Shit Harper Did comedy and satire engages youth in the political process

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The Shit Harper Did comedy tour. Photo courtesy of Sarah Berman.

Apathy among young voters had always been a problem in Canada but the creators of shitharperdid.ca say they may have found a way to get young people interested in political issues.

Kevin Lee is one of the writers for the site, and his background in improv and stand-up comedy is one of the reasons he was chosen to help found the site.

“The political climate in Canada can be very boring,” Lee said.

“Politicians speak in repetition and dull tones and it can be a very unpersuasive method to get people engaged. Comedy circumvents all that and makes it funny and something you can identify with.”

Comedy as a means to an end

While the site may have an overt comedic tone it still strives to educate, and that the comedy is a means to an ends.

“It stems from reading [articles about the Harper government] and then wanting to get at the core of what is a bit absurd or unbelievable about what’s happening. That easily translates into comedy,” Lee said.

Essentially, those who run the site want to make Canadian politics less intimidating by providing a starting point and to also mitigate the feelings of alienation that can overwhelm someone interested in learning.

Marketing and social media approach

Another approach the founders of shitharperdid.ca are taking is to promote discussion on Canadian politics through the use of social media.

Jason Ho is an assistant professor at SFU, with a specialty in viral marketing, and said this is a good way to get youth interested.

“You need to treat the content created by any political party as a conversation to be passed along,” Ho said.

“It’s not like TV, where the brand talks to the audience. With viral content you can make the sender of the content feel like that can be a part of the conversation they can have with their friend.”

“That’s why humour works so well.”

According to Ho, the key part to making content viral is to make the consumer see an opportunity to connect with other consumers or another audience. That’s critical.

“Its not so much about the content putting forth persuasive content. If you want to get the content viral, you have to make sure the audience would pass that thing among themselves to have a conversation.”

Reported by Brian Horstead

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