Yes, And… Laughter Lab is now open for business.

A partnership of non-profit Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI), creative agency Moore+Associates, and Comedy Central, it’s designed to promote collaboration between comedians and social justice activists.

Yes, And… Laughter Lab will select five original comedy projects, inviting them to pitch their ideas on June 11, 2019, at New York City’s Caveat. All five finalists will receive stipends and funds to travel for their pitch. You can apply through June 5 via yesandlaughterlab.com.

“We developed this initiative because we believe that comedy can help change the world,” said Caty Borum Chattoo, Director of CMSI, based at American University’s School of Communication. “Comedy points out the absurdity of bigotry and makes hard truths easier to hear. Comedy exposes hypocrisy, challenges the status quo and stigmatizes bad behavior while opening our eyes to other perspectives and experiences. Comedy serves as a form of catharsis and social critique; it opens the door to talking about taboo experiences; it normalizes groups and individuals too often portrayed as ‘the other.’”

CMSI already has The Laughter Effect initiative which includes as its comedian in residence, The Chris Gethard Show‘s Bethany Hall.

“Our agency has worked with dozens of comedians over the past eight years to help them use comedy to make people think differently about the most critical issues of our time, from climate change to immigration, from voting rights to gun safety,” said Mik Moore, Founder and Principal of Moore+Associates. “We created Yes And… Laughter Lab for the hundreds of other comedians out there with inspired ideas in need of some guidance and support.”

Applications will be evaluated by a selection committee that includes Abbi Jacobson, Sabrina Jalees, Jeffrey P. Jones from The Peabody Awards, Aasif Mandvi, Franchesca Ramsey, and Roy Wood Jr.

The lab also will work on campaign concepts for non-profit Define American, and the lab receives additional support from the philanthropic fund Pop Culture Collaborative as well as Comedy Central.

“We agree that comedy has and can continue to be a driving force to change the world in positive ways,” said Erika Soto Lamb, Comedy Central’s Vice President of Social Impact Strategy. “And what better way to keep evolving the culture of comedy from commentary and critique to action than throwing a bunch of hilarious people and activists — not mutually exclusive, of course — in a room together? We are proud to support this project and can’t wait to see what comes out of this seminal and meaningful effort to use comedy to create social change.”