Creating spaces of freedom

'Laughing is healthy,' Els van der Plas, director of the Prince Claus Fund, smiles when asked what she thinks is the importance of humour and satire in a society. 'Humour makes difficult topics or difficult situations less heavy. A joke puts things in a different perspective, a satirical film lightens matters. But at the same time, a joke can speak a million words. Topics that would otherwise never be discussed can be talked about.'


The theme for the Prince Claus Awards this year is humour and satire. So there is a good chance that a stand-up comedian, clown or cartoonist will receive the prestigious award.

'Humour and satire' did not simply materialise for the PCF. It is in keeping with the theme 'Creating spaces of freedom': one of the five themes that are the premise of the PCF's activities. Van der Plas: 'Cartoonists or comedians can use their tone to touch on topics that are shadowy. Humour can be used to address topics that would otherwise never be heard. It's really unheard of, but it makes you laugh, so it's acceptable. Taboos can be broken.'

'Comedians are the traditional court jesters, the only ones allowed to make fun of the king. No one sends the jester away. Humour can be used to make room, to create a space of freedom. From that space, others can adopt the topic.'

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