Comedy is often aimed at critiquing politics, but a night of laughter at Jokes for Votes — a standup comedy show held at the University Student Union Northridge Center at California State University, Northridge on Oct. 14 — brought comedy and politics together for the same cause.
The show was the fourth stop on the Jokes for Votes tour organized by Funny or Die and NextGen Climate, visiting over a dozen California college campuses in an effort to increase voter registeration amongst young people before the state deadline on Oct. 24. Popular comedians such as Kumail Nanjiani, Sarah Silverman and Demetri Martin are participating headliners.
Nanjiani and comedians Beth Stelling, James Adomian and Jordan Rock treated CSUN students and community members to some comic relief while giving them an opportunity to politically engage — all without mentioning politics in their routines.
Rock, who hosted the show, said comedy and politics go hand in hand.
“Comics speak the truth and they are some of the only people… who get to actually use their own words on stage,” Rock said. “So comedy helps everybody come together. Laughter is the best medicine — it’s what we need in this world right now.”
Voter registration tables were strategically placed in the Northridge Center’s lobby so students had an opportunity to register before or after the show. Associated Students coordinated the event as part of an initiative to get students to register for the Nov. 8 election. Through events like the Big Politics fair on Oct. 6, AS has registered more than 1,000 students so far, according to Austin Ysais, program coordinator for AS Productions.
“Our goal is to get students engaged in current topics right now and give them an opportunity to register to vote,” Ysais said. “This is something the student leadership, especially AS President Sevag Alexanian and Vice President Kenya Lopez, are focused on achieving. Hopefully we will meet our goal [of registering 2016 students] — it would be good for the campus to have that many people registered, especially in such an interesting year in politics.”
Sophomore and mechanical engineering major Ryan Bratcher registered to vote at the show. Bratcher said he might not have registered if he did not go to the show, as the deadline is coming up very soon.
“I’ve been asked a lot between my parents and everybody why I’m not voting,” Bratcher said. “I walked in and I thought, even if I decide not to vote, I might as well get registered.”
Bratcher said a comedy show was a great way to make politics more accessible for students.
“When you think about registering to vote or get involved in any kind of politics, it’s very serious,” Bratcher said. “But once you throw in a couple jokes, you break the ice and you get more comfortable.”
The California voter registration deadline is Oct. 24. To register online, visit http://registertovote.ca.gov. You can register in person at county elections offices, any Department of Motor Vehicles office, and many post offices, public libraries, and other government offices. Jokes for Votes invites you to register through your phone by texting 384-387.