2016 Level II - Project Descriptions


Humor Academy Directors: Kathy Laurenhue, Melissa Mork, Nila Nielsen
Level II Study Group Advisor: Sporty King
2016 Academic Instructors: Joyce Saltman

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.


 Understanding Lead Poisoning and Interventions – Can Humor Help?

- Kay Poyner Brown

Lead poisoning in children and the developmental delays it causes had drifted to the back burner of educational research. Beginning in the 1980s serious and wide ranging prevention and public education campaigns all but eliminated lead poisoning in two generations of American children. Aging water system infrastructure across the U.S and failures of government oversight, as we have witnessed in Flint, Michigan have forced the topic back to the forefront.

My Humor Academy project will attempt to explain the nature of brain damage and developmental deficits resulting from lead poisoning, in layman’s language; and explore how our growing understanding of brain function and plasticity may offer new strategies for overcoming the damage to young minds.

Can Humor Help? Brain plasticity and executive functioning skills can be developed and strengthened through direct teaching and humor is a tool in that instructional process. How else does intentional humor impact brain development or redevelopment? What are the social and emotional supports needed to make brain redevelopment possible? What interventions, at what ages are needed to keep future generations of children from experiencing debilitating brain damage from lead poisoning?


The Positive Purpose of Humor

- Harald Ellingsen

My project is to develop and perform a presentation/keynote about the benefits of humor & laughter and why you should always choose a positive attitude. My goal is to make people both laugh and think. As I firmly believe humor enhances interest and learning, I will in my presentation/keynote include standup comedy that underlines the theories of humor.

Some of the topics to be covered:

  •     Definitions of humor
  •     Humor and health
  •     Appropriate vs. inappropriate humor
  •     Choosing to laugh
  •     The power of attitude

The presentation will be presented in both Norwegian and English. Not necessarily at the same time.


Changing the world with LOVE and LAUGHTER

- Guy Giard

Would you like to create a world where the main force is love? Well, like me, you can! Just a few weeks ago I was in Guatemala volunteering with Dr. Patch Adams as a humanitarian clown giving LOVE and LAUGHTER in orphanages and hospitals.

Giving as a ‘love clown’ has been the core of my Humor Academy Project. Humor has opened my heart and transformed my life: I became a Laughter Yoga Leader, joined the AATH and volunteered in Guatemala, Peru and India. I’m also giving lectures on the Health Benefits of Humor and developing a personal empowerment program: The 7 Steps To Loving Your Life. This program can not only help you overcome any adversity and make you fall in love with your life again; it will also clarify your own unique sense of purpose and show how YOU can contribute to global love and happiness!

As I look towards to the future, motivating the corporate world in Overcoming Obstacles and Embracing Change, I’ve never imagined myself in a Leadership role. This is the Power of Humor; not only can it open your heart; it can make you an agent of change for a better loving and caring world.


Beyond Funny: Humor That Heals

- Heidi Hanna, Ph.D.

Over the past few years, the Beyond Funny entity has evolved to become an umbrella organization for several different projects, including the Beyond Funny Coalition, the Beyond Funny Humor Marathon, and the Beyond Funny Research Institute. For this Humor Academy project, I will focus my efforts on the most recent BF experience: “Shift Happens”, looking at the impact of a daily humor intervention on non-conscious biases. In previous studies working with Dr. Evian Gordon and the Brain Resource research team, we determined that perceived stress decreases cognitive capacities in many areas, including flexibility, memory, attention, resilience and negativity bias.

Utilizing an integrative neuroscience assessment, I recently evaluated 200 successful entrepreneurs to determine brain patterns that may provide them with a basis for entrepreneurial success. The most significant finding was a higher than normal positivity bias, leading to high levels of perceived resilience in the midst of high levels of stress. In Phase 1 of my Humor Academy study, I wanted to see if a short humorous video viewed daily before work would shift negativity bias in a more positive way, and if there were any related shifts in other cognitive and emotional factors. Phase 2 of this study will be implemented at a health care facility in order to evaluate if we see similar results in shifting bias and resilience of clinical health care professionals.


You May Pick Your Nose

- Monnie Kinlaw

Your mother never gave you permission to pick your nose. But I have! AATH members know the power of the Red Nose. We use them frequently either by wearing or giving them away. We see the smiles, giggles and laughter they produce.

My project utilized the power of the Red Nose in the workplace with a well adult working population. I set out a large bowl of Red Noses at a large professional conference registration desk with the caption “You May Pick Your Nose.” I recorded reactions, comments, interviewed participants and made observations throughout the three day conference on those who chose to “pick their nose.”

I then provided the same bowl at the claims office of a major hotel chain using the same procedure.

The purpose of the project was to determine if the use of a Red Nose could impact positive emotion and improve customer service in a well adult workforce.


My Piece of the Puzzle...Or Puzzled!!

- Sporty King, ACS/CL

On Monday, January 11, 2016 I tweeted, “I’m living life with more exclamation marks (!!!) than question marks (???). Yet I know who to ask because I choose my messengers carefully.”

My project embraces and enhances that focus in my speaking business, which always has a spiritual twist. Humor Academy II (HA2) has taken what even I labeled my “natural” ability to be funny, and helped me repackage it as the joy of intentional humor. So I’ve taken some of that natural stuff to a higher level. Part of the message shared through my new business theme is that there is no Bottom Line success without Top Line compassion (The Top Line Is…How I Feel Affects Other People!!!)… This translates to How Other People Feel Affects Your Business!!! I remind people that they are important pieces in every puzzle in their lives. I created this presentation to facilitate Suicide Prevention Awareness training for the Army, and it will have transferrable use on any topic, creatively and intentionally. Meanwhile, it’s not a new business theme…it’s revamped. I didn’t stick to it last time the vision arrived. Thanks HA2 (bless you)!!!


Developing and Teaching a PhD Seminar Class in Humor and Laughter Therapy

- Fr. Paul Moore, MS, LPC, LMFT, NCC

My project is to develop and teach a PhD level seminar course in Humor and Laughter Therapy for the College of Education and Health Professions: Department of Rehabilitation, Human Resources, and Communication Disorders titled, CNED 699V - Seminar: Humor and Laughter Therapy. Students will include those enrolled in the Master’s or PhD program in Counselor Education and Supervision or currently licensed mental health counselors seeking continuing education or training.

The course will explore humor and laughter as a therapeutic paradigm and examine concepts and interventions as it relates to mental health and wellness, with an emphasis on mental health as the catalyst for overall wellness with a special emphasis on multicultural and liberation paradigms. The course will utilize experiential blended lecture and group discussion technique with research focused on discovering and creating meaning and process. The primary vehicle for this class is dialogue and discussions since therapeutic and healing modalities are often experiential and dialogical. Discussions, activities, and experiences will provide an opportunity to explore attitudes, feelings, and values associated with our perception of humor and laughter as it applies to therapeutic and wellness paradigms as well as recognizing different experiences in others.

The course will include the following assignments:

  •     Humor and Laughter Genogram
  •     Interview Humor and Laughter Professional    
  •     Individual Article Presentation                   
  •     Partnered Media Analysis               
  •     Multicultural/Liberation Humor Final Presentation