Giving Thanks for the Chance to Help

November 18, 2023

Happy Almost Thanksgiving everyone!

Even in challenging times there is much to be grateful for. I don’t talk about gratitude per se in my training, but I do present appreciation as a self-care tool. I suggest getting in the habit of expressing it not just for others but for yourself. Pointing out something you appreciate about a person or something they did is free! And it helps people feel valued. Apparently, the need to support caregivers is in the zeitgeist. Just this week the NY Times featured an article entitled “Coping with Anger as a Family Caregiver”.

Something I personally appreciate is having the opportunity to bring what we do best to companies and healthcare providers around the country. The video above is in response to a training I led last week at Jewish Senior Life in Rochester, NY.

Lately, more and more people unfamiliar with our work are asking for specifics about how our programs are run. There is a method to our merry madness which I am happy to share!

In 2018, when the company launched, the concept was simple. Comedians working one on one with people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. For more details, you can read this article from The Washington Post. Within months, Executive Directors were seeing the positive effect that shared laughter was having on their residents. They asked me if I could run training so their staff could bring more levity to the culture. I taught Stand- up at UCLA for almost a decade and wrote a book called “Take My Spouse, Please,” about how to keep laughing in long-term marriage. Pulling from these sources I came up with a wonderful curriculum: It’s Okay to Laugh: 8 Tools for Self-Care and Creating Connection at All Stages of Cognitive Decline.

When COVID hit, we took our services virtual. We ran daily interactive laughter workshops Monday through Friday for half an hour. We called them Lunchtime Laughter. These were intended to bring relief to caregivers, but very soon perfectly lucid people were showing up to feel less isolated in a pandemic. From this, I developed interactive hour-long sessions for HR leaders who were in dire straits for ways to keep their people connected.

Emerging from COVID, we are back working regularly with senior communities running interactive Improv classes, memoir classes and caregiver training. We also continue to bring our “mental-health-through-laughter” approach to business for a range of events. These included but are in no way limited to: holiday parties (dates are still available), all-hands meetings, and nationwide conferences. We also teach high level courses in storytelling as a leadership tool and a Stand-up class for building confidence and bringing humor to your presentations. All of these are run virtually or in-person. We currently have a team of 30 comedians around the world country for our in-person events.

The group workshops follow a similar structure. After setting a date and time, we send you a questionnaire to learn as much as we can about your group and what your needs are. Perhaps you have new hires or a fully remote team that needs to connect, an international team that has never met, and/or a group that works together and needs to build trust. If it’s virtual we send you a zoom link. If in person, we show up!

At the top of any event we talk briefly about the value of laughter to support our mental and physical health. We kick off the interactivity with an active warm-up. Then, depending on what we have customized based on your desired outcome, we run a series of Improv based games. We begin with an ice breaker to ease people into what could be a little scary. We establish right away that we are a laughing with company, not a laughing at company. Although we love to laugh, we only want to achieve this with affiliative humor - the kind that makes you feel good. We are the Ted Lasso of comedy companies.

And then the games begin! They are all interactive and chosen to focus on some of the following: team-building, active listening, innovation, confidence building, storytelling, flexibility and more. The intended outcome of our structured interaction is human connection and better communication. In the course of our time together, people will learn about each other. They may find out who else is a mother, who left their hometown, or who loves granola more than her children. Just me? They discover shared interests, shared taste in music or movies, and of course, shared laughter.

When people laugh together, trust is created. After a session with us, team members are that much more likely to reach out to each other. To practice the new communication skills we introduce, we often set up multiple engagements as follow-up. We call these “Laughter Gyms,” and can be held either virtually or in-person.

If you would like more details, or have a specific challenge you’d like to brainstorm with us, we are a phone call away. After all, it’s in our name!