Singer/songwriter Andrew Cole wanted to engage with some better-known musicians to record “Joke,” a song that would deal with bullying among children in all school levels. As Blabbermouth.net notes, it was to be based on some traumatic experiences he had as a school kid.
Cole started contacting artists, but in preparing the song he traveled across North America and the UK, talking with various authors and academics “who have spent their life thinking about the issue of violence in the schoolyard, and how to address it.” Also, since he is not exactly a household name, Cole teamed up with “paparazzi in Hollywood and runs every hustle he can think of to get to all the stars he needs to make his dream of the song a reality.”
Working on the project, Cole realized that not only has it become very personal, but that the problem is much more complex than could be fit in just one song, so he went on to make a documentary about the problem.
His efforts and research have paid off, as #NoJoke became a documentary produced by Peabody Award winner and three-time Canadian Screen Award nominee Jason Loftus. The documentary that is set for official release on October 22, 2019, features among others: Slash (GUNS N’ ROSES), Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy (MOTÖRHEAD), Jeff Goldblum, Sam Roberts, Robbie Krieger, Steve Vai, Chad Smith (RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS), Lights, Patrick Stewart, and Jane Lynch, who chip in with their music and personal experiences.
As producer Loftus said, “We have great respect for the artists who contributed to make this possible,” since ”frankly, at the outset, no one knew who Andrew was and there was really no reason for them to do so. We’re thankful that so many of them cared. Some were affected by bullying — as victims or as bullies themselves — and wanted people to know they’re not alone. We also believe this film adds something important to the discussion about bullying. Bullying hurts, but what can we do about it?”