Get Off Your High Horse!

Written by Iliza Shlesinger

Photo by Emily Higgins Used with permission of The Laugh Factory.

Photo by Emily Higgins
Used with permission of The Laugh Factory.

To the people finding fault with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge because of wasting water,

I don’t have ALS, I don’t have it my family or know anyone who has it. But ALS, a disease that effects only 30,000 people, came up with an amazing marketing tool to reach out and get people’s attention. We’d all heard of Lou Gehrig’s disease but not many of us, not connected to the cause, could tell you what it was. I certainly couldn’t. A cause needs attention. This applies to anything you as an individual try to inform other people about, whether it be your Kickstarter for a film, a missing child, a social movement- these are all causes and to change people’s perceptions and find solutions, you first need their attention. “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears…” even Mark Anthony knew he needed people’s attention before he could change their minds.

Like it or not, that’s the way the world works. Attention makes things popular, for better or for worse. For AIDS research or for Kardashian.

I love anything that brings awareness, brings people together for a cause and raises money. When you have a disease that isn’t as popular as cancer or AIDS, you have to fight for your moment in the spotlight.

I’ve seen it first hand with my cousin who has Cystic Fibrosis – what’s that? You don’t know what CF is? That’s because not enough people have it for the population, as a whole, to be aware. I’ve seen her battle and our family’s battle to not just raise money but bring awareness.

Why is awareness so important for smaller diseases? Because when there’s a donation box, or an option at a check out counter to donate, or a charity event, you want to know that your money is going to (or at least some of it, that’s a whole other issue) something you know about and feel connected to. It’s simple human nature that you’re most likely to donate to a cause that’s touched you in some way vs one you have zero connection to. If this weren’t true then no one would advertise to “feed the children” in a country you’ve never heard of because we’d all already be doing it.

First comes awareness, then comes money – this Ice Bucket Challenge managed to do both in one gigantic swoop.

Now, actions do speak louder than words and, in this case, money speaks louder than actions- so just because you don’t wanna dump a bucket of ice cold water on your head in the middle of a work day, doesn’t mean you’re a dick. It’s also okay if you didn’t donate. At a basic level, you now know a bit more about ALS- so the next time someone asks you for money, it will trigger a memory about the ice bucket challenge and the disease will be just a little more familiar to you. Maybe next time you’ll donate. Or you won’t. Maybe you’re up to your ears in donating and you’re tapped out. THAT’S OKAY TOO!!

What isn’t okay is people getting on their high horses and acting like there are levels of integrity when it comes to giving. It would be one thing if it was raising awareness about ALS and people were taking the “club a baby seal challenge” but it was a bucket of water. Could have been a bucket of air and people would have been upset that we were using plastic to make the buckets. Could have been a bucket of “thoughts” and people would be upset that we were wasting time thinking and not out doing.

I truly believe that most people are good and the internet, at times, serves as a cyber colander that sifts out all the good thoughts and brings to light all the shit heads out there who love nothing more than to find fault with anything that brings people a sliver of joy. “You’re wasting water! We’re in a drought – YES. We in California are in a drought. And unfortunately a drought, as a cause, isn’t as sexy as the ice bucket challenge. I’m not saying it’s okay to fuck over the environment. We as humans are not more important than the earth we live on, BUT to mar the intentions of people just trying to help, to wish ALS on someone who was just participating, to call out publicly or get on a high horse about not wasting water- get OVER yourselves. Ugh, who canonized you the patron saint of Holier Than Thou?

The amount of water used in these videos is negligible, folks. And let’s not forget the videos posted by people who are living in states where there isn’t a drought, people using lake water, ocean water, pool water, non potable water. Let’s also not forget that many people ARE doing their part, not using major appliances till after 6, not using sprinklers, not taking long showers. So, unless you were filling up your bathtub every day and running your faucets just for the fun sound it makes, I don’t think you dumping a bucket of water is what’s gonna bring our irrigation system to it’s knees. Hey mention that there’s a drought, that’s fine- but don’t be a dick about it. Get off your high horse, he’s tired from carrying you and he’s gonna get thirsty and drink UP ALL THE WATER!

And look at that, the Ice Bucket Challenge might have just brought a little awareness to our drought, well well well- something positive coming from something seemingly negative, it’s amazing what we accomplish when we try.

“There are kids in Africa who have no water”- To constantly compare the merit of your actions against the lowest point of another’s unfortunate situation is unproductive. You may as well never drive a car, never leave the house, never try at anything because there is always someone who is worse off than you. We live in a first world country, we pay the price of that with our taxes, loss of loved ones to foreign wars, global obligations, local pollution, social unrest etc- and with living here come a few perks, like clean water.

To not live your life because others have less fortunate situations is neurotic. If I pull a muscle, can I not complain my leg hurts because some people with ALS can’t even use their legs? No, it’s insane.

Truth is folks, if you don’t donate to the cause, eventually, then all the awareness in the world won’t help. This is my issue with “Movember“- guys, it’s not about growing a mustache, you do that on your own anyway- no one’s impressed. It’s about raising awareness and money for prostate cancer. I had a boyfriend who just grew one and didn’t donate, I don’t think he understood the reason fully, he just wanted to be part of something- not fully grasping that, without donating, he was just a dude with a mustache. He wasn’t the brightest. But he was pretty.

If you made anyone feel bad about not participating, if you made a big stink about the drought, if you said anything mean to anyone during what should have been a positive experience, then you’re just negative. And, speaking as someone who is EXTREMELY negative, it must have taken you being a special kind of horrible for me to look down on you.

From my pedestal, not my high horse. I don’t like horses.






“Absolutely brilliant, Iliza. My first thought is these guys are just jumping on another cause’s bandwagon…You wanna save water? Go after the home swimming pool purchasers and water parks. Get your own Goddamned band wagon you pathetic leech. You could find something wasteful in anything…

That’s almost like someone going after the signers of the Declaration of Independence for using a bird’s quill for a pen to write it.

How about the pigs who had to die for diabetes medicine?

Oh, spare me your shallow protestations.”

Then my response was:

“Pigs die? “


 Native Texan, Iliza Shlesinger is a national touring headliner who is the first and only woman to win NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Her special “War Paint” reached number One on the iTunes Charts and is currently available on Netflix. When not on the road she and her dog daughter Blanche unite people with hatred through her podcast “Truth & Iliza” produced by the world famous Laugh Factory.

Now Available on iTunes and Wherever Fine Podcasts are found!

Originally Posted on Iliza’s Facebook August 23rd, 2014.

Reposted with permission and special arrangement with Iliza Shlesinger.

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