‘Daily Show’ co-founder talks about media, activism and comedy during Conference on World Affairs

The Conference on World Affairs hosted “Laughing Matters: How to Use Humor to Activate and Educate” in memory of columnist, author, political commentator and humorist Molly Ivins on Thursday.

Lizz Winstead and Ron Bostwick discussed the use of comedy both as a tool to engage audiences and as a motivator. Winstead is a comedian, author and radio and television personality. She co-created The Daily Show, co-hosted Air America Radio and founded Lady Parts Justice League in 2012, an organization focused on raising awareness about women’s reproductive rights.

Winstead began the talk with a short story of a blind date with a sports fanatic that ended in watching the news in a sports bar on the night of the first Gulf War. She spoke of how, while watching coverage on CNN, she wasn’t sure if the network was trying to “report on a war or sell me a war.”

She started paying more attention to the news and what it meant to tell these stories. As a result, she co-created The Daily Show. In its beginning, she was the head writer, satirizing the news.

“It is really important to me that the media has a character,” Winstead said. “When you work in corporate media, that ‘call to action,’ it isn’t there.”

Winstead later spoke of her work with Lady Parts Justice League. The organization’s motivation sat close to her heart when she founded it and still does, years later.

Two weeks ago, Lady Parts Justice League released a video called “I’m Just a Pill.” The video addresses the idea that birth control can cause abortions.

At the end of the talk, Bostwick opened the floor to questions. Someone asked Winstead, “What do you do to get men to stop talking about reproductive rights?”

In response, Winstead said, “Talk about them. If you hear something that is sexist and awful, stop it!”

Another individual asked what the best advice that Winstead had ever gotten was.

“You matter — act like it,” she said.

Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Anna Blanco at anna.blanco@colorado.edu.

Lucy Haggard

Lucy Haggard is in her third year at CU Boulder, born and raised in Colorado. She was the Editor-In-Chief during Fall 2018, working primarily on coverage of Title IX at CU. She helps the CUI cover campus and the local community in the most aesthetically and audibly pleasing ways possible. When not on assignment, she's probably dancing way too early in the morning.

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