Cartoonathons: stimulating dialogue

Humour keeps us honest. It strips away illusions that support the status quo. It helps bridge the gap between what is and what could be.

The argument is simple: by overlooking reality, people and organizations often fail to anticipate and address risks, and humour helps to dissolve denial.

Through a shared experience of humour, cartoons invite us to recognize aspects of reality as ridiculous, inexcusable, in need of change. Once armed with such awareness, it’s easier to reflect and discuss candidly what’s really going on, and what to do about it.

Humour, like disaster risk management, is about the clash between “what is” and “what could be”. When something is unacceptable yet accepted, humourists find rich opportunities to shed light on the contradictions, incongruities, tensions, and general absurdity of our choices…and the bad outcomes that may emerge.

Humour enables tough conversations about what can go wrong and what to do about it. A good cartoon first makes you feel confused (Huh?), then makes you smile or laugh (HaHa), then makes you think (A-ha!), connecting your experiences and emotions to what is laughably wrong in our world.

Cartoonathons: stimulating dialogue

Cartoonathons: stimulating dialogue

Cartoonathons are creative spaces of focused dialogue that allow stakeholders to have critical, revealing conversations. Participants share the challenges or complexities they are facing, while the cartoon artists listen carefully for hidden nuances and emerging tensions to create draft cartoons.

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From failure of the imagination to humour-infused flow

Humour isn’t merely entertainment; at its best it is smart, strategic communication. And frankly, we need to get smarter, fast.

Cartoons, and the collective process of cartoon creation and reflection, can harness the power of humour, taking us from darkness to spark illumination and transformative action. Martin Luther King said: “We need creative laughter amid difficulties and tension.”

Cartoon gallery
From failure of the imagination to humour-infused flow

Harnessing humour for humanitarian work