Inspiration from the Humor Project Conference 2012


I attended the 55th International Humor Project Conference this past weekend and learned from a number of great speakers. While a lot of the tips below are more inspirational than actionable (which isn’t a bad thing), there are also some great ideas on things you can do today.

A huge thanks to Dr. Joel Goodman and Margie Ingram for such a great conference, and for giving me a chance to speak at the conference!

You can also check out pictures from the event on the Humor That Works Facebook page.

Smile! You’re on Candid Camera (Peter Funt)

Peter Funt, son of Allen Funt, the creator of Candid Camera, produced and hosted more than 200 episodes of the show.

  • Johnny Carson said, “If they buy the premise, they’ll buy the bit.”
  • The origins of Candid Camera go back to when Peter’s father was tasked with helping soldiers record audio messages to their loved ones. He found the soldiers would get nervous when the recording light was on, so he rigged it so the light never came on and they actually recorded the “rehearsals” instead. That promoted Allen to explore other ways to do hidden recording.
  • Laughter Therapy is a foundation that will send Candid Camera episodes to people who are critically ill, free-of-charge.
  • Participants have remarked that if “he could laugh for 30 minutes, he was pain-free for 4 hours.”
  • Lessons from Candid Camera: 1) The greatest gift would be to see ourselves as others see us. 2) Don’t let anyone rent space in your head. 3) Appreciate life by sometimes looking through the rear-view mirror.

An Inspirational Talk (Sister Anne)

Sister Anne, a fast-talking speaker, therapist, hospital consultant and adjunct professor, gave a talk on inspiration when, sadly, the original keynote speaker Jeffrey Zaslow passed away a few weeks before the Humor Project Conference.

  • What would you do if you were given $86,400 a day, but at the end of the day you lost any money you didn’t spend, and you never knew when it was all going to be taken away?
  • There are 86,400 seconds in a day. How are you spending them?
  • Studies show that even the people sitting around you right now are affecting your mood.
  • People remember 250 to 700% more when they are laughing.
  • 4 great ways to decompress: Laughing, Crying, Stretching & Yawning, Touching
  • We can predict how many colds you get a year based on how many social connections you have.
  • 10 seconds of laughter is comparable to 3-minutes of rowing a boat.
  • My rules: keep learning, keep things simple, laugh often, surround yourself with things you love, cherish your health and tell people you love them.

Painless Icebreakers, Openers and Closers (Dr. Jim Cain)

Jim Cain is the founder of Teamwork & Teamplay, and author of 8 books on team- and community-building activities.

  • Never go longer than 7-minutes with the same icebreaker.
  • Icebreakers are sometimes called de-inhibitors, because that’s what they do.
  • When you give people something kinesthetic to do with their hands, it occupies the part of the brain that makes people nervous, helping them not feel nervous.
  • People want to find people like themselves. Icebreakers help people find what they have in common with others in their group.
  • The more people know about each other, the less likely they are to be violent towards each other.
  • You can have social interaction without conversation.

Keeping Joy in Your Journey (Jana Stanfield)

Jana is an internationally recognized, award-winning recording artist, speaker, humorist and multi-platinum songwriter.

  • It’s important to have a Plan B because you are likely to use it.
  • Change your music, change your life.
  • If you lost your senses, would you be entertained by the memories you had of the things you’ve done?
  • A dream is not a destination; it’s a direction.
  • When we walk in the direction of our dreams we will be surrounded by serendipity.

Developing a Comic Vision (Tim Gard)

Tim Gard is a leading authority on stress reduction through humor and was recently inducted into the Speaker Hall of Fame.

  • Simple philosophy: I’m going to have fun and no one’s going to stop me.
  • Humor is the combining of two ideas in a unique way.
  • Use humor first for yourself.
  • Find your humor strength and capitalize on it. If you’re not good at telling jokes, don’t tell jokes!
  • Humor is the celebration of difficulty.
  • Do people laugh at what I do all the time? No. I don’t care, I do it for me.
  • Use humor to refresh and renew yourself in between negative encounters.

Those are the key things that stood out to me. Thanks for a great conference everyone!

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