will “make you want to save the planet” (The Sunday Post). 

His brand of climate humour uses storytelling lectures, wisely marked with a distressing content warning, to both engage and entertain audiences with the often depressing facts of climate change. Following the sell-out successes of his solo shows ‘Filibuster’ and ‘Climate Strange’ at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017 and 2018, Matt will be once again combine his academic and comedic ventures performing his new show It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I feel fine (but not all the time)) at The Pleasance throughout August.

You may be wondering “Is there a funny side to the climate crisis?”. Matt answered this question recently for the Guardian:

It’s important that we learn to laugh for two reasons. First, the climate crisis is here to stay, even if we do start to fix it soon. And humour can be a coping mechanism. It can help us deal with a problem that is so overwhelming it makes us feel small, depressed or futile. You have to laugh or you’ll cry, basically. We need to find ways to survive the grief and the loss of so many things we currently take for granted.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, I believe that laughter is an excellent way of reaching wider audiences and engaging people who are less interested in the topic. Comedy makes people more open to new ideas. So humour can also be used to get the message across. Laughter has a strong social function in bonding groups of people together and also helps make the message more relatable.”

Off the stage he has also recently launched a new podcast ‘Operation Earth’. Each week Matt interviews a different special guest about topical climate news stories, walking through their carbon footprint and answering any burning issues. Most people don't talk much about climate change, but this podcast is trying to change that and show how humour can help bring people together.

We’re hoping to book Matt in for a show for UCL's It's All Academic Festival in October but until then he continues to engage with audiences across the United Kingdom with his niche but relatable brand of climate humour. 

Need a dose of humour to help digest the damning evidence of a climate emergency?

Listen to Operation Earth

Operation Earth – Available from your favourite podcast provider

Read recent press

'Are a cow's farts the worst for the planet?' Children's climate questions answered  - The Guardian

'https://www.scotsman.com/arts-and-culture/edinburgh-festivals/how-tackling-climate-change-made-me-feel-like-most-scottish-man-in-world-dr-matt-winning-1414097’  - The Scotsman