10 Cases Where Comedy Generated Social Change in 2019

Omri Marcus
6 min readDec 25, 2019


It was George Orwell that once said that every joke is a tiny revolution. Well, in a world run by childish clowns, it is up to comedy to stand up and take up the mantle of the responsible adult. After all, comedy is at its best when it makes people think as much as laugh. If you can make the audience laugh at something, they will take a closer look at it. This is the idea behind The Finger Awards that were awarded earlier this month at the Content London 2019 conference.

The Awards are a first of a kind event honoring comedy projects that generate social change. Over 80 nominees from more than 30 countries were considered. The finalists and winners were was picked by 50 comedy writers and producers from around the world, including The Simpson’s Mike Reiss (USA), Borna Sor (Croatia), Lasse Hallberg (Norway), Bence Trunko (Hungary), Yasir Gaily (Finland), Vipul Shah (India), Narek Margaryan (Armenia), Farai Monro (Zimbabwe), Phil Morrow (Ireland), Patrick Karpiczenko (Switzerland), Brent Schiess (Canada), Haris Dedovic (Bosnia), Adam Bloom (UK), Jacob Shwirtz (USA) and more.

Comedy for Change, the community that established this award celebrating activist comedy, is an international group of comedy writers committed to promoting social change. Among our members are writers of Family Guy, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show, and many more.

The following are the community picks — two winners, eight finalists, and a sensational honorable mention you should check out.

First of all the winners:

1)The Tampon Book (Germany)

The award for most creative use of comedy to drive a message was awarded to this really fun campaign from Germany under the name: The Tampon Book: A Book against Tax Discrimination

The Female Company took a stand against the unfair taxation of female sanitary products by selling tampons hidden in a book. Thus, avoiding the controversial taxation of tampons as “luxury items”. It has a happy end — last month this scandalous tax was lifted.

2)Taboo (Belgium)

The award for comedy that was most effective at conveying a message was given to a Belgium TV show called Taboo (VRT), where every week the host, comedian Philippe Geubels, invites four guests to spend a week with him in his holiday home. Participants come from a range of backgrounds, from those suffering with physical and psychological disabilities to those from the LGBTQ community and of different racial backgrounds. Having spent time getting to know his guests, Geubels hosts a stand-up comedy event in which he pokes fun at the ‘taboos’, all with the support of the participants who take front row seats.

These two excellent projects had some very tough competition. There were so many amazing projects out there, that I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to acknowledge some of our finalists:

3)The Other News (Nigeria)

The Other News is a Nigerian weekly news and political satire TV show. Each show has the anchor, Okey Bakassi, and a team of correspondents, comment on the week’s stories, using actual news footage, recorded remote pieces, and guests in the studio discussing important news happenings with a lighter side to it. Not only has the show delivered impact, but it has broadcast 70 episodes with audiences surpassing 2 million an episode. Watch HERE

4)Emotional Rebuttal against fat-shaming (USA)

James Corden is fighting back against Bill Maher’s pleas for fat-shaming to “make a comeback.” The “Late Late Show” host issued an emotional rebuttal in a segment on his show in which he shared his personal experiences. Corden struck that rare balance between candor and comedy, making us laugh and feel.

5)Muzlamic (UK)

Written and performed by Ali Shahalom and Aatif Nawaz, the show explores life from the perspective of two Muslim comedians, or rather “two comedians who happen to be Muslim.” The duo’s comic creations range from politically-charged commentary to observational sketches, and characters based on their own lives. Muzlamic aims to reflect the diversity of the British-Muslim experience, where being Muslim is sometimes crucial, sometimes incidental.

6)A Campaign Against Alabama’s Abortion Ban (USA)

Reductress is an American feminist satire website that parodies articles found in media targeted towards women, especially women’s magazines. The website created a campaign against Alabama’s Abortion Ban on Twitter that shone a light on the absurdity of this ban. Read about it HERE.

7) 99% Sale (USA)

Cards Against Humanity has a long history of pulling Black Friday stunts. In 2013, it actually raised the price of its game by $5; in 2014, it sold literal bull-shit. In 2016, it raised over $100,000 to dig a hole for as long as consumers would fund the blackhole. “The setup of the joke is for Black Friday, the most commercial and business-y day of the year, we make the worst possible business decision,” said CAH co-creator Max Temkin.

This year, Cards Against Humanity had decided to take its disdain for the capitalistic holiday to an absurd new extreme with a 99 percent off sale on a rotating series of expensive and spectacularly bizarre items. “Holy fuck have we got some deals,” read the official website. “Every ten minutes, a new deal will go live on this page. Don’t be frightened by the deals. Just click and let the savings wash over you.” See it HERE

8)The Gaydr (UK)

It is an initiative aiming to raise awareness and take action on the blood donor restrictions affecting sexually active gay and bisexual men globally. The Peter Tatchell Foundation built a device that uses “homo-erotic tendency technology” to identify sexually active gay and bisexual men, in order to prevent them from giving blood, poking fun at this discriminatory practice.

9)The Blank Edition (Lebanon)

If politicians don’t work why should we? El Nahar newspaper published an empty newspaper protesting politicians’ inability to form a government.

10)Nanette (Australia)

Hannah Gadsby created a groundbreaking poignant standup routine that deconstructs stand up along with social axioms. As a lesbian, Aussie, on the spectrum, sexual assault survivor and other challenging statuses and categories, Gadsby crystallizes observations about being a minority and about dealing with reality in an amazing empowering way. See it HERE.

*)Do They Know it’s Europe (Germany) (honorable mention)

Our honorable mention went this year to comic Jan Böhmermann, host of Germany’s popular show Neo Magazin Royale, for his project Do They Know It’s Europe, where 20 political satirists from 16 European countries came together to create a new European anthem for the 2019 European Parliament election.

Since doing this project, Böhmermann did something even crazier, when his vocal criticism of Austria’s FPÖ party created quite the shit storm in Austria and seemed to very lead to the resignation of the government. Now, that is without a doubt comedy that had some serious impact and generated social change.

Executive Directior: Omri Marcus // Head of Production: Noa Margalit // Head of Creative: Simon Winkler // Website: Romi Brayer // TV Research: Keri Lewis Brown (K-7 Media)// Digital Research: Oded Napchi //Media Strategy: Cheryl Clarke (Mushroom Media) // Advisory Board: Yael Rosen

This event was made possible through the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation’s Grassroots Events program.