What is it?
With World Toilet Day coming up on 19 November, WaterAid is asking people to vote for their favourite toilet jokes. The poet John Cooper Clarke and the comedians Lucy Porter and Helen Lederer are among the celebrities to have submitted videos of themselves telling their best one-liners, on which people can vote. An online leader board shows the current top five, with the winner to be announced on the day itself.
Why are they doing it?
The UN created World Toilet Day in 2013 to raise awareness of the importance of sanitation. The aim of the charity’s own campaign, called It’s No Joke, is to use humour to get people talking about toilets, which are a serious issue for the 2.5 billion people around the world who don’t have access to a safe, private one.
The charity says people who are forced to go to the toilet in the open are often exposed to disease, harrasment and attack, a topic that has been covered in the press because of recent high-profile incidents. According to WaterAid's website, about 2,000 children die each day from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, but last year the charity was able to reach more than 200 people with sanitation every hour.
The charity has posted a video on Facebook to promote the campaign and is using the hashtag #ItsNoJoke on Twitter, where many of the comedians involved are also encouraging their followers to get involved. Continuing the toilet theme offline, a number of comedy events are being held in disused public toilets around London, which is where funds will be raised for the charity.
Third Sector verdict
The tongue-in-cheek way the campaign is presented – encourging people to "wet themselves laughing" and telling them "urine for a treat" – manages to make this unglamorous but important cause accessible to the public, which is a significant achievement. Getting alternative comedians on board rather than encouraging more mainstream celebrities to make heartfelt, emotional appeals, continues this approach and has clearly paid off in terms of engagement on social media.
It's a simple campaign, but one that gets to grips with a tough issue with humour and will help to start conversations on a topic that would not otherwise be discussed.