In the fall of 2012, the Yale College Dean’s office approached me because they wanted to create their own video-based alcohol education curriculum. It would be sent to incoming freshmen with the goal of shaping their attitudes about alcohol and drinking before they even arrive on campus. They wanted peer-to-peer education, so the videos had to be created by students. But they also knew that they needed a professional to structure and guide the project.
Our audience was raised on a diet of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert; I knew immediately that humor was the best way for our message to have traction. The first step of the process was finding the funny people.
Throughout the winter and spring of 2013, I met once a week with a group of five smart, funny, insightful Yale undergrad writer/actors – essentially creating a writers’ room to generate the scripts for these videos. Initially we researched and talked about how problem drinking happens on campuses. In conversation with the Dean’s Office, we honed what topics we needed to address. As a creative team, we explored how we could get our message across with wit and insight. We met and batted ideas around; they went home and wrote; we met and gave feedback; they went home and rewrote.
We shot the videos at the end of the spring – a crazy few days of creating party scenes on a nearly-deserted campus in empty dorm rooms. In mid-summer, the videos went out to incoming freshmen. When school started in September, our actor/writers found they were local celebrities on campus. Sober Buddy (our alcohol combating super-hero) was sought after for selfies and inspired several Halloween costumes. While the evidence about impact is anecdotal, it’s also really heartening; medical emergencies due to alcohol went down significantly in both number and severity.
For more information about the Yale Alcohol Education Program, visit
I have also worked with the Yale College Dean’s Office to create informational videos about the Sexual Misconduct Grievance Procedures. These videos can be seen at