OK, now, don’t get upset. The lymphomaniac joke is from a cancer patients’ website and this blog is about the uses of humor in activism. So take a deep breath and unbutton your mind a bit.
You can google “lymphomaniac” and see how widespread, from dance parties to T-shirts, are the uses of humor to take control back from a state of illness. Patients and activists everywhere arm themselves with ridicule and farce, satire and slapstick — humor is a core tactic of activists. You may be outnumbered, outspent, and outlobbied, and have a grim prognosis medically or politically, but you’ll live to fight another day if you’ve got a wicked sense of humor. Think Yes Men, think SNL spoofs, think Colbert. God bless Stephen Colbert.
“Humor as protest works when it’s fueled by truth, anger and wit,” said someone, and the Selling Sickness movement for medical and scientific reform has no shortage of truth, anger and wit in its ranks.
Our Thursday night conference session is a program curator Amber Hui calls “Selling Sickness Popcorn Showcase.” We plan 90 minutes of illumination and entertainment via diverse YouTube animations, excerpts from plays and feature film trailers, spoof drug ads and infomercials, documentaries, and singalongs. Humor builds solidarity as it releases frustration, and walking just up to the line of being offensive is exciting. Let’s celebrate the fact that there is more than one way to skin a cat and that the arts have an important part in our struggle.
Oh, by the way, the Hyatt charges $6 per attendee for the popcorn, and that’s no joke.