Level II - Project Descriptions




Humor Academy Directors:       Mary Kay Morrison

Study Group Advisors:               Cheri Campbell and Jill Knox

Academic Instructors:                 Joyce Saltman and Lee Berk


Here is a brief description of the Level II Projects for the Humor Academy this year. Level II of the Humor Academy involves both research and application of humor practice in an individual’s chosen field of study.



Interpersonal & Organizational Uses of Humor

- Cheri Campbell


Objective: To create a framework for an online course offering for the AATH Humor Academy. It has been proposed that AATH/HA will make additional learning opportunities in Humor Studies available to our membership and/or the general public.  This course design is focused on providing students with an overview of the literature of interpersonal/organizational uses of humor.


Rationale: Research studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that humor uses in our interpersonal and professional relationships can advantage the humor user and create a prosaically productive environment.  This course includes an overview of these findings and encourages participant's discussion of and creative application of these concepts.



Creating a Humorous, Harmonious Organizational Collaboration - AATH and the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy

- Lenny Dave


With the deft skill of a left-handed surgeon... and the dumb luck of a fortuitous schmuck, AATH Past President Lenny Dave literally stumbled into a golden opportunity for two complementary organizations (both in their own way, devoted to Healthy Humor) to strategically align in a mutually beneficial relationship.  The results thus far have been exciting - the future is even more promising.


Beginning in October 2011, AATH and the "Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy" have gotten to know each other quite well, one 'date' at a time.  Over the course of the next 18 months, the two organizations proceeded step-by-step to build a deeper relationship that has now resulted in AATH's decision to host the 2014 Annual Conference within the walls of their new museum on a college campus.


Creative Concocting

- Sol Hitzig


Sol Hitzig's business "Creative Concocting" is an interactive program consisting of three 75-minute presentations that put together unusual and unique food combinations.  The goal is the preparation of culinary offerings that are delicious, nutritious, and expeditious.  This is done in a relaxed, informal setting for senior citizens.  By understanding the humor research on seniors, Sol makes sure that humor is demonstrated and encouraged in his classes.



Hospital Humor Therapy "not Just for Kids or Patients": The Effect of Therapeutic Humor/The Caring Clown on Hospital Staff

- Kathy Keaton


I have been a clown for 35 years and have visited hospitals as a volunteer since the very beginning. The patients, myself and staff all saw results from my regular visits but the explanation of how and why the addition of light hearted humor/the caring clown could change the attitude and atmosphere in the hospital was a mystery.


In 2000, I joined AATH to gain a better understand the true benefits of laughter and humor on our health and well-being.  AATH provided me the information and confidence I needed.  In 2003 after sharing the idea of a Humor Therapy Program with the Marketing Department of my local hospital, I was invited to make a proposal to begin a Humor Program.  I was offered a two-month trial program and was then hired as their "Humor Therapist/Therapeutic Clown."  This year we are celebrating our 10th year.


My program is different than most because I clown for the general hospital population, not just children.  I am a solo clown and not a part of a group of hospital clowns.  In Paul McGhee's book, Humor- The lighter Path to Resilience and Health, he refers to the Humor in hospital movement as "the slow building revolution in health care as more hospitals become convinced of the therapeutic value of humor."  One of the reasons he states, is that hospitals are more competitive and have turned towards the area of therapeutic humor as a way to boost patient satisfaction.


For the past decade, I have been proud to be a part of this growing movement as a working in a general hospital.  Even though the hospitals' bottom line may be to gain the competitive edge and increase in patient satisfaction, I quickly observed that my opportunity was not only to provide light-hearted humor for the patient but also to reach out to caregivers, family members and staff. I view it as a "layering of humor". 


My passion is to educate, sharing what I have learned about the true health benefits of laughter.  In 2008, "Humor Therapy/The Caring Clown" was added by our education department within the new charge nurse orientation.  During orientation, I am able to educate the nurses about the program, its health benefits and how they can personally benefit, as well as assist patients in the area of light-hearted humor. We have two colleges of nursing who train in our facility so I am pleased to be able to work with them, too.


My project is to now focus on the hospital staff - Information for this project was gathered through personal interviews with staff members to gather their perception and observations of how the Program affects their attitude and mood, as well as that of the patient and the general atmosphere surrounding healing.



Planting Seeds of Peace Through Humor: Creating Peace-Able Youth

- Jill Knox


It has become increasingly more important that the youth of today recognize appropriate humor and shared laughter as integral seeds to be planted on the pathways to peace.  Through this program the participants will develop an understanding and an increased awareness of the use of humor as it pertains to cultivating peace in daily living, among friends, within the community, and in the world.


Humor, laughter, and play can be a conduit that creates a cultural understanding and breaks through barriers that create prejudice and intolerance.


The "Planting Seeds" program is designed to be adapted to various age levels.  It will include verbal, written, visual, and musical components, as well as role-playing experiences.  The participants will explore various types of humor and discover their individual humor style.  They will be able to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate humor.  When the program is completed the youth will be empowered as Peace Ambassadors and plant seeds of peace in their lives and others through humor, thereby cultivating a more peaceful world.



Let's Laugh Project

- Bronwyn Roberts


Does basic health and well-being have to be so difficult and so serious?  Many speakers that present health and well-being topics at community groups tend to focus on the medical aspect of health, usually emphasizing negative health issues and how best to deal with or live with them which has its place, but group members are happy to share that very few are engaging or fun to listen to!


Based on the theory that we learn better when we're having fun, I developed the 'Let's Laugh' program.  Beginning by sharing simple tools  for having more smiles and laughter in our lives, I introduce the clinically proven benefits of smiling and laughter and then invite discussion on why we should smile more and have more laughter in our lives.  The 'Let's Laugh' program touches on health issues relevant to the group and uses simple and fun exercises to introduce strategies for reducing stress and increasing what we laughingly call 'smile-atude'.  If time permits we also discuss the idea of RUOK?  Asking others Are You OK?- without judgment - and 'It's OK TO SAY!' encouraging people to answer the question RUOK with honesty and accept the honest answer from others without judgment in an effort to reduce the 'faking fine' effect.


The 'Let's Laugh' program is presented in a fun, discussion and laughter filled - fully interactive presentation that is suitable for everyone of every ability and age.  First presented in May 2011 at just 4 community groups the "Let's Laugh' project will, by March 30, 2013, have reached 121 separate community groups and been shared with over 6,000 people in 3 Australian states, around 4,000 of those being aged 65 and over.  The program relies on recommendations from those who have attended a "let's Laugh' session as its only marketing tool.  To remind participants of the program, over 20,000 smiley badges and 5,000 smiley stickers have been shared for placement on lanyards, nametags and to be shared with family and friends.  As a result of the initial roll out of the program, it is now reaching an Australia wide audience through community conferences and retreats.  The program is delivered to community groups on either a voluntarily or 'at cost' basis.  It is also being picked up by a number of corporate organizations where it is presented on a 'fee for service' basis.



Can Professional Education and Community Presentations promote Humor Habits for Health?

- Diane Roosth, MSW, LCSW, BCD, CLL-E, Rigologist 1, CLYL


Research suggests that stress is a major cause of disease and dis-ease.  Social workers as a profession benefit from tools that teach coping with stress.  How does a social worker in a health care setting promote laughter habits for stress management and health?  This project explores how education can provide a basis for teaching health care and educational professionals, patients, and people in the community about the benefits of developing humor routines for happiness, health, and spiritual wellness.


Handouts were developed for professional and patient information.  Education was provided to nursing physician, social work, and patient groups at my hospital facility, culminating in a Laughter Workout booth at a Regional Wellness Festival in September 2012 in Anaheim.  Community presentations included: Guest lecturer at a graduate course in education at a local university; a presentation at a Jewish Women's Weekend Retreat; a workshop presentation at a Regional Jewish Learning Weekend; and a presentation for professional Continuing Education Units at a California State Social Workers' Conference in October 2012.


This Social Worker in a Hospital based Health Care Setting provided in-service education, including research, literature, and demonstrations, on humor habits for stress management to medical staff, patients and families, and professional colleagues.



Uncommon Core Comedy - Celebrating and Satirizing Education's Transition to Common Core State Standards

- Jim Winter, BA, MA, CLL


I am a member of an improvisational comedy ensemble that uses humor, laughter and improvisation to train, motivate and inspire educational professionals.  They are now tackling the knotty problem of federally mandated Common Core State Standards in education.


My goal with this project is to create an hour-long comedic keynote presentation for K-12 educators that incorporate the issues, concerns, frustration and possible benefits of the new Common Core State Standards.  These standards go into effect in schools in 45 states in 2014.  This keynote will be delivered by my improvisationally-based comedy ensemble, Wavelength.


Our goal is to create scripted scenes using parody, satire and comedic exaggeration as well as improvational structures that involve the audience to view CCSS from an educator-friendly perspective.


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