Laughing at Climate Change
L.A. correspondent Carrie Seim attends the word premier of Sizzle — a global warming comedy
Should global warming give you the giggles? That’s the thesis of Sizzle, a new docu-dramedy about climate change. Meant to poke fun at the dullness of “sciencey” documentaries and green guru Al Gore, the movie claims to be the first ever global warming comedy.
I attended Sizzle’s world premiere at the Los Angeles Outfest film festival this weekend. Half the fun was admiring the audience – a crew of L.A. comedy regulars, a rainbow of LGBT film buffs, a sprinkling of the world’s top climate scientists and a petroleum engineer sporting dictator-esque facial hair and war medals.
(Dr. George Chillingarian is a global warming naysayer from the University of Southern California who’s interviewed in the film. He bolted midway through the screening when he realized the audience was laughing at his preposterous moustache and even more preposterous claims that climate change has nothing to do with humans. Kind of awkward when he bailed, but “Dr. Chill” is unintentional comedy gold!)
Mixing humor and climate change is risky business. The film’s genre-splicing and pointed mocking of Gore’s Power Point slides have already enraged some eco-enthusiasts.
I asked the film’s director and former marine biologist, Dr. Randy Olson, how he reacts to criticism for making a funny film about such a serious issue.
“I say, ‘How dare you make such a boring movie about such a serious issue?'”
“When you tell a story, there are two ways to go wrong. First, you can make errors of fact – the scientists put all their emphasis on that…The second is to make errors of boredom,” Olson continued. “We really wanted to make something that would entertain, amuse and keep people’s attention.”
To be fair – the film also has offers some seriously powerful scenes from post-Katrina New Orleans. These moments put a heartbreaking face on our nation’s complete inability to deal with the tragic effects of global warming.
You have admit, Olsen has guts. His previous film, Flock of Dodos, dealt with the debate between evolution and intelligent design, and was a hit on Showtime. This time around he and his hilarious cast (comedians Brian Clark, Ifeanyi Njoku, Mitch Silpa and Alex Thomas) have chosen some unconventional weapons in their fight against climate change.
I say, fight on, funny folks!
(2nd photo: Carrie with Brian Clark — one of the stars of Sizzle and also one of her comedy pals from Groundlings)