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ASMR Live

"It’s important that we remember to laugh, or we will end up crying"

Fleeing reality with a night of comedy may seem like escapism but laughter can help us re-engage with what is important, argues Issy Phillips.

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Show: ASMR Live
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ASMR Live: Triggering hope

Date: 10 May 2019

It feels like now, more than ever, a good belly laugh is in order.

Our planet is getting hotter. The state of our political system seems to be disintegrating. The wealth gap is growing, and it can be difficult to escape the 24-hour media cycle detailing every single thing that’s going wrong.

Fleeing our reality with a night of comedy may seem like a way to escape our issues, but sometimes comedy can be the exact thing we need to re-engage in a way that doesn’t make you feel hopeless.

I know that when I think about climate change I can feel overwhelmed.

At times I feel completely despondent about the fact that we probably won’t meet our Paris Climate Accord commitments and that even though we have all the tools needed to stop the catastrophic impacts of global warming, we’re sitting on our hands doing nothing.

But being able to laugh about these issues and think about them in new ways might just be the ticket we need to jump back on the train to fight for our planet and the issues that truly matter to us.

Comedy as a medium engages audiences in a unique way that hard news stories can’t.

It focuses on the personal and turns something big into a local and connected story. It’s in that connection that you can reach someone, inspire action and hopefully incite change.

I recently did a performance at TedxYouth Sydney and used comedy and ASMR as a tool to talk about some of the impacts that will occur due to climate change.

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and is essentially the nice or pleasant feeling some people experience when hearing certain sounds.

These sounds are known as triggers and can range from the rustling of leaves to the sounds of a gentle whisper into the microphone. There’s a huge online community interested in ASMR and the videos can illicit tingles and even help people with insomnia fall asleep.

In this performance I munch on Weetbix to demonstrate how droughts will affect our farmland and cause once nutrient-rich soil to become dry and crack.

I head-butt an inflatable exercise ball to highlight how serious of a problem large balls of hail will become as a result of flash flooding and storms.

Although this seems an absurd and abstract way to talk about the impacts of climate change it does something important: it makes people laugh about something we feel like we can’t laugh about, something that often makes us hold our breath because grasping the true impact of climate change feels so devastating.

Releasing that tension, even for a moment, gives us the reprieve we need to refocus and begin to listen to the things that risk becoming white noise.

It’s important that we remember to laugh, or we will end up crying.

We can’t allow ourselves to become overcome by sorrow as to mourn the planet we still have a chance to save.

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