I Want a Better Catastrophe: A Night of Stand-up Tragedy

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Arts + Literature Laboratory 111 S. Livingston Street, Suite 100
@ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

This event was presented in collaboration with the Arts + Literature LaboratoryCOWS, the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and the Office of Sustainability at UW-Madison.

A night of “stand-up tragedy”, Andrew Boyd invites us to come together and — aided by gallows humor and some unusual prompts — reflect on some of the biggest questions that face humanity, through an interactive, multimedia reading from his new book, I Want a Better Catastrophe. In it, he engages eight leading climate thinkers on a key question: “Is this really the end of the world? and if so, now what?” Boyd steers readers through their climate angst as he walks his own. From storm-battered coastlines to pipeline blockades and “hopelessness workshops,” he maps out our existential options, and tackles familiar dilemmas: “Should I bring kids into such a world?” “Can I lose hope when others can’t afford to?” and “Why the fuck am I recycling?” He finds answers that will surprise, inspire, and maybe even make you laugh. Drawing on wisdom traditions Eastern, Western, and Indigenous, Boyd crafts an insightful and irreverent guide for achieving a “better catastrophe.”

A man looks off to his right into the distance. His short gray hair is brushed back from his face. He wears a blue waterproof down jacket over a gray hoodie, dark blue button-down shirt, and black t-shirt. In the background, a red brick wall can be seen.

Andrew Boyd is an author, humorist, and climate activist. His new book, I Want a Better Catastrophe: Navigating the Climate Crisis with Grief, Hope and Gallows Humor is forthcoming from New Society Press in February 2023. He is currently CEO (Chief Existential Officer) of the Climate Clock, a global campaign he co-founded that melds art, science, technology, and grassroots organizing to get the world to #ActInTime. Boyd also co-created the grief-storytelling ritual the Climate Ribbon and led the 2000s-era satirical campaign “Billionaires for Bush.” His previous books include Beautiful Trouble (OR Books, 2012); Daily Afflictions (WW Norton, 2002), and Life’s Little Deconstruction Book (WW Norton, 1998). Unable to come up with his own lifelong ambition, he’s been cribbing from Milan Kundera: “to unite the utmost seriousness of question with the utmost lightness of form.”