This week we discover how Rollie Williams made the unlikely transition from young comedian to Climate Change activist.
Originally from Colorado, Rollie moved to New York with the aim of becoming a successful comedian. He was beginning to make an impression and, pretty soon after arriving, he was asked to perform a show at Brooklyn Theatre. Not sure exactly what to do, Rollie decided he would experiment with a comedy routine based around Climate Change: “I picked it up as a joke, I was going to call it: An Inconvenient Truth 2 – Listen Up You Fugly Dispshits.” Describing the show, he says: “I played Al Gore, a kind of strung out, I told-ya-so kinda guy”. He would also have a real climate scientist on the show as part of the entertainment.
As part of the preparation for the show, Rollie read the latest articles researching Climate Change in order to have material for his jokes. A year after beginning his show and conducting his research, Rollie began to realise that the situation was far from a joke: “it became clear to me that this is a big, big problem.”
As a result, Rollie decided to go back to school and he studied a Master’s degree in Climate Science and Policy. He then used this knowledge to set up his own YouTube channel: Climate Town, where he explains some of the topics he has studied, such as carbon offsetting. In Rollie’s words: “Carbon offsetting is like cheating on your wife: we know we shouldn’t but we can… we can cheat on our wives and pay another company not to cheat on their wives. [In reality] we all need to stop cheating on every wife before our wife burns our house to the ground!”
As you can see, Rollie’s manner of communicating the issues regarding Climate Change is unique. But Rollie believes that you’re much more likely to get a positive reaction from people if you can relate to them on a level they find engaging: “Climate change can get boring, computer modelling is not that fun… I’m trying to make it more fun so people will want to get into it a little more.”
Rollie also believes that, as Climate Change begins to affect more and more people, they will be less able to ignore what is happening around them. Talking about the forest fires in California, he paints a vivid picture of how all the way up to New York the effects could be seen: “The sky was orange…I could see dogs on the street that were not having it, they did not want to be outside, it was like a sign of the apocalypse.”
Rollie is optimistic that the change which needs to happen will occur, in his own words: “Most days and most times, I feel galvanised and optimistic that we as people can come together and put the policy changes we need through… putting a price on carbon and going all clean electricity… they’re a little bit farther away than I was hoping for but they’re not off the table.”