Lizz Winstead, founder of Lady Parts Justice League (LPJL) and co-creator of The Daily Show, has once again taken to the road alongside a a group of comedians and musicians for the second Vagical Mystery Tour (VMT), which will stop in eight cities facing attacks on abortion access and clinics with the intent to foster discussion and activism through comedy, musical performances, informal conversations with activists and providers and voter mobilization efforts.
The tour, which bridges the gap between consciousness-raising and community-building, was launched last summer to amplify and expand on the impact of local activism in cities hostile towards women’s reproductive rights. Each show spotlights local activism as well as local attacks on abortion access, and selected partner clinics have the opportunity to build more relationships with activists who want to support their staff. As nationwide threats to abortion increase, the work LPJL is doing on the VMT has only become more pivotal.
“It’s super hard when you’re a grass roots organizer, and you’re trying to make change,” Winstead said to Ms. “You send out that email and maybe 10 to 20 people come to your meet up. We thought, ‘geez, we do comedy shows and bring hundreds of people together—why don’t we help gather the people, and then they’re really awesome about selling the work.'”
The comedy is an important part of the equation—because it helps bond people and allows hypocrisy to be exposed in a way that can be easily grasped. “There is a power in gathering folks for a really fun evening,” Winstead said. ” If you are laughing, you still have hope.”
When not under the limelight, VMT performers will take to local clinics to provide both moral and logistical support to clinic workers. LPJL helped refresh and encourage the staff at The Allentown Women’s Center, the partner clinic for the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania show that kicked off their second tour. “It was exactly what we needed,” Tristina Fitzpatrick, director of patient services, told Ms.”I think sometimes we get so lost in the day-to-day that we don’t think any one is paying attention to us. I just can’t thank LPJL and Lizz Winstead enough. She really came in and loved on everyone of the staff members.”
For Winstead, being able to provide a safe space for clinic workers to relax in is one of the most rewarding parts of the tour. “It is so meaningful to just hang out with them, break bread with them, have a drink or just hear their stories,” she told Ms. “It’s really great to just meet them and have them attend a comedy show where audiences give a standing ovation for their work. They never get to hear and see hundreds of people in their community appreciating them.”