Laugh Quest

Few doubt the health benefits of laughter, but where do you find something to laugh about? Answer: It’s everywhere. Some humor takes little or no effort. All the signs on signspotting, required no more work that an eye for the absurd, and a camera.

On the other hand some work very hard to create humor. A great example of hours of work to create a few seconds of absolute hilarity is this clip you can find on You Tube: I can’t get enough of it.

In my keynote, “Rx For Stress: Laughter + Control” I point out that my humor antennae are so sharp that I even managed to get a laugh while lying on  my urologist’s examination table. As I lay there I noticed a rack of pamphlets:

I began laughing and when the nurse came back in she asked what was so funny. I pointed to the rack and said: “Why are those people smiling?” She joined my laughter and said, “Those aren’t patients, those are the doctors.”

If you take a minute to study the individual pamphlets closely you may find another chuckle. For example, does the woman with “Frequent Bladder Urges” look entirely comfortable? And why does the “Erectile Disfunction” dude have his hand in his lap?

Laughter is everywhere, you just have to be looking for it. And if you happen to choose a training session with Laugh2Learn, you will find it chock full of good healthy laughter, as well as learning. If not, or if you are not completely satisfied, you owe me nothing.

What have you got to lose?


What is “community” and how do we achieve it?

“A community is best defined as a group of people who, regardless of the diversity of their backgrounds, have been able to accept and transcend their differences, enabling them to communicate effectively and openly and to work together toward goals identified as being for their common good.”

I discovered that definition while working with The University of Kansas Medical Center to help develop a sense of community among students in the Master of Public Health program.

I like that definition. I have often commented that the role of community theatre is to knit diverse elements of a city together. At Topeka Civic Theatre and Academy,, where I first learned improv (Thanks Shannon) I have often commented that the theatre contributes to the community by bringing diverse people together for a common purpose. It is not unusual to find an attorney in a minor role, a food service professional in the lead, and a business leader building sets.

Organizations, whatever their purpose need a sense of community. It you think about it, any team is made up of diverse individuals. It has to be. Numerous diverse skills are needed for an organization to function. But if it is to function at its highest level, it must have a sense of community; the individuals must be able “to accept and transcend their differences.”

Improv training is a wonderful way to do that:

  • First we laugh together. The more we laugh together the safer we feel with each other. It is very hard to bear a grudge after you share a laugh. (Hey I just made that up! You can quote me.)
  • Next, in that same spirit of laughter, we begin to work together toward common goals. It’s good practice that will translate back into the work place.
  • We make discoveries about each other, learn new things and discover new commonalities. We are all much more alike than we are different, and there are several improv exercises that help us discover how very much we have in common.
  • And through it all we have fun!

How often do employees come back to work from a required training session with a smile on their faces? After a session of community building through improv they will. And, if Laugh2learn provides the service, and you are not completely satisfied, you won’t have to pay me!

 What do you have to lose?


The oldest type of humor: Fart humor

I just returned from the Applied Improvisation Network’s Conference in Baltimore, and I learned so much and had such a good time.While the conference was exciting and educational one of the highlights of the trip was our VIP tour of the American Visual Arts Museum.

Oustide AVAM

Since “laugh” is a part of my name, I was especially interested in the current exhibit which will run through October entitled “What Makes Us Smile?” It may make some smile but it made me laugh out loud more than once.

Among the things I found rewarding was learning that throughout history one of the best sources of humor has been the fart. In fact, the earliest known humourous publications dating from the 12th century include fart humor. I use a fart story as an introduction to most of my presentaions. Because I believe that self depcratory humor is a great way to begin any presentation I like to tell the story of my first granddaughter. For her parents her arrival was one of the great events of human history. They posted her sonogram on the web. (Common now but not so common 12 years ago.) Even before she was born, they needed to know what we grandparents wanted to be called. It would be a shame if she emerged from the womb and used the wrong name for a grandparent. My wife choose “Grandma,” and my daughter-in-law’s mother selected “Granny.” I selected “The Grandfather.” I suppose I may have been joking, but when my son scoffed, I dug in my heels. “I shall be known as ‘The Grandfather.” I said.

Well, the child didn’t actually begin talking for a few weeks, and when she did begin, like most new speakers her diction wasn’t that hot, and I became known as THE GRANDFARTER! When participants in my training want to know if I want to be addressed as “Dr. Stottlemire” I tell them they may call me what the family does. It is quite rewarding when someone raises their hand to ask a question and prefaces it with, “Grandfarter, could you explain what you mean….”

Free Free Free

Several years ago, using improvisation games, I developed and presented a day long teacher in service to Lawrence Gardner High School teachers. (They had some grant funds.) Since that time I have been wanting to expand my training to include teacher in service, especially since some of my teacher friends tell me that in service training is not always that much fun!

However, just when I was ready to begin marketing to school districts, I read that the Kansas legislature had slashed funding to public education. It doesn’t seem likely that school districts are going to have a lot of ready cash, and will probably be relying on their own staffs to provide in service. Then I had an inspiration:

  • I’m retired (Well sort of);
  • Retired people stay active by volunteering;
  • School districts need quality in service training;
  • I provide quality in service training (The evaluations from Lawrence Gardner were very positive.);
  • I’ll do it for free, as a public service.

So if you are a teacher, principal, or school administrator who wants to provide an in service that will increase staff poise and confidence, provide new and unique teaching techniques, while actually being enjoyable, give me a call. If you are in the Topeka area there will be no cost. If you are not, I will ask for travel expenses.



Invisible People

One of my favorite movies is Dirty Pretty Things. In it, Chiwetel Ejiofor, playing a hotel desk clerk responds to the question, “Who are you people?” with: “We are the invisible people. We drive your taxis, we wash your clothes, we clean your rooms, but you don’t see us.” The same week I saw that movie, I heard a story on NPR about a group of undergraduate students at a major California university who were teaching the housekeeping staff English. One of the staff commented, “We are invisible on this campus.”

Since that time, I have tried hard to have no invisible people in my life. Many of the invisible people have name tags on. When they do, I speak to them by name. The reactions are almost always positive. When they don’t have a nametag, or when I’m speaking to them on the phone, I ask them their name. The results are the same.