Societal issues and problems usually induce frustration, not laughter. One Provo duo is trying to help solve some societal problems and alleviate the frustration, all through laughter.
Alicia Gettys and Zach Atherton are passionate about finding solutions to some of society’s most pressing problems — think homelessness, the opioid epidemic, etc. They are also passionate about comedy. They combined the two and recently released a web series, “Solution Time,” which discusses solutions to these types of big problems through humor.
“There are amazing solutions out there that no one’s heard of,” Atherton said. “We want to identify proven solutions that work, and then translate the solution into something digestible and shareable. So, we’re sharing that through the vehicle of comedy.”
An example of this approach is in their first episode, “How to End Veteran Homelessness.” Atherton, owner of ImprovBroadway, is the host, and throws in jokes about Isaac Newton, “Days of Our Lives,” and the Boston Red Sox, while also talking seriously about helping homeless veterans find “a path out of poverty.”
Using the example of New Orleans and other cities that have completely eradicated veteran homelessness, the episode outlines the exact steps these communities around the country took. Those steps include actionable efforts from local legislators down to the mayoral level, partnerships between government and nonprofits, and outreach efforts.
Each episode on “Solution Time” will be similar to this first one, where Atherton will highlight real solutions for “a seemingly unfixable problem.” Atherton and Gettys hope each episode acts as a campaign to spur communities to action. Their website, https://solutiontime.tv, will be a gathering place for these campaigns, with meaningful ways people in different roles can get involved.
“Solving social problems is a community effort,” Gettys said. “Most social issues are not solved by just government or citizens or businesses — it’s everyone coming together to alleviate a cause they are passionate about.”
Gettys is a communications operations director at the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance at Brigham Young University. As she likes to say, “charities sometimes faileth.”
“As average citizens, it’s hard to know which organizations are doing it right,” Gettys said. After 18 years working in the nonprofit sector, Gettys feels uniquely qualified to help others find the organizations who are doing things best. She is committed to giving a voice to the smart organizations who have successful solutions.
“We’re showcasing great solutions, and how different communities can take the core of what’s working and adapt it to their community,” Gettys said.
Gettys and Atherton, who met when Gettys took an improvisation class through ImprovBroadway, prototyped and revised “Solution Time” for three years before launching it in November. Gettys said she hopes this venture is successful enough to make the need for it non-existent.
“If we could pinpoint where we actually made a difference in some city, that would mean the most for us,” Atherton said.
Future episodes, released every quarter, will discuss solutions to the opioid epidemic and prison recidivism, as well as other topics.