They May Be Funny, But Al Franken And David Letterman's New Web Series Is No Joke

The pair is talking climate change for Funny or Die.

Sen. Al Franken and David Letterman are teaming up to tackle climate change.

Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota and former Saturday Night Live cast member, has a new six-part web series on Funny or Die called Boiling the Frog, created with the team behind the National Geographic documentary series Years of Living Dangerously. Five of the episodes feature Franken discussing the issue of climate change with former talk show host Letterman

While both men crack plenty of jokes, the subject matter of the videos is certainly "no joke" — to borrow a phrase Franken recalls countless newspapers using to describe his Senate win. The series' title comes from the parable, often used to describe climate change inaction, that a frog put into boiling water will jump out, but a frog put into cold water that is gradually brought to a boil will remain there and die.


And that's not the only analogy in Franken's series. In the opening episode, the senator asks his viewers to imagine that they visit 32 doctors who tell them to stop smoking and exercise, but they only choose to believe the 33rd doctor, who tells them they're fine yet is being paid by the potato chip industry.

"My point is, 97 percent of climate scientists agree climate change is real," Franken says. "What you and I need to do is prove that we're organized enough, and persistent enough, and passionate enough to force Washington to act."

As the senator explains to Letterman in the second episode, "the other 3 percent [of climate scientists], a number of them work for fossil fuel companies, and anyone who's saying this ain't real is talking through his butt."

"I'm very frustrated, because at my age — and I have a young son — I would like to have something tangible to at least think about that offsets all of the pessimism that is built up in me on the topic of climate change," Letterman, who traveled to India for Years of Living Dangerously, says of his reasons for talking to Franken.

He asks the senator what he and others can do to make a difference on the issue, besides driving an electric car. Franken's answer is a common one, but which he says can really bring about change: call your senators and representatives. "We really take it seriously — where the calls are coming from and what they are."

The series couldn't come at a more important time, as President Donald Trump announced last month that he plans to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. The videos have been well received, with The Daily Beast even suggesting that perhaps Letterman should "get into politics and be the next Al Franken."

A great example of the series' balance of important issues with comedy comes in episode 4, when Franken shows Letterman a photo of one of his three grandchildren. "I don't want them, in 50 years, saying, 'Grandpa, you knew about climate change. You were a United States senator. Why didn't you do anything? And also, why are you still alive?' Because I would be 116."

You can watch all six episodes of Boiling the Frog now on the Funny or Die website.

(H/T: USA Today)


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