Scientists predict global warming could have a devastating impact on the earth and its inhabitants. But a traveling theater troupe has managed to find something funny about climate change. As the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman reports, the group “Human Nature” hopes to spread a message as well:
Scientists predict global warming could have a devastating
impact on the earth and its inhabitants. But a traveling theater
troupe has managed to find something funny about climate
change. As The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chris Lehman
reports, the group “Human Nature” hopes to spread a message as
Joyful Simpson’s middle name is Raven. So perhaps it’s only
fitting that she plays a raven in the play, “What’s Funny About
“I suppose the raven in mythology is known as a trickster or a
shape shifter. So she’s come in human form to both tease and
cajole and plead with the audience for their understanding and
(sound of play: “You came, you actually came! I said that if we made a show about global warming sound like
it actually might be funny, that the humans would come. And
here you are…suckers!!”) (laughs)
“What’s Funny About Climate Change” is a three-person
comedy review. The three members are the Simpson family.
They call their theater group “Human Nature”. Their goal is to
raise awareness about the problems caused by global warming.
Jane Lapiner is Joyful’s mother. She says their group uses
theater as a political tool.
“With comedy and theater in general, people can be more
receptive to important ideas, as opposed to a meeting or a
That’s why the Simpsons founded the Human Nature theater
group more than 20 years ago. Global warming’s not the only
thing they’ve written about. They’ve performed plays about the
timber industry, wolves, and Pacific salmon.
David Simpson writes most of the material. He says he tries to
inform people and make them laugh.
“I have to say this is an intelligent show…It’s a sophisticated
show, the humor is sophisticated. People are going to learn
something about climate change, they’re gonna laugh, and
they’re gonna think.”
(sound of play, actors singing)
Joyful Simpson says she was fairly involved with her parents’
theater group growing up. But when she left for college, she
started to pursue other ways to communicate her concerns about
the environment. Her journey eventually led her back to her
parents’ theater group.
The current tour is the first time she’s worked with her parents in
about seven years. She says her years away from her family
might have prepared her for her role in “What’s Funny About
“I’m not educated about it from a scientific perspective and
actually I think that I embody some of the societal doubt of
whether or not it is a real thing and I’m trying to break out of
that because I think that’s deeply ingrained.”
Joyful is young. She’s in her mid-20’s. And she says it’s crucial
that young people understand environmental issues.
“I have a lot of people in the older generation that I look up to
who are very active in the environmental and the political world
and I see some of that energy in my generation but we are
lacking in that field. And so I’m pushing myself to feel inspired
to take the torch and also trying to push others to understand our
(more sound of play: Joyful Simpson: “Did you actually think
there was something funny about climate change? It’s the
biggest disaster in the history of the entire civilization and it
really is happening…”)
The Simpson family will be performing on college campuses
across the nation this spring.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chris Lehman.