Publication Date

Spring 4-26-2017

Document Type

Capstone project: Open access

Degree Name

MA Leadership Studies


Leadership Studies


United States polarization has shifted from simple Congressional stalemate to a state of political warfare. While there is debate in the literature as to whether this attitude polarization is mirrored among the general public, the research is clear that American perceptions of their political opposition is marked by fear and animosity (Pew Research Center, 2016). The Impolitic program aims to intervene in this cycle using comedy to reduce anxiety and encourage participation, and dialogue to build understanding and shift relationships among politically divergent participants. This paper details the system of polarization in which Impolitic seeks to intervene, the guiding leadership philosophy that informs this work, and the results of the September 2016 pilot event. Impolitic events consist of an improvised comedy show based around political storytelling coupled with facilitated dialogue among audience participants. The goal of the program is to model a third-way for political conversations (beyond debate or discussion) and invite participants to bring this mode of engagement into conversations with individuals with whom they are close, but ‘don’t bother talking about politics’ due to disagreement.