Comedy and Climate Change are Paired Together in Whimsical Play at The Aquarium This Sunday


Image created by Meghan O'Brien.

Climate change and comedy are two nouns not normally seen together, as one is certainly not a laughing matter. But when you put the minds of an oceanographer and theater expert together, they might just produce exactly that: a comedy about our earth’s current dire situation. And what better way to learn than to laugh?

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While melting ice caps and rising water levels have long since been proven a reality, what are the consequences of this global change? Where will the animals be forced to relocate? Obviously, the Lollywoods. In The Lollygaggers, a sketch-meets-global-warming musical coming to the Aquarium of the Pacific this Sunday, animals, puppets and scientists alike are forced to coexist in new and hilarious whimsical situations.

Created by Josh Willis, Ph.D., an oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory specializing in sea level rise and ocean warming and partner in crime Rani O’Brien, an experienced theater director and co-writer, The Lollygaggers is a comedic introduction to global warming for children and adults alike, presented using what O’Brien calls “the visceral effect of laughter.”

O’Brien understands that when it comes to following rules, kids view the situation as a game. Therefore, making learning about climate change a fun activity is hers and Willis’ ultimate goal.

“To put it simply, no one who’s going to be changed or needs to learn is going to pay attention if it’s not fun,” she said. “Even most adults.”


Photo courtesy of Josh Willis.

Willis had given public talks on climate change for years and always tried to make them entertaining. However, it wasn’t until he met a teacher named Matt Craig from the Second City Improv School in Hollywood, took a few classes there, and eventually met O’Brien, that he realized a comedy about global warming might actually be a fantastic way to teach audiences about the planet’s immediate environmental needs.

Willis, who has a minor in theater from the University of Houston, said theater is always something he’s loved, but his science career kept him a bit too busy to pursue it, until now. Both Willis and O’Brien believe theater can bring about change and be a thought-provoking method of raising awareness for all ages.

“As Rani often says, we hope kids from three to 93 have a good time and come away with a little better understanding of climate change and how it's changing the planet,” he said.

“Near the end of the show we allow the audience to ask Josh questions,” O’Brien explained. “Every performance a kid asks a really compelling question about the environment, climate change, or how to go about ‘fixing’ the problem. This excites both of us because we know they gathered some of that information from The Lollygaggers, and that they are already starting to think critically about global warming.”

The Lollygaggers will take place on Sunday, August 16 from 7:00PM to 9:00PM. Tickets are $10 per person or $8 for aquarium members. For more information, click here

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