AWGIES Awards this year used the transformative power of comedy to enlighten and entertain the audience who had no difficulty in comprehending the issues highlighted and presented through light-hearted comedy as proved through a science stand-up comedy project held in Portugal between 2009 and 2013. The initiative began six years ago when Cathy Borun Chatoo and American University’s Centre for Media and Social Impact began “The Laugher Effect” which experimented with comedy and its impact on social change. The team studied audiences’ responses to serious communications about serious issues when compared to a funny way of presenting the same grim ones. Young audiences’ positive reaction was a proof not only of their comprehension but also of their engagement. Capable of implementing social changes, the targeted young audience’s emotional responses and retention of the issues raised were essential and hence the significance or need of “comedy dealing with social justice as an art form.”
The presenter of the show, Bjorn Stewart, takes the responders on a journey through an interesting announcement of the winners, contrary to the usual boring list of winners that the audience must sit through before they get to the entertainment segments. Next, the show provides the audience the opportunity of viewing a one-man enactment which sheds light on ABC’s need to cut down 250 jobs or staff across news, entertainment etc to meet a $41 million annual budget shortfall. A school going child’s announcement of the award for ‘Total Control’ with an emphasis on the scriptwriter’s lack of control over her life because of alcohol consumption precedes a musical performance by Jan Van De Stool, International Music Therapist. A rollercoaster ride, the musical number takes the audience through the impact of COVID-19 touching upon social distancing, job cuts, careers’ disappearance, applications made for job seeker payments and grants and its rejections; the scandalous affair of the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian with the disgraced MP of Waga Waga, Daryl Maguire; the Minister of Arts’ suspension who failed to produce the paperwork for $252 million Stronger Communities Fund and issues with Aussie content, weight gain etc summing up the significant events of 2020.
On par with forceful comedians–Louis CK, Sarah Silverman, Colin Quinn, Lisa Campanelli, Todd Glass, who presented heavy subjects in a brilliant, comic and thought-provoking way. While being innovative with humour, care taken not to cross the line, be less intimidating or offend the subjects or organizations showed the organisers and presenters skill and efficiency. The AWGIES 53rd Annual Awards committee is in consensus with George Bernard Shaw’s statement, “If you’re going to tell people the truth, you better make them laugh. Otherwise, they’ll kill you.” There are no words to express the magical feeling about people laughing in unison at the show, though from remote locations.