For all the tools available to policymakers concerned with understanding how life is going to change in expected and unexpected ways during the next two decades, the one that has yet to be used may be the most poignant and entertaining: comedy.
In particular, satire, from the work of writer Mark Twain to the “newscasts” of Jon Stewart, has a rich history in popping bubbles of expectation and shaping how American society sees itself and some of its most vexing social, political, and economic contradictions. With the social-media amplified voices of today, comedy’s universal appeal can be even more important and engaging to a far wider audience that will only become more connected to one another during the coming decades.
Tying all of these influences together, the benchmark Global Risks 2035 report lays out the trends, technologies, and forces that are starting to reshape the way we learn, do business, fight, love, and invent. Like other Art of the Future project creative challenges, this contest showcased the value of creative thinking about the future, especially technology, conflict, and demography. It brought in new perspectives, which are increasingly valuable for their unexpected insights. The convening of comedians and the policy community for an evening at DC Improv provided an opportunity to develop the kind of insights about the future that only humor can reveal.
The event headliner was Erin Jackson, and Jason Weems hosted. Additionally, seven comics participated in a contest to determine who can make the best jokes about life in 2035. The winner of the contest was Denise Taylor.