Comedy as Transportation Advocacy: Fun Streetfilms to Employ
As you can see above, we just had some pretty huge numbers with our Peatónito production, following the masked superhero around New York City filming him protecting pedestrians from bad car drivers in the crosswalks. It just got me thinking: over the years we have used humor quite a bit (though not as much as I always want to) to make our advocacy beliefs stronger, to engage the public and to educate the general population about transportation.
Below is a nice curated list of our best work. Hopefully it will get those of you who may be pondering ways to get the attention of your community that viral comedy/parody done right, can yield results - sometimes better than years of hard work.
As many of you already know, we got so, so lucky to get a chance to work with Kate McKinnon, the funniest current cast member of Saturday Night Live and now segueing into a Hollywood megastar. We did a series of Streetfilms featuring her as Veronica Moss, an auto lobbyist fighting for the rights of car owners in D.C. Here we placed her in the midst of the recently made car-free Times Square to offer her thoughts. One of the favorites on our site.
Working with established groups is a great thing. The Riders Alliance in New York City was conducting campaigns trying to get New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to agree to fully fund the MTA capital plan for subways, buses and commuter rail. We hatched a great idea: get a cardboard cut out of the Governor and have him actually ride the trains and interact with customers. Eventually thanks to the work of probably a dozen groups he agreed to fund it (though update: he still has not actually dedicated the money!)
I used to put myself out there to try to get attention. When New York City installed its first protected bike lane under Janette Sadik-Khan we wanted to highlight it in a great way different than the rest of the press. This was the result. Believe me, just about every group of advocates have a class clown or humorous spokesperson that you can put on camera to do the same. (Though this is also coming from someone once wore a Sasquatch costume to explain traffic calming.)
A lot of people love our four Streetfilms featuring the hysterical, but critical Hal Ruzal from Bicycle Habitat showing you the dangers of locking your bike improperly. The numbers on these popular videos are always so high, we can't go too long without asking him back to do another one. 2016?
Finally, sometimes you can twist the ridiculousness of what city agencies and polices are and show how absurd they really are. For example, in NYC we have about a dozen or so "Gridlock Alert" days around the holidays. These do mostly nothing. But you can go out and have some fun with them as Mark Gorton, one of our biggest funders and supporters, shows during this hilarious poke that can easily be duplicated in your city.
We have had plenty of fun on Streetfilms. I recommend exploring more to find ways to make shorts that are fun and sometimes ridiculously fun!