Another ClimateTech Podcast

Climate change is hilarious with Stuart Goldsmith

December 11, 2023 Ryan Grant Little
Another ClimateTech Podcast
Climate change is hilarious with Stuart Goldsmith
Show Notes Transcript

Stuart Goldsmith is one of the only people out there who can make me LOL about climate change. I caught his act on YouTube thanks to "the Algorithm" and was thrilled that he said yes when I invited him on the podcast. Especially since he's in front of slightly larger audiences like the Conan O'Brien Show and Wembley Arena. This episode has some important insights nested in some good laughs.

Check out Stuart's website and Instagram.


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Ryan Grant Little:

Welcome to another Climate Tech Podcast interviews with the people trying to save us from ourselves. Stuart Goldsmith is a stand-up comedian whose own climate anxiety has led him to develop an entire routine about climate change. He's been described both as the funny side of climate change and as someone who serves as a cherry on top of a very satisfying cake. It was way too much fun researching this episode, since it just involved me watching YouTube clips of Stuart's very funny stuff, so I hope you enjoy listening to this as much as I enjoy it recording it. I'm Ryan Grant Little. Thanks for being here. Stuart, Welcome to the podcast.

Stuart Goldsmith:

Thank you for having me. It's a great joy to be here. It's lovely not to be speaking to yet another comedian.

Ryan Grant Little:

You're a stand-up comedian and you've performed on the Conan O'Brien show in front of Wembley Arena.

Stuart Goldsmith:

Yeah, I was inside Wembley Arena. I was performing at Wembley Arena. I have been a street performer in my time, but on this occasion I was not in front of Wembley Arena, I was in it.

Ryan Grant Little:

Okay, you've been at a concert in Wembley Arena and you're a stand-up comedian. So you're a stand-up comedian who's been at Wembley Arena. I understand.

Stuart Goldsmith:

I was very lucky I was performing a support slot for a hugely famous comic, so I did a couple of nights actually of doing like 15 or 20 minutes before the main act came on to 16,000 people, wow, okay, I'm not nervous, because I thought it was funny that you said in front I'm not obsessed with my credentials in the way that certain Americans stand-ups are.

Ryan Grant Little:

So are you nervous to be in front of the another climate tech podcast audience now?

Stuart Goldsmith:

Well, you know, it's not nerves exactly. I go towards things that scare me. I always have. I've had a very fun career on that basis. But what is exciting about this? It's a relief and a joy to be talking about something different, but also I have to keep reminding myself that, as a comic in the climate space, I have something to offer, because I'm not an expert on climate and we were talking before we hit record, about how many PhDs you would need and how many subjects in order to feel like you really understood all of it. I do have to remind myself that I have something to bring to the table, that my expertise in communication and in smuggling in difficult messages and tuning and finessing difficult messages is a really important one. So I wouldn't say that I was nervous, but I do often go into I go as a comedian, as a sort of external comedian, someone who's never had a real job, never had a salary. I go into very high level corporate environments and I do occasionally need to check myself before I walk in the door and say you have something to offer. It's not a problem that you're not from this world, it's a benefit.

Ryan Grant Little:

And so the downside is there aren't 16,000 people listening to this, but the upside is a lot of them do have those PhDs, and I reached out to you because you're performing what I these days consider a public service, which is making us laugh in the face of the climate crisis, and as someone who works full time in the space, I can say that humor is pretty much the only thing that keeps me going, especially since I quit drinking. So, how did she decide to pursue this as a niche?

Stuart Goldsmith:

Well, I mean, it's a very sort of it's a kind of actuary thing to say, well, I think it chose me, but all I really mean by that is I have been a standard comment for nearly 20 years and I was. It's a combination of things. A combination of things. I was suffering from enormous eco-dread myself. I really I would start to you know, as someone who is outside of a kind of you know, a sort of what would I say, a mediated kind of corporate experience or a scientific or an academic experience. Been a long time since I went to college and I exist in this funny frothy little world of stand up and I read the newspapers and I sort of you know the way. When COVID happened, about six months before COVID, you started seeing little page 18 stories that crept closer and closer and closer to the front page. We are clearly some way into a kind of macrocosmic version of that now and my climate alarm bells, my dread alarm bells, were really ringing. Now in comedy we say the problems are the material and this is a big problem, and normally I write shows. I've written 10 or 11 hour long stand up shows that I've taken on tour or to the Edinburgh Festival around the world and they have always been about problems that I have. They've been about the problem of being a new parent, the problem of managing anxiety, those sorts of things, and this is a problem that I can't stop thinking about, and so it is completely natural to me to get on stage and try and talk about it, try and make it funny, and the journey of working out what to say, whether I can be useful. You know there are comics are tackling it, but they're mostly tackling it by throwing their hands up and making jokes about how screwed we all are, and I like being useful. I'm a fixer and I wanted to see if there was something useful I could do where I could fix myself, I could process and manage my climate dread and also maybe I could do something useful for other people people in the audience, people online, people in you know I mentioned corporate events Because I've had this podcast for a long time. I have spoken to over 450 comics in depth about their creative process over years and years, and I sort of turned that into a talk I give to businesses, where I speak to businesses about personal resilience from the perspective of comedians, and people found it useful. I've been doing that for nearly five years, and the response is very different to simply making a room full of people laugh, which I love. 腰 Potatoes are the only way people can slow down while a long time, like Peiance Patnik. These days it wears off quite quickly, and so actually having people say I keep thinking about that thing you said and it's really helped me with problem XYZ, it's a sort of confluence of things. This is an opportunity to process and manage my own eco-dread to help in some way. You know and that's an ongoing journey, as I'm sure it is for you, is it? You know the narrative of the swing in my head, the kind of the firework display Can anything be done? Can I do anything? Is that, are we lost? Oh God? And then the next day I feel wildly optimistic, everything's going to be okay, we're going to pull through. And then the next day you feel differently. Managing all of that, processing all of that and trying to do something useful is why I'm. It's not that I've chosen to do this so much as, oh God, I can't not do this.

Ryan Grant Little:

Why do comics have kind of a special depth of resilience? Is it because you have the highs and lows and sometimes you give your routine to a cold room?

Stuart Goldsmith:

Oh God, absolutely. The defining characteristic of all comics is that we're resilient. You simply cannot do the job without the ability to die. We call it death in comedy when you get no reaction. Every professional comic has died 100 times and there are that feeling it's horrible to watch, it's worse to do to actively do it and be on stage and going. I am tanking this. I've got the controls of the aircraft of this gig and I'm just pointing them at the ground and I can't pull them up. It's a horrible feeling. As well as that, we have to cope with isolation. We have to cope with criticism. We have to cope with self criticism, we have to manage our rumination All of these things that people in all walks of life, in all careers, have to do. Comics, I think we feel them very extremely. We're often on our own, with no oversight, with no organization looking after us, with no one we can necessarily talk to who has a process for how to deal with these things. I hope that my podcast has become a small part of that. For a lot of comics I believe it has. And so we not only feel these things very bigly, as they say in the Simpsons, but also we comics articulate our feelings very well. We are paid to be on stage complaining and to complain and to process and sort of expound our feelings and extemporize and say well, everybody, listen to me because this is what I'm going through and really the secret of comedy is to be able to tell the audience what they're going through by telling them what you're going through.

Ryan Grant Little:

Bigly is a very, very cromulent word. Thank you very much. Thank you, it embiggens us all. It embiggens us all. Indeed, you have a whole show about the climate crisis called Spoilers and it was one of the highest rated stand-up shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. You talk about us being a frank and funny look at how we can all do more to alleviate our own dread and combat inertia in the face of the greatest challenged humanity has ever faced. So basically, as you've just talked about sort of managing this existential dread, so no pressure, but I mean it's a big claim. Does it do what it says on the tin? What kinds of reactions do you get from the audience, aside from, you know, hopefully laughter?

Stuart Goldsmith:

Yes, I hope it does do what it says on the tin. And the reactions I get from the audience are people say thank you, people say, oh God, I'm so glad you're saying that out loud, because I'm thinking that and I'm feeling that and I can't get that out of my head. There is a section of the show where I solicit climate confessions from my audience and in a warm and forgiving, generous way I get people to admit. You know, there's some guy who said, a guy from Oklahoma. He said he'd taken the catalytic converter off his car so that it would sound better. You know like that's an extreme example. There are people who there was one gentleman who said he has his hot tub set to a timer so it's always warm in the morning in case he wants to get in and he often doesn't. But what's fun about that? Not that I'm celebrating these actions. I'm sort of celebrating the admission of these actions, because as I confront what can I usefully do? And as we may talk about, there is a concern there. For me, comedy is a pressure release. Is it good to be releasing steam about this? Should we not be building up ahead of steam? Should we not be? But there's an argument that says we shouldn't be coping, we should be getting angry and using that anger to create and to motivate action. I hope what I'm doing with the show and with these confessions in particular, is saying, listen, if we hide away, you know, keeping quiet about our own climate, guilt and fearing being called out on our hypocrisy is just another way of sticking our heads in the sand. It's just another way of pretending that this isn't really happening. It isn't happening to me. It's not going to be as big as everyone else. Oh, come on, it can't be that bad. And actually we have to confront it. And that is what comedy is really good at doing is confronting bad news with laughter and saying, oh Mike, I'm holding hands and saying isn't this awful? Let's accept it's awful and let's try and change, rather than we don't accept that we're in serious trouble, we don't accept the challenges, or immense, and we run away and hide and we feel small and sheltered.

Ryan Grant Little:

Yeah, I think taking action and also blowing off steam is really kind of the middle way between denial and burnout, right, I mean, it's the only way forward because if you just try to take action and I see this a lot in the industry a lot of people right now are, you know COP28 is coming up and it's, you know, not looking super great. We're 2024 is going to be the hottest year on record and you know things are going to get worse before they get better, if they do get better. And so we have to kind of put on the shoes for the long run. And I think for me also, blowing off steam is really important and that's why humor for me is really, I think, important.

Stuart Goldsmith:

I absolutely just on that point. I there are all sorts of people that come to see the show and there are all sorts of people at different places in there and I can't think of a better word than journey. But you know people. You know some people have got PhDs in. You know climate management or resources, whatever. Some people have read some blogs. Some people have not paid attention to it at all and don't really Some people are are you tubing how to take off their catalytic converter? 100%. Yes, some people are getting annoyed at Gretchen Tonberg's tweets and tweeting underneath saying they're going to do extra donuts in their SUV, you know. And so everyone's in a different place. One of the reactions I get quite a lot in certainly in the research of the show and in the performance after the performance of the show, people who work in climate say, oh God, thank you. I needed to laugh about this, and one of the things I'm realizing is that people who work in climate sectors climate adjacent sectors are burnt out and stressed and they feel like they're going crazy because they think about this and worry about this in their working life. And then they go home and they don't want to tell their partner about it because they don't want to be a drag and their partner hears it a lot and maybe their partner's happy and they want to protect them. And then they go to the bar or the pub or some you know some of the hangout. They socialize. They go to the barbecue on a Saturday and they don't want to. What have you been doing at work, steve, and I don't really want to talk about it. Or maybe they do want to talk about it and the other people go. Can you, let's save this. Oh God, he's off again. Do you mean that thing? There is a lot of that about, and the more that we can collectively go. This is real. Let's laugh about it. Let's be okay. Let's not laugh at the crisis, but let's laugh at our fears. Then the more those people can. You know what we like. As I've said numerous times, I'm not an expert, but I know how to help experts. If experts are feeling lonely and afraid and burnt out, I can help with that.

Ryan Grant Little:

I mean, the climate crisis is so large and so broad that there is no one type of expert, right? I mean, I see this also in the investment space and the startup space. Nobody can know everything, and that's some of the anxiety that people have when they enter the space, especially as they feel they don't know enough about everything. But in the end, you don't need to know everything. Everybody is playing a supporting role, working towards one goal right, and whether you're an investor or a coach or a PhD or a comedian, everybody has a role to play in working towards this goal. I think a lot of the people who work in this space and also in the impact world, just in the world of trying to save humanity in different ways, have come to the realization that laying out the facts and some of the doom and gloom that doesn't lead to change, right. People need to have a glimmer of hope and have to see that some of that, their actions, will matter, right, and they have to see what they can do. One of my heroes, especially these days, is Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, who's a comedian, and even now, if you listen to his interviews, he still manages to be funny, even after all that's happened. The most recent interview I saw with him he described the five or six attempts to assassinate him as like the first one is very interesting and after that it's just like COVID. I think you know, like where do you draw on this kind of stuff? And I wonder you know, do you have any heroes like Volodymyr Zelensky, who have used humor before under difficult circumstances or to get through difficult times?

Stuart Goldsmith:

Thank you, that's a really good question. I think one of the quotes that I keep thinking about is from Mark Twain, and I say this to my children often and I try and say it to myself. You know, when you talk to your children about something, you're really talking to yourself, trying to, you know, trying to remind yourself. I'm one of those people who works out what he thinks by saying it out loud. The quote I come back to all the time is it's something like there have been some terrible things in my life, some of which have actually happened, and I love that. I think that is so smart and so witty, but also it's a witty way of saying a really important truth that I suffer from terrible anxiety and pre climate, pre climate awakening. I suppose I was mastering that anxiety. That's part of what my show is about is that's the starting point of my show is like hey, I've made it, I've done it, I've got kids and a wife and a house and a career, and I'm happy and everything's okay, just in time for the world to end, oh God. I've suddenly realized this is happening, and I think that I have struggled with anxiety a lot and now my anxiety is kind of a creating around the climate crisis, understandably, I would say, and that's one of the messages of the show. One of the things I want to tell people is You're not going nuts. It's totally reasonable to be freaking out about this. It's reasonable to be scared. It's reasonable to swing wildly between hope and despair, you know. So that idea of there have been many terrible things in my life and some of them have actually happened reminds me that we have to focus on the logic of the situation, and that's, you know I'm sure most of your other guests always do focus on the logic of the situation. I hope it's not tedious that the comedians coming on saying the same thing, but we have to, almost like as they would say in cognitive behavioral therapy you know you have to your thoughts determine your emotions. We have to be Turn with ourselves and not let ourselves disappear into hope. A conclusion, one of the conclusions I reach in the show is that we're only screwed if we think we screwed and if we behave as if all of our worst fears will come true regardless of what we do, then I had to back in the sand without asking you for a table of contents about the routine.

Ryan Grant Little:

Can you talk? You mentioned a few of them already. Hypocrisy is probably a pretty common light motif. What are some of the things you cover in the routine?

Stuart Goldsmith:

Well I talk a little bit about. I start with hypocrisy. That's kind of the before fifth of the show, where I talk about the demotivating factor of the fear of being called a hypocrite, stopping one from doing anything, and about the fact that we are all completely wrapped up in this carbon economy, and so that is another. It's a demotivator. We think, well, I drive a diesel vehicle, I shouldn't say anything about this. People call me a hypocrite and it's so easy to level that accusation. Activists now, I'm not much of an activist, but I really respect their passion, I really respect what they do, and part of one of the goals of the show really a kind of sub agenda is to soft launch people's activism to say, look at extinction rebellion, look at just stop oil here in the UK. Let's reconsider what these people are doing, because it's not a million miles away from the suffragettes. You know. It's the theory of the radical flank. One of my favorite jokes in the show is about how I'll burn this joke for your podcast, but it's about how the we need the radical flank to get the conversation in the newspapers and get the headlines and then, once that's happening, the radicals melt away and the more moderate people can have the right conversations. It's a bit like before snoop dog can get the cookery show, he first needs to sell a load of crack in the nineties. So it's about kind of ways of reappraising some of the assumptions we make in the things we take for granted. So I would like to invite people through the show to reconsider activism, now that a lot of activists come to the show and that's great and I hope they feel boosted and I hope it helps them. I talk a lot about anger, I talk a lot about blame. I talk about the well. I have. This kind of a kind of core premise of the show is that whenever I feel I see a new news story or I see a new fact or hear something, I'm reminded of this, the severity of the climate crisis. I fall down this well in my head and it's up to me. I sit there at the bottom of it feeling angry, feeling ashamed, feeling guilty, but none of the tools to fix the climate crisis. Or at the bottom of a well, we have to climb back out, and I talk about the way I do it. I scraped together whatever positive notions I can to use as kind of pitons to climb back up the wall of the well to get myself out, and so there are real ones and funny ones and contrived ones and what have you. So it's about as I tried to work out what can I use fully do I thought I want to talk about the climate. I can offer solutions to the climate, but I do know something about worry. I do know about how I, how I process my own anxiety, and I am a more functional, optimistic, energetic person when I'm feeling good and positive and angry, compared to when I'm sat feeling bad at the bottom of a well. So if the show can say to people you might feel like you're at the bottom of a well, is it useful to you to consider that kind of analogy? How might you climb up for it? We're all at the bottom of the well sometimes. Let's try and climb up out of it together. And if all I do is I just say to people you're not going mad, there is work to be done here and you can find out more, rather than being so scared and depressed, you avoid it. Because I think there are. I know there are people in my family, there are people all over the world who say you know I'm I've stopped watching the news. You know I stop, it's too scary. I stop watching the news and one of the points about the show is you have to continue watching the news. You have to be like. Just like in lots of social justice issues, we have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Ryan Grant Little:

It's really a form of entitlement, isn't it? When you hear people say that that I'm just gonna tune out and kind of whatever happens happen yes, which is not to say that self care doesn't exist.

Stuart Goldsmith:

You have to be responsible, you have to manage your intake. It's equally not useful to do scroll. You know, we know that. But you know find ways to Learn from trusted sources that aren't driven by an algorithm of outrage. You know find ways to engage with it that suit you and that make you feel active. This is not I'm not being very funny. This is the difficulty. As a comic, I'm always like I've got several hats and I'm like these are things I passionately think. And here's a joke on the end and the best bits of my show and the versions of it that I offered to business and what have you? I kind of tailor a version to try and recharge people's climate messaging. I can say to a CSR leader, a sustainability person you know what messaging is tired because your people have heard it hundreds of times and I can tell me that I'll try and make that funny. That requires a bit of writing and a bit of thought and you know fight to find a way to inject humor into it. And there are moments of my show when I'm like I'm so proud of that because that bit of stand up material is completely infused with the climate and there are bits of my show where I've, by necessity, taken an easier route. Here's a climate fact and here's a funny joke on the end which is sort of arbitrary but it suits and it's been finessed and I get away with it. But the bits I'm hoping for and the bits that I'm trying to write at the moment, going forward, are bits where it's just completely about the climate and it's also relatable and funny and it is not easy.

Ryan Grant Little:

But I'm picturing your rebirth as a self help guru from anxiety to action. Climate change in the twenty percent.

Stuart Goldsmith:

We've all seen what happens when comedians turn into self help gurus, so I will really try to tread very carefully.

Ryan Grant Little:

No cooking show for you. So these days I mean as you've mentioned this a couple of times but a lot of performers. You know it's in the nature of the business as a performer that you're for hire for private and corporate events. I'm curious you know who is booking you for these types of events and what are they asking. What are they hoping to get out of it as an outcome? Are you there for Christmas parties, or what does it look like?

Stuart Goldsmith:

Yes. Well, what I'm most excited to be doing in the moment is I find that this is happening. People are booking me to kick off or to round off A day of sustainability, of looking at sustainability in a new way. I did something for a big, big banking group recently and listen, I'm that's a thing. I'm navigating as well. No one's hands are completely clean, but I do hope I'm helping people who want to help. There's a lot of people in sustainability within larger organizations who passionately care about it, and often their story is suddenly I'm the sustainability lead and I'm a team of one and the CEO is basically saying can you tick all the boxes for me, please, so that I can get on with making money? And it's not like that, and so my part of my concept is to help people like that. Explain to the rest of the organization the CEO as well, if they happen to be there in a funny and sort of palatable way. That isn't good enough. This is the work of the rest of our lives. Everything has to change is not a case of box ticking. It's a case of Everybody getting on board and changing everything. And what an opportunity. Let's change everything about how we work. So often I will. I mean that's and that's where my Long experience comes into play, as if I end up speaking to thirty kind of see sweet people from a mortgage brokers at ten am on a Tuesday morning in a boardroom with a mic but no lights and no stage going right and now a comedian to start us off. That's what I really. I've got to dig deep and draw on the experience. Those things have been really fun and I'm very pleased to get. I get feedback from those things that we're still doing eco confessions. For the rest of the day we're talking about it in a different way and that is music to my ears. So I will often I'll kick something off or I'll round up. You know there'll be three hours of punishing graphs and then someone at the end. That's upbeat and different and sometimes a surprise. I love it when people book me and I don't know they're going to. You know the audience don't know what it's gonna be and what I love to do it, as I said, is to tailor what I'm doing. So I did one recently online forum. I love working remotely as well much lower carbon debt. I did one for a great big strategic consultancy based in Germany, but so you know hundreds of people of their staff all over the world, where they I said beforehand, okay, what problems we try to solve things are you, the sustainability team, trying to solve? And they were very German about it and sent me an amazing two pages of bullet points. We think this, we have to say this, we must say this. These people say this we constantly hear this, this, this and this, and that's fantastic because one of their big things was flying. They say all of our staff, their consultants, their high level, elite people, they feel entitled to the business class lounge, they feel entitled to fly to the states to attend a workshop. And we have to say to them you, we know that feels lovely and we know you feel special, but we have to realign what we think of as our the treats that we deserve and we need to think about those differently. I get the briefing sheet of saturday morning going how can I fix these problems? And I have to remember no, they have to fix the problems. I have to raise the problems, make the conversation palatable and help them, assist them in fixing their problems.

Ryan Grant Little:

Yeah, I think that's a really good point and you have to make some decisions around this. I also do consulting for large corporates and kind of. My bar is, you know, as long as there's a will to change. I mean, it's some of these biggest companies that we need to get on board right and that have the Largest footprint but also have the largest potential to make change right. So my bar is you know, is there a willingness? Is that a sincere willingness to change, or is this kind of you know something they want to be able to put in an annual report, and I think a lot of them are in the former camp, luckily, yes, I wonder.

Stuart Goldsmith:

I'm refining. I'm only just at the very beginning of realizing that I am refining and need to better refine my sense of today really care. A lot of the people I'm meeting really care, yeah, but once or twice I've had meetings people I've just had a little kind of spider sense of going oh, this is money making in a green hat, yes, but then maybe I just feel that the person I'm speaking to is a bit sales in their delivery. Maybe there's someone I've already ticked off in my head is like these guys mean it and actually that's because they're charming and they're saying the right things to me and I'm not expert enough. So that's. That's another thing I'm continuing to navigate, as I'm sure you do far more expertly than I.

Ryan Grant Little:

Or maybe they care but their boss doesn't care but their boss cares, and so on. Nested, you know, the responsibility taking it. Yeah, I mean, it's hard to know and you won't always get it wrong and you just, you know, you kind of put a black mark next to them for the next time, I guess. But yeah, that can be uncomfortable. I mean, are there any times that you've done the routine kind of at a corporation or somewhere where it didn't go well? I mean, I'm guessing probably the exon, exon annual meeting is not booking you.

Stuart Goldsmith:

I'm pleased not to have been approached by exon, thank you. But yes, I do have certain lines as to who I will work for, who I want. I'm pleased to say that it has not gone badly thus far, but I think that that is largely because the show is quite robust, because it had to be, because I've been building it in comedy clubs. The way any comedian works is they get out in the clubs, they go around the comedy circuit, as we call it, developing new material. You've got a new bit, you squeeze it between two good bits and try it out on a Friday night. I became very I had to become very sort of intentional about going out to a Friday night chicken in a basket comedy club. Maybe I'm headlining, maybe I'm on last. I've got a responsibility to land the plane and I've got a responsibility to be best and I'm going out there doing five minutes of trust me, I'm a comedian and then gear changing and going. Now we're going to talk about the climate and I realize you've paid for babysitters and I realize this is your Friday night out, but I'm going to talk about the climate and I'm going to make you eat it and that process which was not there. There were tougher gigs in that. That has been a real roller coaster. It has made the material robust because it's been pressure tested and at the moment, in the arc of kind of where I'm at with this show, I'm sitting pretty about to do a run at the Soho Theater. It's selling very nicely. I'm very excited to go and bring the show to more people. And so I've done all the robust, I've done the hard work. I just get to. It's like a victory lap this week. I can't wait for it. I'm just starting in a couple of days. But as regards the next show which I've just I've just got notions, at the moment I don't need to deliver it. Maybe for 18 months to a year. At some point within that time frame I'm going to have to get back out there in the clubs and go right. I know I can probably open with client. I can definitely open with climate now because I've got robust climate stuff and then I'm going to have to do weaker or experimental stuff and, as you can imagine, if I tell a joke about you know socks, then an audience, if they don't laugh at it, I'll just move on. If I tell a joke about ocean acidification a new joke, and the audience don't laugh at it. They're angry and sad. Now it's much harder to move on from and I'm very pleased not to be in the bowels of that experience right now, but they are. The bowels are always ahead of me, as no one has ever said before.

Ryan Grant Little:

Yeah, that's definitely not a Mark Twain quote.

Stuart Goldsmith:

I tell you what, though? Just mentioning quotes again, there's another thing I wanted to say, which is that it's a brilliant comedian who works in the UK called Catherine Bohart, an Irish comedian, and she says something like and I don't want to say that, I'll get the point across without quoting her deliberately, but she came on my podcast. She's a fantastic guest and brilliant comic. She talked about how there is always a part of the comic's brain and we all know this, but she articulated it very well, articulated it very well. She said there's always part of the comic's brain who is living in the worst moment of your life and a little part of you is thinking could this be funny? Could this be funny? I've been, you know, whatever it is. I've broken up with my partner, I've lost a family member, I mean just having a disaster, some awful thing is happening and a tiny part of you is going. Could this one day be funny? And I think that's. You know, if the problems are the material, the climate problems are going to remain topical, I'm sure, for the rest of my life. There's plenty of problems and we have to look at them. I my job. You don't have to do this. I have to look at them and go. Could this be funny?

Ryan Grant Little:

I love that Very interesting way to process trauma or cope. Yes.

Stuart Goldsmith:

And listen. Comedy isn't therapy you should get. But you can do comedy whilst also getting therapy Lots of it. One isn't a substitute for the other. That comedy can have a therapeutic value to the audience and sometimes it certainly does to the performer. You know, when you're going through something hard and you get to go on stage and complain about it every night and be lauded and applauded for the way you articulated the awful time you're having with your child or whatever, you know it can have a therapeutic value, but let's not substitute it for actual therapy, which so many of us so need.

Ryan Grant Little:

That's an excellent point. You talked a moment ago about talking to consultants, about business class travel, which feels to me like a very electric subject as well, because I know a lot of consultants. But one of your bits, I feel next time I fly economy, which is how I usually fly I'm going to hold my head up high and I wonder if you want to talk about your own policy about air travel.

Stuart Goldsmith:

Well, thank you, thanks for teeing me up. That was very well done, letterman. So I think that is true story. I did an engagement in Zurich. I flew to Zurich to talk about resilience and I had never flown business class before and they offered me business class flight and I'd always resented people in business class. When you have to walk through them, you have to walk between the people who are better than you and can prove it, and on this occasion I basically I talk in the set about being on the other side of the looking glass and go, oh my God, by the time I've been carried onto the plane by the pilot and given metal cutlery because terrorists, as we know, can't afford business class. Then I went through this wonderful experience and sort of really was sort of hating myself going oh God, I'm on the other side of it. Now I'm looking down on everyone else and then at the function in Zurich, someone pointed out to me that business class generates three times as much carbon. I'm sure you know this because of the weight you take up on the plane, the extra space and so on, it's three times worse. So I made a solemn commitment, starting as soon as I got home, that from now on, I will use it as a piece of climate communication and my policy now is when I'm offered business class, I say thank you, it's a very kind offer, but I declined business class on climate ethics grounds. It's an opportunity to have that conversation, to share that information with people, because flying is wonderful, business class is superb, but nothing feels as good, ryan, as walking through business class knowing that you were offered it but declined on climate ethics grounds, and it's a lovely celebratory moment in the show which I think I hope highlights my own hypocrisy, highlights all of our hypocrisies. But also there is a we're not going to save the world one recyclable cup at the time, but that's no reason not to do it. Using your actions as a means of communicating your intent is important, obviously, within that and there's another thing in the show about the fact that we'll all end up on trial for climate crimes 20, 30 years down the line, and I think that you know who knows, maybe that bit, maybe this interview, will be used as evidence against me. I think that we're always. We're always Try it. You know, as I said before, we are stuck in this fear of hypocrisy. We are inside a carbon economy. We're active inside a carbon economy. I feel that I've been invited to speak at a huge event in Phoenix, arizona. I really want to go. I think I could say useful stuff, I think I could help, but at what cost? And it's a thing that we all have to keep in the forefronts of our minds, because there are people who are like I work in the climate, so I never fly, and there are people like well, because I work in the climate, I'm allowed to fly, and we have to keep interrogating that I don't know the answer, but the answer is not to forget about it and stop thinking about it.

Ryan Grant Little:

Yeah, it comes down a lot to people whether people believe that individual actions matter a lot or systemic change matters a lot. And yeah, I have some use on that as well. It's complicated.

Stuart Goldsmith:

Tell me your view, tell me your views on that, because I love filing out from experts, and I tell me what do you think?

Ryan Grant Little:

I'm a systems person, so I don't expect people to change and do the right thing for the climate. So I think the onus is on us, that we have to, you know, we have to replace air travel with, you know, some kind of fuel or electric travel. It's gonna have to happen, right? Of course it's, you know. The question is if we were able to do this in time. I invest in alternative proteins, right, and my view is that our goal should be that your hamburger is not made from animals, but it tastes better, it's cheaper and it's just as accessible, and that's how we'll win right, absolutely.

Stuart Goldsmith:

That's what I do that with my own shopping. We no longer buy meat. We don't buy meat. We're not vegetarians. My wife sort of a vegetative, a flexitarian if you will, but I just don't buy meat anymore. I will have a burger if I'm out and it's a special occasion, but I don't buy meat because it's cheaper. I feel less under rare occasions it goes off and I have to throw it away. I don't feel so bad, I don't. It's less guilt. I'm a former vegetarian. I've said traces of guilt, but I'm mostly just doing it for the climate. I want to show the businesses that sell the whatever it is, whether it's precision, fermentation or wherever they get the stuff from who knows? I want to show the business. I'm a happy customer and I'm happy to buy this. Please keep making it. Because, as a vegetarian, I remember when not enough people bought the veggie frankfursers so the shop stopped selling them and I'm like, no, I needed those. So I totally agree. I think that because of my my misspent youth as a street performer, I Observe how crowds move and you know people who understand how crowds move. They know they move as a liquid. You know they do these tests. I'm sure I've seen a video somewhere. You may know more about the movement of crowds inside public space, and it's liquid. They put liquid and they put ink into the liquid and they go. That's where the people will go. That's flow. You can't ask the liquid to consider traveling in a different direction. You have to simply change the options so that it can only travel in a positive direction.

Ryan Grant Little:

It's going to be. For me, the three metrics again are its taste, price, accessibility, and then, way farther down, is health and Climate. You know, and I think that's how people actually make their purchasing decisions.

Stuart Goldsmith:

So does that mean, if you apply that to air travel, does that mean that you're going to continue to? I'm not done. You put you on the spot here, but I'm trying to make my own mind up. Will you continue to fly until such time as it is made legislatively or economically Impossible? What's the plan?

Ryan Grant Little:

Yeah, I continue to fly my family's 8,000 kilometers away from me and so I continue to fly to see family. When it's things like vacations or weekend away, I very much try to take the train, do that type of thing, but especially with family, there's no, I don't have an alternative and I want to keep seeing my family. So of course. But you know, and I fly economy. I'm flying premium economy over the holidays so I can still. I can maybe have kind of half of the yes, exactly the feeling.

Stuart Goldsmith:

We need to eat more healthily and, as a result, lose weight and then incur less of a fuel cost.

Ryan Grant Little:

Yeah, I'll be eating a vegan meal on a long-haul flight, so I don't know where that leaves me.

Stuart Goldsmith:

I do that. I'm on a flight. Recently, a little while last year, sometimes, I was on a flight and they came around with bottles of water and I hadn't brought my reusable bottle, but I declined the plastic bottle water and well, I thought, good for me. Pat on the back for stew, well done. Changing the system, yes, but you know that's you have to think in systems and you have to behave as a person.

Ryan Grant Little:

And yeah, I mean, I think you know going across on the Queen Elizabeth 2 is probably also not going to be better for the climate, then flying for sure. So you have 85,000 followers on Instagram. What does that feel like? Because that's not, you know, you're not Taylor Swift, but you're, you know, not the a casual user. Do people recognize you in the street?

Stuart Goldsmith:

Weirdly, that has started happening, not in the street. I'm still very niche. 85k is nothing. You get near to 50k life I could just break 50k and then you know, no 85k. I'm thinking really, 250k is really gonna make a difference. It's infinite and it's gamified. You know, as you know, social media is designed by scientists in labs to make us us as creators play the game of it. And who? The metrics are important, and of course they're not. I think that I know friends with far fewer followers, but the followers are in the right place and are interested in the right thing and they sell more tickets to show X than I might do I Also. I have had some things go viral when I was in the States recently. I was at South by Southwest early this year and I must confess I did not swim there, but I had four different videos going viral at the same time and the thing where you check new followers on Instagram went nuts. It was just bananas. I just. Every time I check it was like bing one second, one second. New follower, one second. That was very exciting. That doesn't last and you need to come to terms with that. You know, oh, it's going off and you can't help, but do the maths in your head. If this keeps up, I will be Taylor Swift by the end of the week. You know, what it means to me is that I think as the follower numbers go up, you have an increased chance of clinging onto the algorithm. I think of it like Dune, a sandworm goes past the algo and you have to hook onto it and cling on for dear life. You know, and I think that even the people who run the algorithm don't really understand how the algorithm works. It's like, I mean, it isn't artificial intelligence, but it may as well be. They've got this. I visualize a sort of shimmering, rotating ball of plasma. That's the algorithm and the people that have created it. All they can do is go well, it seems to like this, and I think if you have a lot of followers, you have more chance of grabbing on to the sandworm, as it was his past. So it does increase the possibilities for getting the word out. And also, I'm learning. I'm in my mid 40s, I'm not some 20 year old digital native and I frequently make clanging errors because I come from a world where the algorithm is like all the idea of people seeing stuff. I can use that to sell things, and as soon as you try and say, please buy a ticket, the algo goes no, no, no, we don't do that here, you know. So you need to just constantly be putting Content out into the world. I think that is comics that can feel dispiriting, because now we don't just simply write jokes and tell jokes, we also have to be producer, editor, directors you know what I mean uploaders, data analysts, all of that kind of stuff. But I am now at a quite a satisfying place where I feel like I have created with help as well I've got some brilliant help I've created a good workflow when by now, I'm always on the lookout for things that I can put up there, that I can frame in an interesting way that people will be excited about, and it's a great way of connecting with audiences.

Ryan Grant Little:

At the end of the day, and I'll put links to your various accounts in your website and the show notes. But for those who don't check the show notes, where's the best place for them to reach you?

Stuart Goldsmith:

I would say for your audience linked in really, if you're a LinkedIn user. Very few comedians seem to know about LinkedIn, so keep it to yourself. But for me it's like a social media where people sometimes give me really sort of sizable work. I can have conversations on LinkedIn which I can pursue and it turns into a zoom meeting and it turns into a relationship and then it turns into some remuneration for actually helping in doing something positive. So I'm really I'm trying now to learn how to do what we did with Instagram with LinkedIn. So that's where I would. You know people interested in climate, what have you can find me there, but also stewartgoalswithcom you will find all of those links and what have you there and I hope people get in touch. I'm I'm fascinated to talk to you and I hope you have time, when we stop recording, for me to grill you on a few things. Oh, if anyone wants to talk to me, if anyone listening to this things, oh, I could use a comedian in an interesting way, or he said something I totally disagree with. Please get in touch. I love meeting new people. I'm on a sort of constant odyssey of learning more about this and I mentioned before I have ADHD. I am not great at books, but I love talking and listening and shaping my understanding through conversations. So if anyone Passionately disagrees with me or thinks they can be useful to me or I can be useful to them, I would love them to get in touch.

Ryan Grant Little:

Okay, Stuart. Well, I might as well get this grilling over with. So let's stop on the record.

Stuart Goldsmith:

Thank you, we can have the real chat. Thanks extra content chat for the.

Ryan Grant Little:

The DVD extras. Yeah, thanks a lot, stuart. Thanks so much. Thanks for listening to another climate tech podcast. It would mean a lot if you would subscribe, rate and share this podcast. Get in touch anytime with tips and guest recommendations at Hello at climate tech pod Dot com. Find me, ryan Grant little, on LinkedIn. I'll be back with another episode next week. Bye for now.

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