Laughter is the Best Medicine | Laugh Your Way to Health and Success with Andrew Tarvin

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When you talk with people about ways to improve your life, you might mention getting more exercise, choosing the best diet, taking vitamins, improving sleep quality, etc. However, more often than not, humor is not on that list of ways, even though there is a staggering amount of serious research showing how humor and laughter are good for both our physical and mental health.

Therefore, I wanted to have an episode on this topic so that, hopefully, it will also motivate more people – such as you – to include humor in that list of things to bring up the next time you talk with people about ways to improve your health. And hopefully, you can contribute your fair share of things you’ve learned from this interview with standup comedian and the world’s first humor engineer, Andrew Tarvin.

Andrew is a widely known personality who founded Humor That Works back in 2009, a consultancy on how to use humor to get better results at work. Over the years, he has worked with more than 200 organizations—including P&G, GE, ESPN, Microsoft, the U.S. Navy, and PepsiCo—to increase productivity through humor.

Andrew is a best-selling author, having written several books about humor (which can be found in the resource tab). He has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and Forbes and has delivered two astounding TEDx Talks, which are downright hilarious to watch (also can be found in the resource tab).

He is truly a humor engineer who not only makes the world funnier but also happier and healthier.

So I hope you will learn a great deal of practical information in this interview that you can use to make your personal and professional life that bit more fun and enjoyable.

Websites:

  • Andrew Tarvin (Andrew Tarvin is the CEO of Humor That Works, a leadership development company that teaches professionals how to use humor to achieve better business results.)
  • – Humor That Works (Humor That Works is dedicated to helping individuals and organizations learn how to be more effective, more productive, and more awesome using humor in the workplace.)


Books
:

  • The Skill of Humor Playbook: How to Unlock Your Humor Persona to Create Stronger Connections, Increase Productivity, and Relieve Stress (Humor is a skill, which means it can be learned. So, the question isn’t, “are you funny?” The question is: “what kind of funny do you want to be?” The Skill of Humor Playbook teaches you exactly how to create stronger connections, increase productivity, and relieve stress by unlocking the 7 Humor Personas that anyone can learn.) 
  • Humor That Works: The Missing Skill for Success and Happiness at Work ( (If you want to increase team productivity, relieve stress, and be happier at work, you could hire a bunch of workplace consultants, invest in scream therapy, and put Pharrell Williams on repeat—or you could just read Humor That Works. Written by Andrew Tarvin, the world’s first Humor Engineer, this a business book on humor. No, that’s not an oxymoron. It really is a business book and it really is about getting better results by having more fun. Because people who use humor in the workplace are more productive, less stressed, and happier. No joke; sources included.)
  • The United States of Laughter: One Comedian’s Journey Through All 50 States ((At the age of 31, Andrew Tarvin made the very practical decision to rid himself of most of his belongings, leave his Midtown apartment in NYC, and travel the country out of two carry-on bags. In 12 months, he traveled 92,358 miles, did 215 events, and spoke or performed in all 50 states (yes, even Wyoming). Along the way, he collected 50 stories from 50 states. Stories of adventure, like fending off a bear in Alaska, stories of deliciousness, like eating a Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo Burrito in Montana, and stories of people, like meeting his newest fan in Pringle, South Dakota, population: 112.)
  • 501 Ways to Use Humor to Beat Stress, Increase Productivity, and Have Fun at Work (Are you stressed out at work? Do you feel like you’re in a rut? Are you looking for a way to step up your game? Do you realize that you spend nearly 50% of your waking hours at your job and therefore want to learn to enjoy it more? If you answered “yes” to any of the above (or just want to learn how to use humor in the workplace), this book is for you.)
  • Anatomy of an Illness (as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration (Norman Cousins’s iconic firsthand account of victory against terminal disease, Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient inspired a revolution, encouraging patients to take charge of their own treatment.)
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has captivated readers for nearly three decades. It has transformed the lives of presidents and CEOs, teachers and parents – millions of people of all ages and occupations. Now, this 30th-anniversary edition of the timeless classic commemorates the wisdom of the 7 habits with modern additions from Sean Covey.)
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People (In “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, Carnegie offers practical advice and techniques, in his exuberant and conversational style, for how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding.)


Videos:

  • Humor at work | Andrew Tarvin | TEDxOhioStateUniversity (This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. In this talk Andrew Tarvin talks about how he brought humor to the workplace while he worked at Procter & Gamble. After being complimented by co-workers on how humor helped them enjoy their work, Andrew decided to start becoming a humor engineer–using humor to help people become more efficient and effective in the workplace.)
  • The Skill of Humor | Andrew Tarvin | TEDxTAMU (Humor is something that transcends most barriers. It is a common unification; a concept understood by all. Despite this, there exists a large portion of the population that does not think they can utilize humor. Andrew Tarvin will show you that everyone can use humor.)

Boardgames:

  • Hnefatafl, “Viking Chess” (One of history’s greatest board games, Hnefatafl(nef-ah-tah-fel), which translates as “King’s Table,” has been played for more than 1,600 years, far longer than chess. There are two ways to win: either the attackers (24 soldiers) capture the king, or the king (helped by his 12 soldiers) escapes to one of the corners.)

The transcription is, for the most part, AI-transcribed and is currently 85% accurate. We are still weeding out some minor errors.

Jellis Vaes
What’s up there, everyone? Welcome here to another episode on The IPS Podcast. I’m Jellis Vaes, your host and the founder of The IPS Project. Now, in this episode, I wanted to take time to talk about humor. It’s often been said, you know, that humor is the best or that laughter is the best medicine. Now, you know, laughter and humor will probably not fix everything in life, but there are a lot, a lot of physical and mental benefits to you, to humor and to laughing more. I mean, there’s so much research showing how good it is for us. I think we all could use more humor in our life. You know, stress is something that many people complain about. Many people live with a lot of stress. We do live in quite a stressful world. So humor is a great way to relieve some of that stress. Now, for that, I invited none other than Andrew Tarvin, a stand-up comedian and world’s first humor engineer. Andrew founded in 2009 Humor That Works, a consultancy on how to use humor to get better results at work. He has worked with more than 200 organizations over the years, such as PNG, ESPN, Microsoft, the US Navy, and PepsiCo, along with many other ones right, to increase productivity through humor. Andrew also has written several books on humor. He has delivered two TEDx alks, which I can highly, highly recommend you to check out. In preparation for this interview, I rewatched his TEDx talks. I actually watched them years ago, but I just had life the whole time with boats. They are hilarious. Now you can find his TEDx talk his books and any other resources that Andrew mentioned in the interview in the show notes. And the show notes can be found in the description of this episode. Or you can also go directly to theipsproject.com/podcast and search for Andrew to find the show notes. With that, I do hope that you will come to learn a whole lot more about humor and how to add it more to your life with the one and only Andrew Darwin. Please enjoy.

Jellis Vaes
Andrew, a warm welcome here to the IPS podcast. It’s a real pleasure to finally welcome you.

Andrew Tarvin
Thank you. Well, it is a pleasure to be on, to be chatting with you today.

Jellis Vaes
I want to start with a bit of a philosophical question, or at least I think it’s a bit of a philosophical question. You have turned humor into your work. You know, as a comedian, you teach humor to other organizations. You’ve written several books on it, you’ve done several talks about it. You have done a lot with humor. Right? And I was just curious to ask what on a more deeper personal level. What does humor mean to you?

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah, what a great, like you said, you’re starting right out with the philosophical, I like it. Not how are you, et cetera, jumping into, like, what does it mean? No, it’s a wonderful and very valid question. So perhaps the way that I’ll answer it is with a little bit of background, a little bit of story of why I’m so passionate about it is that, you know, growing up, I, I’m not a quote-on-quote naturally funny person, right? Growing up, I was not the class clown. I was not the entertainer. I was not the person who, like, wanted to do theater plays, etcetera. I wasn’t the person that was, like, raising my hand to present, etcetera. I’m very much an introvert by background. I was the, you know, I was voted teacher’s pet my senior year of school. Like, I was the nerdy academic one. That was really good. Teacher’s pet is like, you know, the, like, oh, you’re the, you’re the goody two shoes. You’re the one that’s always doing your homework on time, you know, sitting at the front of class, and you’re doing well on your schoolwork and all that kind of stuff.

And, you know, I was, I was socially awkward in many ways, but really, I was really good at math, really good with computers, not so good with people. Right. Not so good with human. Socially awkward with people that I didn’t know very well, etcetera. And so I went to the Ohio State University in the US for school and got a degree in computer science and engineering, and, you know, was focused on programming and it, and project management and all that kind of stuff. And while there, I started doing improv and stand up comedy, you know, not because I thought, hey, you know who’s funny? Me. Right? Like, no, it was like, I was, like, pushed into it. It wasn’t a, like, I can totally do this. And no one ever told, no one’s ever said to me, like, you should do stand up. Right? That’s never been a phrase people have uttered to me. But I started doing it because my best friend wanted to start an improv comedy group. Needed people forced me to join. And as I did it, I started to learn, one, it’s a skill that you can learn. Two, that I was kind of okay at it.

Like, I was terrible at first, but I liked it enough that I was going to work on it. I read books about it, et cetera. And after that happened, I started seeing changes in my life. I started to realize that one, I wasn’t scared of public speaking as much, even when, at that point, I graduated, started working on Procter and gamble as an IT project manager. And it’s like, oh, I’m not nervous to get up in front of my coworkers and present 15 minutes on an update of my project. Because the night before, I was trying to do ten minutes of stand up comedy in front of ten people in a basement somewhere and trying to make them laugh, right? So I was like, oh, that’s way easier. Like, you know, so I was more confident in that. I was more confident in myself as well as a result of improv in stand up, because when you can make someone laugh, you, like, feel like you’re worthy of being in that conversation in some way. Because, like, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a conversation where, like, people are really talking. They’re really smart, and they’re talking about something interesting, and they’re really accomplished, and they’re talking about something, or they’re just really cool in general.

And then you make them laugh, and you’re kind of like, why am I here? But then you say something that makes them laugh, and it’s like, oh, like I belong.

Jellis Vaes
It feels amazing.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah, I’m part of, like, they want me here because there’s some value that I bring. It changed my perspective on how I saw things. Like, I was very, like, analytical about stuff and improv open the doors, being more. A little bit more positive about stuff, et cetera. And also, I was just getting better results at work. And so all of these things combined together, I was like, oh, this is tremendously valuable. So humor changed my perspective, gave me more confidence, helped me to get better results. And so what humor that works means to me. The organization that I started is very much about this thing that I was pushed into that I never would have self selected to say, hey, I can do this. I needed a gentle push into doing this. I want to be that gentle push for other people, for people listening to the podcast today, for other people, that people that sit in our events or read our book, et cetera. I want to be that gentle push to be like, no, if you can learn this skill, which anyone can, you can gain some of these same benefits. And so that’s what it means to me.

Jellis Vaes
So I did read on the website of humor that works that you also wrote that humor is a skill. Right? You said it now, too. I think for some people listening, they might just wonder how, you know, how is that a skill? I do personally agree with it. I think almost everything in life is a skill that you can learn and get better at. But when did you see and realize for yourself that humor indeed is a skill? How did you come to see that that is true?

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah. Well, I think, you know, one of the things that we say is that we believe anyone can learn to be funny. Er, right. Like, wherever your baseline is, we can improve that. Does that mean that anyone can become, you know, Eddie, is art levels of funny or Jerry Seinfeld levels of funny or Ali Wong levels of funny? No. Right. Like, people don’t come to one workshop of us and then immediately have like a Netflix comedy special waiting for them. No. There’s an incredible amount of practice and crap that goes into it. And some are more naturally better than others. I mean, I think it’s similar to cooking in many ways, where it’s like some people can become master chefs and other people, no matter how much they practice and try it, they’re never going to be on insert cooking show here or whatever. And so humor is the same way, is that anyone can learn to improve whatever their baseline is. Anyone can kind of improve that, because there’s an art and a science to humor.

Jellis Vaes
There’s ingredients.

Andrew Tarvin
Exactly. There are ingredients. I wouldn’t say formulas, necessarily, because part of humor is about breaking expectations. But there are safe frameworks. We know the basic structure of a joke is set up in punchline. And so if you know that, and as you learn that, and if you know that, putting the punchline at the end of a sentence becomes really important, you can start to improve a little bit better. So the example that we sometimes use in our programs is there’s a great quote from George Burns that says, happiness is having a caring, close-knit, tight family in another city. Right? Which is a funny joke. Right? And so that’s clear setup. Setup of happiness is having a caring, close knit family. Right? And then, in another city is the punchline.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah.

Andrew Tarvin
And it works because the punchline is at the end. Now, if that. If the structure of that quote was happiness is having a family in another city who is carrying close knit and tight doesn’t really work as well. And so by learning something like structure, you can now, when you are even just riffing with your friends and going back and forth or you’re trying to tell a joke in the office or whatever it happens to be, just knowing, oh, I need to put the punchline at the end and pause a little bit afterwards, that’s going to improve your humor skill, even just a little bit right. So you can learn these science components. You can learn about the comic triple and a callback and a tag and all this other stuff of what happens from humor, you can learn about. Yes. And principles. And if this is true and what, what else is true, et cetera, that’s the science component of it. And then there is an art component of humor where it’s not just robotic and mechanical that you do need to practice it. And so what we do in our programs is we give people the space to practice it and give them feedback.

But anywhere in life, if you start practicing that skill more, if you start to cook a little bit more, you are going to get better. If you want to play the piano, you can watch a bunch of videos, but eventually you need to practice and sit down and play the piano. Same thing with humor. You do need that practice. And so we, you know what, like what we said, as we teach you the science part of, we give you a chance to practice a little bit at the art of it. And then if you go out and practice more of it on your own, that’s where you’re going to continue to improve that skill.

Jellis Vaes
The programs that you mentioned, these are the programs with humor that works, right? With your company? Yes, exactly. Talking about humor that works, what is actually the origin story, like, of you deciding to start that? When did you say to yourself, like, okay, we need more humor in organizations? How did you come to make that decision to do that?

Andrew Tarvin
Actually, you know, I mean, I wish I had a super sexy story to tell you. Like, I wish it was like, you know, I did a show, and afterwards, like, Jerry Seinfeld was like, ah, you’re the funniest person I’ve ever met. You’ve got to teach corporations about this, right? Like, or I wish it was, you know, I was just fed up at my corporate job, and so I flipped over a table, stormed out, and, you know, like, I want to make people laugh. And it’s like, no, that would have been better. It would be a great story. It’s just not.

Jellis Vaes
The truth is often boring.

Andrew Tarvin
Exactly. But the truth of it is, I, so I was working at Procter and Gamble as an IT project manager. I was doing stand up comedy and improv. On the side is kind of like this other thing. And the true origin story of it is a woman reached out to me who also worked at PNG and was like, hey, I’m part of this women’s and leadership group within the organization. And I just read this Harvard Business Review article about the value of humor and I remember you do stand up. So I was wondering, would you be willing to come and talk to the women’s group about what you’ve learned about stand up and maybe hear some other research that I found about it, and maybe you can talk a little bit about what the research says and then what you’ve learned from standup and how to do it. So I was like, yeah, that sounds amazing. Happy to do it. And I discovered that speaking training was kind of like stand up with the message. Cause essentially what I did was I went to this program. I did, like, 15 minutes of stand up beforehand just to get people, like, laughing.

Then I read some of the research and put together some slides and then did a little bit more comedy. And I was like, oh, wow, I love this. And it was really well received. People really enjoyed it. So I started doing that more and more internally at PNG, to the point that I proclaimed myself the corporate humorist of PNG. I started an internal blog. I got business cards made. I kind of assumed someone would stop me. Like, I assumed eventually that, like, Hr or legal would be like, you know, you can’t just create your own job title. But no one ever did. Instead, people started referring to me as a corporate humorist. Internally, people started to seek me out for advice and suggestions and have me, I would MC award shows internally, or I would lead trainings, et cetera. And this was all over the course of a couple of years. And so eventually I was like, okay, I think this is what I want to do. I want this to be the full time. Like, if it’s working for people internally at PNG, my guess is that there’s plenty of other people outside of PNG, because PNG, it’s a big company, but it’s only about 100,000 people.

There’s seven at the time, 7 billion people in the world. And so there’s maybe more people that could benefit from this message. And so then that was the goal, to, like, let me start humor that works. Now I’m a project manager and engineer by background, so it wasn’t a, like, still not the sexy story of, like. So then I went into that office and I told a funny joke, and then I stormed out. I was like, no. Over the course of about two years, I built up the business. I did it part time. It was my quote unquote side hustle until it got big enough that I was like, okay, yeah, now I’m gonna, now I’m gonna leave and focus on this full time. And that was twelve years ago.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah. If I recall correctly, you started in 2009.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah. 2009 is when the humor that works blog initially started, and then two and a half years after that. 2012 is when I left PNG, and this was the kind of full time thing that’s amazing.

Jellis Vaes
So something that I want to do in this interview is to get a bit practical.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah.

Jellis Vaes
To see what you could teach listeners and me, right. About humor. But before I will do that, there was one thing that when I was, like, thinking about questions and when I was thinking about humor, that I just was really curious to ask and hear your opinion on. So when you sit down with friends and you talk about ways to improve your life, you might talk about how to optimize sleep, what kind of food or diet to eat, which exercise to do, which vitamins to take. But I feel humor is not so much added to that list.

Andrew Tarvin
Right.

Jellis Vaes
That’s just what I recall from previous conversations about ways to optimize your health. I feel like humor is not so much or not added to that list. And I was really curious to hear your thoughts on why is that? Because the research, and you probably know this better than me, is quite staggering on how good humor is for us. Right?

Andrew Tarvin
Absolutely. Yeah. The research, it was the thing that blew my mind as well as, as I was learning more and more about this research, it was like, why don’t we talk about this more? Why, why didn’t I get this in my business training classes right when I was going to, when I had business school classes? Or, why do we not get this as training going on? It’s like, why aren’t people telling us about this? And that’s part of the mission of humor that works, is to be like, well, you know, as I jokingly kind of changed the Gandhi quote of, it’s like, be the comedian you wish to see in the world, right? Be the change you wish to see in the world. Like, it’s like, okay, if no one else is talking about this, maybe I should. And it turns out there are some people talking about it. But there’s an interesting thing around humor in that, I think because it’s such a one, it can be a difficult thing for people to think they know how to do. It’s a thing that, more so than so much other. Like, people are like, oh, you, like, you’re either naturally funny or not, which they never say that about language, right?

They never say, like, oh, you naturally speak English or not, right? Some people are like, you. Like, you. You naturally like, oh, you’re. I can never learn another language well, it’s like, well, if you don’t grow up with it, like, I grew up in Ohio, where it’s like, you only spoke not even English. You spoke merc. And, like, you, there’s a different style. But I’m sure in Belgium, you probably grew up learning a second language, if not a third or fourth language, relatively early on. Or it’s a big part. Like, you know, just culturally, it’s a thing that you do, so it becomes a little bit more natural. Well, humor is a similar thing. A lot of times we learn it through osmosis. And I think the other thing is that because it’s so much fun, I think some people are a little bit like, well, it can’t possibly also be that good for you. Like, or it’s like, it can’t. Like, no, like, if I. If you think about the things that you listed, like, optimizing for sleep. Well, sleep by itself does tend to be fun, but so, for some people, it’s hard for them to go to sleep, or they, um.

Or it’s in the way of you doing, like, yes, I know I should sleep, but I also kind of want to finish binge watching this tv show, or I’m stuck playing this video game, or I’m busy with work, et cetera. Exercise is kind of a hard thing to do, eating healthy. I mean, just at least personally, to me, like, I would. Yes, much rather drink a milkshake than to eat a kale salad. But so it’s like, it’s a little bit harder to do that. And so in some ways, I think humor is almost too fun for its own good, where it’s kind of like, yeah, is it valid that this is a, like, life improvement thing for me to do if I’m. If it’s causing me to laugh? And the reality is, it is, like, the. All of the things that you talked about, all the things that we think of in terms of improving the things that we do, I would say humor can make those things better. And maybe that’s the other small caveat to it, is that humor by itself is okay. But I would say for the vast majority of people, the real value in learning the skill of humor is improving other aspects of their life and making the other things that they want to do more fun.

Right? Like, so if you know this skill of humor and you say, hey, I want to make exercise more, like, I need to exercise more, well, if you want to make exercise more fun, whereas rather than, hey, I’m going to force myself to go out and do sprints by myself and instead say, well, what if I joined a pickup basketball league, which is going to force you to do sprints kind of anyway, to get you more in shape and that kind of stuff, it’s like, oh, it’s more fun. I’m going to enjoy it a little bit more. And so I think of it as like, in many ways, humor is less of kind of the what real core component to do. And it’s more of the how of how it sprinkles into how you can be more productive, how you can think more creatively, how you can communicate better, how you can connect with people closer, how you can lead even further. Right. So it’s a ancillary skill in some ways to add to the other stuff you’re already doing. Does that make sense?

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that could be a good point that it might be just fun. So you expect good things to be hard sometimes.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah.

Jellis Vaes
And sometimes that’s true. Right. But not always it has to be that way.

Andrew Tarvin
Exactly.

Jellis Vaes
One thing that I was also just thinking about, it could also be because doctors, you know, don’t talk about humor. Right. So you might forget because the healthcare professionals don’t talk about the benefits that it is a valid thing to also have in that mix of things to improve your life.

Andrew Tarvin
Absolutely. And, yeah, it’s very rare. Like, that’s a great point because, like, we talk a little bit from the corporate context. Like, why isn’t humor, why don’t we think about, like, very rarely do. Very rarely are you going to sit down one on one with your manager and he’ll be like, he or she will be like, hey, you’re doing a fantastic job, but you need to laugh more or you need to smile or you should be telling more jokes. Like, very rarely is that going to be the feedback, you know, that they give similarly to a doctor, they’re going to be like, you need to eat healthier. They’re not necessarily, you know, no one’s asking the, like, you know, how many laughs have you had in the last five days? They might ask, you know, how much have you been drinking, how many cigarettes or how many, you know, how often do you exercise? But it’s not like, how often are you laughing for, you know, really big laugh. And. But perhaps they should. I mean, the research shows.

Jellis Vaes
Oh, yeah.

Andrew Tarvin
I mean, physiologically, one laughing just basically burns calories. Right. And so it can be a way to, like, burn some additional calories more. So it relaxes muscles. It relaxes, like, eases tension. It helps us to increase the blood flow through our body as well. There’s. Norman Cousins wrote a great book on when he was suffering from an autoimmune disorder. Talked about the value of. He realized he was on all these medications that they would try, but he realized if he laughed really hard, he would be pain free for an hour or two after having laughed. And so he started to do humor therapy. He started to say, like, no, it is, like, it’s important part of my daily routine to watch these really funny movies because it’s part of my pain management. Right. And so there’s. That’s just a physiological benefits. There’s, you know, we talk about is 30 plus benefits to using humor in the workplace, backed by research, case studies, real world examples. And it applies in a lot of other areas. And I think that’s almost. I say the last thing I’d say about, like, the perception of humor is that it’s almost.

It almost applies in too many places for people to like because they don’t know. They’re like, oh, I want to be a better communicator at work. Well, humor can help you to do that. Or they might be like, oh, I want to have a better relationship with my. My spouse or my kids. Well, humor can help you to do that. Like I said before, it’s a means to an end. It’s not necessarily the thing in and of itself. Yeah.

Jellis Vaes
Or even if you want to get more friends, it’s a great way to build a connection with people.

Andrew Tarvin
Oh, for sure. It’s one of the quickest ways to build a connection with someone. You get someone to laugh and immediately, subconsciously, you’re like, okay, this person, at least, we’re kind of on the same side of this thing, and we at least have enough of a connection that they made me laugh.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah. The book that you mentioned, do you know the title?

Andrew Tarvin
Um, it is… Norman Cousins is the book. And the specific kind of book on humor I can….I think, was Anatomy of an Illness. And so it was him writing about his experience kind of from the patient perspective. And I think it is  part of it, he talked about in that particular book, I think he talked about humor.

Jellis Vaes
Okay. So for people listening, I will put that in the show notes. Let me throw two imaginary groups at you.

Andrew Tarvin
Okay.

Jellis Vaes
So the first group, if you had a day to make a group of people who aren’t, you know, considered funny, funnier and who want to be funnier, right. What would you focus on that day to help them become funnier.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah, well, typically, what we start with is very rarely with the people that we work with is the goal to be funnier. Right. So we work with, we work with a lot of corporations. We also work with a lot of, like, nonprofit organizations. So we’ve done work with, like, the Red Cross, with the UN, with NASA, et cetera. So groups that are typically seen as, quote, unquote serious. And so very like, every now and then, I’ll talk with people and help with coaching, but very rarely is it like, oh, I’m not oftentimes working with stand up comedians where their goal is like, how do I get even funnier? How do I like, you know, if I’m going to shoot a Netflix comedy special, how do I get even more laughs out of it, etcetera? Where, again, the goal of humor is to achieve something else. So first, what we do is we talk about, okay, the goal might be, you might think the goal is to be funnier, but what’s the, what’s the subsequent thing past that? Is it that you want to learn to use humor? Because you have a bunch of salespeople and you want to help them to improve their sales process.

So you want to help them to build better rapport with people, and you want them to be able to better explain kind of the product and close the deal, etcetera. Or is it a group of project managers and you want to help them, you know, take what is stereotypically seen as like, oh, but project managers are just overhead and there are babysitters, et cetera. And so you want to help them to improve their communication skills and their connection skills with their employees. Is it a bunch of CEO’s or senior leaders? And they want to improve their presentation skills and executive presence. So it starts more with what can humor help us to get to? Or it might vary the closest thing to the, like, hey, we just want to be funny. Or might be. And we do some programs, too, on, like, I just want to enjoy my work more, right. I want to stop dreading going into the workplace. I want to, like, have joy in the, like, you know, nine to five where I’m going to work. Where do I start? So depending on what they choose of that we would go in slightly different directions.

So of all those things, or maybe something else. And this, this hypothetical. What, what’s their, what’s their challenge? What’s their. Why would. Yeah, pick one. And I can, and I’m, and I’m happy to share a little bit more of what we would do then.

Jellis Vaes
Okay, so let’s say more in someone’s personal life. Right. They just want to. I don’t know, maybe find more friends.

Andrew Tarvin
Yep. Okay, so what we would do, probably, if it’s more personal and that’s in focus and find more friends or build.

Jellis Vaes
More connection with people, maybe build more connection.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah. In that case, we would probably do. We would start, most likely, depending on the time that we had together, we would focus a lot more on improvisation than, say, stand up. Stand up tends to be more presentational comedy. Stand up is, hey, I’m an individual person talking into a microphone with setup and punchlines and jokes and that kind of thing. And so that’s more. When there’s, like, something very specific that you’re going after that, we use that. Improvisation is more of, hey, we’re. People are getting together. They’re making stuff up off the top of their head, something that hasn’t come up before. Improvisation is incredible at training skills because it gives you a safe place to practice a skill set, an idea. So, for example, one exercise that we might do, and we can do it now, there’s an exercise called first letter, last letter. And the way that it works is that you and I are going to have a conversation. And after that conversation starts, and I’ll ask you a question, and then you’re going to say the first thing, and then it starts after you kind of give your answer to the question that I give you.

After that starts after you give your answer. Each new line, when we go back and forth that we talk, each new line has to begin with the last letter of the last word that was just said. Okay, so, you know, for example, if you say something like, yeah, so I will. Yeah. So I’m calling in today from Belgium, right. That ends in m. And so I would have to respond to that statement starting with something that starts with the letter n. So I might say something like, man, that’s, like, really cool. I’ve only been to Belgium once. I went to Brussels. Right. That ends in s. You would have to start with something that starts with the letter s. Okay, so we’re gonna start that now. Each new line, both of us have that criteria.

Jellis Vaes
Okay, let me roll up my sleeves.

Andrew Tarvin
The question that I want you to answer is, what’s something that you’re getting up to this weekend? What do you. What’s something you’re doing this weekend?

Jellis Vaes
Okay. Weekend. So, with a D. Doing a date night with my girlfriend on Sunday.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about. Right. It’s fun to talk about the. The date night. And what do you have? What’s something that you’re gonna plan?

Jellis Vaes
Let’s see. Not sure yet, but it might be that we’re playing a new board game that I bought.

Andrew Tarvin
That’s cool. Yeah. So you’re big into board games. Is there a game that you’ve played recently that I should try to play with my wife?

Jellis Vaes
Ooh, with an e. Enormously positive that you should play Hnefatafl, if you ever heard about it.

Andrew Tarvin
That I’m not even sure I can pronounce, so I’ve never played. All right, so we’ll stop right there. Right.

Jellis Vaes
By the way, it’s a just, if you never heard of Hnefatafl, it’s viking chess. You should look that up.

Andrew Tarvin
I like it. Yeah, let’s put that in show notes as well. I want to go find that out, learn more about that. But that’s an exercise that we would do, is we would have people get together in pairs, and they would do the exercise. And then very important in applied improv session is the debrief. And so the way that we talk about that as a question is there’s a couple ways we can kind of frame it. But first of all, I guess, let me ask, how was the exercise? Was it easy? Was it hard? Was it fun? Was it dumb? Any reactions?

Jellis Vaes
I enjoyed it. I think it’s very creative. You have a limitations. There’s limitations put on you, and that can sometimes create creativity. Right. I liked it. Yeah.

Andrew Tarvin
It changes a little bit, the words that you use and all that kind of stuff. And let me ask you, how did that, like, say, segment of the conversation differ from either how we’re normally talking or say a different conversation? How was it a little bit different in your own experience?

Jellis Vaes
I think what I just said, that there’s restrictions put on you. I mean, you have a lot of freedom still, but, yeah, it makes you think creatively more, I think. I think that’s the big difference.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah. I mean, that’s probably the biggest. There’s an actual restriction. So it does change the words that you use. Right. Like, I don’t know how often you say the phrase enormously positive.

Jellis Vaes
All the time.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah, all the time. It’s everything that I think about in life is enormously positive. Right. But, like, so it changes a little bit what you think about. But when we do that exercise, people also kind of recognize, well, first of all, the conversation was a little bit slower. Right. There is a little bit more of a longer pause, etcetera, which is fine, but sometimes the feedback, almost in every single group, eventually someone will say something like, oh, well, you know, in this exercise, you, like, actually had to listen. And it’s like, wait, is that different than normal conversation? And the reality is that it is. Right. And oftentimes in normal conversation, we are listening to respond. We are listening to what this person is saying long enough to get a sense of what they’re talking about. And then while they’re talking, we start to formulate a response in our head of what we’re going to say. And then we’re just waiting for them to shut up so that we can drop knowledge on them. All right, if you stop talking, I’m going to tell you everything that I’ve already pre planned in my head. This exercise forces you to wait until the ends of the sentence before you can start, right?

Because you have to wait for what that letter is going to be. You have to listen to the last word. And it does change what you listen to, because then in this exercise, sometimes you’re like, wait, was that the last word? Was that the last word? Was that the last word? It’s not necessarily to say this is effective listening, but it’s just an exercise that we do to kind of turn on the lights and say, we’re normally listening to respond when instead we want to be listening to understand. We want to seek first to be understood, then to be seek first understand, then to be understood. One of the seven habits of highly effective people from Stephen Covey. And so we would do this exercise. And a couple of things have happened by doing this exercise. First of all, it’s a fun, kind of playful exercise that’s not too hard to do. So the relationships of the people in the room have now just gotten a little bit stronger. Right. If you’ve done this as part of a workshop and you’re doing this on, say, a team or at a networking event where you don’t know anyone well, now you’ve had a short experience with this person, you’re like, okay, I know them a little bit better.

The second thing that it’s done is it’s actually given you a chance to practice your listening skills. Right? It’s not something like very. It’s you. A lot of times if we go to, like, say, a communications workshop, they might talk about the importance of listening. But how often do you actually practice the skill of listening? So it gives you a chance to practice a really important skill in terms of getting to know people a little bit better. And then third, the debrief. It gives you that kind of aha. Moment to be like, oh, wait, I should try to be. I should be much better at listening to understand. I should be better at doing that process. And all throughout it, you’ve now just done an improv exercise, right? So you’re building that skill set of improvisation and thinking on your feet. And the humor component of it is that it’s fun. It’s something different that you weren’t necessarily expecting. Like you said, it adds a little bit of creativity or constraint where you say words like enormously positive that you maybe normally don’t say. And it’s so, it’s all building that skill. And so the workshop would be a series of those kind of exercises built and constructed in a very specific way to deliver on the goal that you want, of which in this case, might be a series of skills or exercises, things that you should learn or build to improve, to build relationships.

Because in the final debrief that we do, in this case of, if you want to build better friends, if you read how to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie, he’s like, you will make more friends in a week by being interested in other people than you will in a year of trying to be interesting. And so what that means is listening, and active listening and effective listening. Hey, this is one of the skills that we just practiced, right? So now we’re the training of the how the humor and the improvisation is a how to achieve that goal.

Jellis Vaes
So one of the takeaways would be for people, if they would want to be, in a way, funnier. And in this case, build more connection with someone is to just listen more.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah. Is to listen more and to be more present in that listening. Really, really work on listening to understand. And it’s hard. It’s not necessarily easy to do. And there’s a little bit of research as to why that’s true. There’s a little bit of scientific. The reason is that we, as people, tend to speak at about 150 words per minute in terms of our natural pace of speech. The average person is capable of listening to about 300 words per minute. This is why you can watch or listen. Like, I’m someone who listens to podcasts at two x speed, right? Cause not only is it faster, but also more people sound like me. Right? So that’s just joke that I have, right. But it is true. But I listen to it because it’s like, oh, and so if you’re used to that in this fast paced world. If you can listen at 300 words per minute, but this person is only talking 150 words per minute, it’s natural, like in the gaps of speech, et cetera, to start to get a little bit distracted, to think about something else, to think about what you’re going to say or if you’re nervous about the situation, or if you want to really try to be funny, you’re going to be like, what’s a funny thing that I can say?

And you might miss part of the conversation. And so part of this is, okay, to be more present, and improvisation in particular is less about really thinking about what’s that really clever, funny thing to say and more about being really hyper present in the moment and reacting honestly and reacting with what we call yes, and would be another technique that we would talk about. And so if you do that, that’s where you build that skillset of being more conversationally funny as opposed to, say, writing a joke, set up punchline funny.

Jellis Vaes
Hey, I’m sorry to interrupt the interview with Andrew and me. This will just take a short moment. If you have come to enjoy this episode so far, if you have come to enjoy any episodes on The IPS Podcast, then please consider subscribing and leaving a rating. You know, leaving a rating would mean. It would honestly mean the world to me. It would help me to invite more incredible guests such as Andrew here on the show. So in a way, you’re also helping yourself, right, to have more incredible guests here on the show and to learn more live education that I want to bring here on the show. And, well, what The IPS Project is about, right, about life education. So it would help me to invite more incredible guests on the show. You could have a direct impact by leaving rating. So if you would take a short moment of your time, it could have an impact on this podcast, on my work. And, yeah, that would mean a lot to me. So if you would take the time. Thank you truly for doing that. Okay, let’s continue now with the interview with Andrew. Let me throw the last group that I had in mind at you to see how you would help them with humor if you had a day with a group of people who don’t per se want to be funnier, but just want more humor in their life, want to laugh more. And this might sound quite simple in a way, just watch more, you know, comedy specials. But are there maybe any suggestions that you have that listeners might not have thought about to use to add more humor in their life?

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah. So the big program that we’re doing now, especially for longer day programs, is what we call kind of the find your funny program. And the idea is that if humor is a skill and it means that it can be learned, then the question isn’t actually, are you funny? The question is, what kind of funny are you, or what kind of funny do you want to be? And so what we found in our research is that there’s not just one way to be funny or to have more humor in your life. There’s actually seven primary, what we call Personas of how people tend to express their humor.

Jellis Vaes
I saw that on your website, I think, of humor that works where you can do the quiz.

Andrew Tarvin
Exactly. Yeah, you can take a quiz, it’s like two and a half, three minutes long, and you answer, like, 16 questions. It’ll tell you what your primary Persona is. Because of these seven, you can learn all seven. That’s what we encourage long term. But there’s probably one or two of them that you do naturally. And so, yeah, you can go to the website, take the quiz, or you can kind of listen. I can give you kind of a high level description of each one. And then probably with those, you can identify, like, oh, I do that with this person. I do this with another person, et cetera. So the first Persona that we often talk about is that of the enthusiast, and that is someone who simply is, like, finds joy in everyday life and every aspect. They’re the person who is, like, constantly cracking up. They constantly seek out kind of funny stuff to watch on YouTube, or they’re going on Netflix, and they watch stand up comedians. Or they’re the person that, like, will be. You’ll be sitting at a restaurant and they’ll, like, just start laughing out of nowhere. And you’re like, what are you laughing at?

And they’ll be like, oh, I was just looking over there, and this guy’s face, like, kind of looked like, you know, these two people were perfectly lined up, so it looked like he was kind of like a bird or what? And, like, what are you talking about? And they’re like, I don’t know. I just thought it was funny. Right. They’re the people that, like, find humor and even the smallest moments or details. Right. So that’s what we call the enthusiast. Then we have the next one is what we call the curator. The curator is someone who takes things that they find funny. If they find, you know, if they come across a funny meme that they send it to their friends. Right. If they’re watching Instagram reels and stuff, like, that, and then they hit. They’re like, oh, I like that. So and so would like that as well.

Jellis Vaes
Sounds like my girlfriend, actually.

Andrew Tarvin
Right, exactly right. So it sounds like a person that you maybe know, they become curators. Curators are a phenomenal Persona to have because you’re, you’re sharing more humor out in the world without you being the funny person. Like, if you’re that introverted person, that’s like, I could never get up and stand up and tell people a joke. Well, curator is great because you can say, well, this thing is already proven to be funny. It’s got a ton of likes on Instagram, or it’s got a, you know, a ton of upvotes on Reddit or whatever it happens to be. There’s social proof that this is an engaging piece of content. Well, now I can share that with other people now. And that’s a great, that builds relationships. Right. Like, if someone sends you something that really makes you laugh or smile, it’s kind of like, oh, wow, they get me. One, they were thinking of me, and two, they know me enough to remember that I love milkshakes. And so they sent me this, like, funny meme about, you know, milkshakes. So curator is another great one. It’s one of the more common ones that we, we see because people are like, it’s relatively easy to do.

Up next, you have the inventor. This is one that’s a lot less common because the inventor is someone who, like, sits down and writes. It’s the person that’s like, maybe they’re not really funny conversationally with their friends, but then when they post something on Facebook, it’s really funny. Or when they write an email, it might be really interesting, or they like writing poetry, or they do, you know, write kind of just jokes and stuff like that, or they’ll write out stories. So it’s very much about that kind of, like, sit down more kind of like, very kind of intentionally. Right. Humor. It’s something that not as many people do, people that do journaling. And if they journal a lot and if they’re intentional about, like, hey, what’s the humor that I find? And kind of, can I craft that into a story? Et cetera? Those are inventors as well. After the inventors, the other one that is somewhat common, but people are like, are scared by it, is what we call the entertainer. The entertainer is someone’s very good at the presenting of information where it’s like they’re the person. When it’s like, when they tell a story, it doesn’t matter.

Even if it’s like a trip to the grocery store, you’re, like, captured, and captured by what they’re saying. You’re just like. Like, I don’t know. Like, there’s just a way that they speak. It’s fine. Even if it’s not a great story, the way they tell it is so confusing.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah.

Andrew Tarvin
That’s typically what we think of when we think of, like, someone who is quote unquote funny is that entertainer, that person that could get up on stage and make an entire room full of people laugh. And that’s only one component of being in the entertainer, but it’s also only one of these seven Personas. Right. If you’re intimidated by that idea and you’re like, I’m not that naturally funny person, well, great. There’s other Personas as well. After that, we’ve got the engineer. The engineer is kind of like my initial Persona, and it’s the person who is, like, using humor intentionally to solve a problem where it’s less like, oh, what’s something funny to say? And more of like, oh, I’m going to use humor at the beginning of this presentation so that people are listening, and then I can tell them the project managed status update that I need to give, or I’m going to use. I’m going to listen to a funny podcast on my way home at work, not just because I enjoy it, because I know it’s going to help me relieve stress so that I’m more, you know, I shake off kind of the rest of the day, and then I’m more present for my daughter when I get home.

Right. There’s a lot more intention behind why I’m using that humor. Then we have the advocate. The advocate is someone who’s really good at putting, you know, creating the space for other people to be funny or to share humor. So it’s maybe the person kind of a little bit behind the scenes in the group of friends that’s, like, always organizing fun activities where they’re not necessarily, like, the life of the party type person, but they’re like, hey, wouldn’t it be fun if we all, like, went and, I don’t know, played laser tag or we all went, anyone want to go bowling this weekend? They’re like, where they. They don’t have to be that funny, but they’ve created the space for other people to jump in, or they’re the ones when other people are talking, where it’s like, wait a second. What were you saying? Like, they’re the people that we, as introverts, really, like, where, like, if you start to say something and then you, like, get sidetracked, you’re never gonna be like, well, I guess we’ll never tell that story. But they’re the ones that, like, have been listening and be like, wait a second.

I think they wanted to say something. And so it’s like they bring in so they’re really thinking about other people and how to make them look really good. And then final last Persona is a skeptic, and the skeptic is someone who is, like, really kind of balances what’s appropriate. Not not appropriate. Skepticism too far is kind of like just the curmudgeon, just that person that’s, like, never laughing at all. And it’s like, you know, work is supposed to feel like work or, like, doesn’t find anything funny, etc. So that can be taken too far, but it can be a good Persona in different moments. And so, as I’m saying, those, my guess is, like, you maybe think of different people, right? You said, oh, charity, that sounds like a girlfriend, or as you’re listening, did any of those, are any of those things that you do or any of those ones that you’re like, oh, maybe I’m. I mean, sometimes I’m an entertainer. I can tell stories. I mean, I host a podcast. And in some ways, you’re an advocate because you’re getting people, you know, giving people space. But any others that have any resonate with you?

Jellis Vaes
The first one that you said, I can’t recall the name now, but that sounded a bit like me, that I could just be looking around in my environment and start laughing randomly because I see something funny or that I perceive as funny.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah, and so. Yeah, exactly. And so what we would do, so what we do in these programs is, well, one, people can cater the quiz. So I understand, but they’re very intentional at their Personas, because as you’re listening, some of these, you might say, oh, with this group of friends, I’m a curator. When I’m by myself, I’m the enthusiast, because I’m constantly looking around like, oh, that’s funny. That’s interesting. When I’m at work and I have to give a presentation, I sometimes become a little bit of that entertainer. So the goal is that you learn each of these different Personas and can use them at different times. But for someone that just wanted more levity, more humor, more joy in their life, we would do this as a program, and essentially, we do a deep dive into each one of those Personas and someone that just wants more levity in life. We probably spend a lot of time on the enthusiast because that is very much about how do we find more joy and appreciation of the things that happen to us. And there’s some great techniques that we can do to do that, which we can talk about if we want, but it’s to say, okay, but then there’s also curator, or then there’s also this skillset.

There’s also this skill set. And now, because you can switch between all of these, you’re gonna have a lot more humor, because maybe it’s not appropriate to be an enthusiast at this point. It’s much better to be an advocate, et cetera.

Jellis Vaes
Okay, could you dive into one of the skills that you would teach?

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah. So one of the ones that we, where we often start is the enthusiast. And that’s because if we can kind of, if we see more things out there, if we can start to recognize humor out in the real world and everything that happens to us, one, we laugh and smile a whole lot more, but it also actually feeds the other ones. And so part of that is, one, you can be more intentional about seeking out funny stuff. You can kind of say, oh, like, all right, if I’m stretch, anytime I’m stressed out, can I just go on YouTube and look for stand up comedy videos? Or once a week? I mean, something that my wife and I do is that about once a week, we’re like, let’s watch some stand up comedy. Like, I’ll find a different comedian to watch just so that we can. It’s been a long week. We’ve got a toddler at home, so we don’t always have, like, a ton of time. We might be tired by the end of the day, but, like, all right, let’s give us an excuse to laugh for 30 minutes. There’s that, but then there’s also another component where we can find more intention.

And this is something kind of based off of the reticular activating system in the brain, which controls selective attention. Are you familiar? Kind of. With selective attention. It’s this concept where, like, you know if you’ve ever, like, bought in a certain brand or type of shoe, and then, like, you start to see it everywhere, you start to, like, notice, like, so many other. Like, how did I not notice, like, everyone’s wearing ons these days? Like, I’ve been a huge fan of on running shoes for, like, like, three or four years, but I feel like everyone’s wearing on running shoes these days, and it’s like, I. So I noticed them. Are they actually any more prevalent than Nikes or adidas? I don’t think so, but because they’re unique to me, because I put them on my feet every single day, I notice when other people have them. Right. That’s a function of selective attention. Right. Our brain, based on the things that we give it, we start to see it a little bit more in the world. Well, that’s true for things like humor. If we train ourselves to start looking for humor, we actually start to see it more.

Right. Because it’s not that funny things happen to funny people, it’s that funny people see the things that happen to them in a funny way. And so one of the big techniques to be a better enthusiast or become more of an enthusiast is to keep what we call a humor notebook. Or if you already do, like, any type of journaling or diary stuff each day, to have some type of component of, like, what made me laugh today or what did I find funny today or what was really interesting. And if you start to do that one, you can remember the funny stuff. So that if later, like a week from now, and you’re like, oh, yeah, I’m getting ready to go out with my friends and they’re going to ask me, what have I been up to? What have I been up to? It’s like, oh, that’s right. Like, yesterday I went to this story, and this crazy thing happened to me in the grocery store. Like, oh, I can tell them that as a story. So it helps you remember things. But two, it starts to change what you see. You start to see more and more out of, like, almost anything that happens to you.

You’re like, oh, okay. There’s practically probably some humor in that.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, you’re training your brain. Exactly. Okay, that’s good.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah. And so there’s writing exercises that we sometimes do with that. And so one, one exercise, and you kind of maybe just improvise this. I think you’ve got the skills to do it. Like, what are some things that you just, like, love. What are some things that you just really enjoy?

Jellis Vaes
I love… I love playing piano, guitar, climbing mountains, going for walks, cuddling my girlfriend. Those are some things.

Andrew Tarvin
I like it. I like it. And how long have you been playing piano and guitar?

Jellis Vaes
I think guitar for five years. Piano for four years or something.

Andrew Tarvin
Okay. All right, very nice. And is there a particular song that you like? If someone was like, hey, here’s a piano. Wow. Us.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah. So the thing is that I’m, I play basically only my own things.

Andrew Tarvin
Oh, okay.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah. So I don’t know if that’s useful now for this, but I don’t really play other people’s songs. I just play my own things.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah. Well, I think that’s great. Right? I mean, why. Yeah, it’s harder to learn other people’s stuff. Like, you have a right and wrong way of doing this song. If. If you. I make up my own, you know how I decided to do it? That’s why I always. I did musical improv for a long time, versus, like, you know, I would much rather do. I would much rather improvise a song that no one’s ever heard of before than do karaoke because there are expectations in terms of what a song is supposed to sound like in karaoke, whereas improvised musical, it’s kind of like, well, people know that you’re making it up. And also, it’s whatever I want it to be at this point. But even just this concept, as an enthusiast, if you start to then think a little bit more about, okay, what is it about piano? Why do I like it? How does it bring me joy? If it does bring you joy, then one being more intentional about it, to say, hey, whenever I’m feeling really stressed, let me make sure that I can get a ten minute piano break in, or I’m just going to schedule.

I know that my hardest meeting is Tuesdays at 03:00 p.m. So I’m going to put on my calendar Tuesday night when I get home, the first thing that I’m going to do is play piano for 15 minutes. Right. To say, like, I know this stressful thing is going to happen. I know this thing destresses me now. I’m much more intentioned about that enthusiasm, the thing that brings me joy in my life. But also from that, you also might start to develop material. This is where it can feed into some of the other Personas where you might say, okay, like, all right, well, piano, there’s actually a lot of metaphors. So maybe I’m giving a presentation at work. Could I give a metaphor about how this project that I’m working on is kind of like learning the piano? And then I can. What that does is, one, when you start talking about piano, because it’s something you’re already naturally passionate about, you’re going to be more passionate in your presentation because you get to talk about something you care about, where this project you might be like, so, so on, but you’re like, I love piano.

And so, like, hey, I was just playing the saying, etcetera and I realized there’s a lot of parallels. And then, hey, you know, so just like, you’ve got to learn chords in this project. We’ve got to learn blank. And it’s kind of like this song and that song or whatever. Like, now for the audience, it’s also more engaging because they’re like, I thought he was going to talk about some spreadsheet. Now he’s talking about piano. That’s kind of interesting. If you even then brought in a piano and played like, hey, here’s a short piece. Like, you could go even like, more extreme, depending on the project, etcetera, you may not be able to do that, but it’s now making things more interesting. And that’s what an enthusiast can be really good at, is not only is it finding more things that they enjoy, but also be more intentional about how can I take the things that I do enjoy and combine it with the other stuff that I have to do that’s good?

Jellis Vaes
It’s also a lot more personal. Right?

Andrew Tarvin
Oh, for sure. Now you become like, oh, hey, I know this thing about you is that you like to play like, rather than you just being this random cog in the machine of a project manager that sends me these emails that I have to delete all the time. It’s like, oh, wait, no, that person’s like an actual human, and they like piano. And if you like piano as well, you’ve now got a connection. Or maybe they really like, maybe they’re not a piano person, but they really love saxophone or what now, now music becomes a more broad thing that they can come and talk about as a human as opposed to just a co worker.

Jellis Vaes
This, what you just said is something that a friend of mine recently did with, with his PhD defense. He loved climbing and he just placed that in his presentation. Some figures climbing on, on letters and, and stuff. So. And it really was an incredible presentation. And people. Yeah, it felt more personal. So it was not super boring. It was more personal.

Andrew Tarvin
Exactly. So, yeah. And one of the, one of the stories that people often comment about from. So I’ve given two TEDx talks, and the first one is on humor in the workplace. And in that one, I talk about my, you know, I interned at Procter and gamble before I graduated from university and then had to give a presentation to a review board to basically. And the review board was reviewing my work from an internship. And then they were gonna, they basically decided whether or not I would be given a full time offer after, after the end of the summer. And so going into that presentation, I. The first draft of my presentation was your very standard, kind of like, here’s my bullet point list of the things that I did. And I realized that I was, like, bored while giving the presentation. So it meant that I was like, I don’t want to. Like, they’re gonna be bored just listening to me. Like, first I did this, and then I did this. And so I decided to tell the story of my presentation, my internship, and for whatever reason, I don’t remember the exact reason for it, I decided to make my PowerPoint slides in Microsoft paint. And so I painstakingly handdrew…

Jellis Vaes
That’s where art is created.

Andrew Tarvin
…and they were terribly drawn. They were awful, but funny. I think the audience laughs. So I was like, before we jump into the actual specifics of it, I thought I’d tell you the story of my internship. And then, boom, I hit that first slide, and it’s Microsoft paint. Me having written varian bad rand, hiding the story of my internship or whatever. And the review board loved it. They, like, I met one of the. I got the job offer. I met one of the review board members, like, three years later, and he was like, I still remember your presentation. Like, you’re the only person who has ever used Microsoft paint. I’ve been to a lot of review board. Like, it was something different. It’s something that stood out. And for me, it made the presentation way more fun to do. And that’s this dual benefit, I think, of humor, is that, you know, humor. There are these 30 plus benefits to using humor in the workplace, and people can find those on the website or just google it, etc., if you want to. Like, what are the actual benefits of it? There’s tremendous. There’s a lot of research out there about it.

But even if none of them were true, and if humor only made you a little bit happier, if it only made you happier in the things that you had to do, things like what you going into the workplace. If it only did that, wouldn’t it still be worth it to learn just to bring a little bit more joy in your life? And I think so, and that’s why I’m so passionate about it. And that’s why we work, to, like, share this message to people, because it’s like, yeah, I think we all work far too hard and far too much in our life to not enjoy it.

Jellis Vaes
I agree. And especially if you think about, I mean, stress. People are stressed out so much these days, and humor could relieve stress. Right. Like you said. So, yeah. Having that more in the workplace would be amazing. I’m just thinking about time. How much? How many more minutes?

Andrew Tarvin
I’ve got about five more minutes.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah, five more. Okay. I had so many more questions for you, but let’s see, maybe. If it’s five more, maybe we could wrap up a bit.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah, we can start to wrap up and, yeah, we can always do a part two in the future.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah. So you’ve shared a couple of things, right, about humor now that people could use, if people want to take it a bit more further after this interview. This is not a very original question, but what are some resources maybe that you could recommend? Any of your books that you wrote or any other books that you could recommend, videos, podcasts, anything?

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah, I would say. I mean, our whole goal is to try to help people to find, discover, and use more humor in their life. And so we’ve got a bunch of free resources on the website humorthatworks.com. As I mentioned, you can take the quiz and find out what your Persona is. And then following on the quiz, there’s also some resources to think. Oh, if you are an enthusiast, here are some things to think about and to follow up on. Yeah, we’ve got a couple of books out there. We’ve got a couple of online courses. Of course, we’ve got one on one coaching, etcetera. All that kind of stuff is on the website. I would say if for whatever reason, you hate my voice or the way that I present things, and you’re like, but you do like the idea, there’s a number of other things that you can do. I do think for me, especially as an introvert, taking an improv class was massively beneficial. And so you can always just Google improv class in whatever area you are, and most places have it. There also are some online improv classes that you can take.

I think in person it’s a little bit better, but you can certainly take some virtually. And I would start to think about just a couple of habits. A couple of habits that I think can really help. Is one, keeping a humor notebook, or if you’re already writing a diary or a journal every day, just kind of make a special note to also add what made me laugh or smile today as part of that process. And that’ll already start to trigger some of these changes. Another one that I have, particularly for the work day when I was still at PNG, is to try to drive one smile per hour. Per hour is what we is like. The habit that I cause, like, every hour of the day, try to think of one thing that you can do to add a little bit of levity that’s going to make you smile or someone else. So if you’re getting ready to go into a really long meeting and you’re the presenter, what’s one thing you can do to make it? At least one thing that you can do to make it more exciting. Or if you’re getting ready to sit down and be a participant in a really long 1 hour meeting, what’s one thing that you can do?

Andrew Tarvin
Oh, maybe you can do visual note taking, or you can play buzzword bingo or whatever it is to kind of keep yourself engaged. So it’s like developing that habit and having that drumbeat, you’ll start to realize how many really small but really effective ways there are to add a little bit more levity in life. And maybe one of them is only a 32nd, 62nd, 92nd thing, but you start to build it up and develop it as a habit, then you start to change a tremendous amount that you are, the amount that you’re having, you know, experiencing joy and positivity in your life.

Jellis Vaes
Yeah. Good. All right, Andrew, you know, thank you so much for wanting to do this interview and for making the world more funnier, happier, and healthier. You know, there is one final end question that I ask all my guests that I would love to ask you, but before I do that, what is the best place for listeners to check out your work or to connect with you?

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah. So, humorthatworks.com is the best place for all the resources. Kind of the hub for a lot of the things that we’re talking about. You can also connect with me directly at pretty much all social media at Drew Tarvin. So. D R E W T A R, V, as in Victor, I N. So on Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn. LinkedIn is probably the thing that I’m on the most, but, yeah, pretty much all social media. Just so people have a question or they want to reach out, feel free to do so that way.

Jellis Vaes
All right. So for people listening, I will add that all in the show notes, the last question or the final end question that I have for you, and you can literally make it super short or as extensive as you want. From everything that you’ve seen, experienced, lived, and learned in your life, what is the one thing that you know to be true?

Andrew Tarvin
One thing that I know to be true is that you are responsible for your own happiness. I don’t think you control it necessarily. Right. And I’m not talking about necessarily, like, if there’s chemical imbalances and things like that. But I am talking about like, in the sense that, like, it’s not up to anyone else to make sure that you are happy, right? It’s your responsibility to try to find the things that, if you’re in a situation where you’re unhappy, to try to find ways to make a little bit better or to improve the situation, et cetera, and other people can absolutely contribute to that or detract from it. Some people can make it really easy. Some people can make it really, really hard. But ultimately, at the end of the day, it is your responsibility. And I think that humor can go and incredibly long way to improving it. Because humor isn’t about pretending like everything is amazing when it’s not, right. That’s what that’s toxic positivity. That’s like just as bad as constant negativity. Humor is simply about saying, how do I make whatever the situation is right now a little bit better?

Jellis Vaes
Andrew, thanks. Thank you once again for being here on the show.

Andrew Tarvin
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Jellis Vaes
All right. And that concludes this interview here with Andrew Tarvin. I hope that you learned something you know from Andrew, from this interview about humor and how to add it more into your life. Now, to find any of the resources mentioned by Andrew, check out the show notes, which are located in the description of this episode. Or you can also go directly to theipsproject.com podcast and search for Andrew. I do hope that I get the chance to welcome you again here on the podcast soon. And of course, don’t forget to subscribe and to leave a rating. If you could take just a moment of your time, it would help me to invite more incredible guests like Andrew here on the podcast. So in a way, you would also be helping yourself, right? To have more awesome guests here on the show to learn from. So if you do take the time to do that, truly thank you for taking the time with that. I again hope to see you on another episode. This is your host, Jellis Vaes, signing off.

The IPS Academy
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If you feel that you’ve gained some insights and lessons from this interview, and you are curious to see what else we offer at The IPS Project, check out The IPS Academy, where we offer online courses taught by guests here on The IPS Podcast.

Learn more about essential life topics, such as mental health, relationships, the mind, and the body and the brain, through fun and interactive courses. Simply go to TheIPSProject.com/academy.

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We have countless reviews from other students so you can see what others think, and there is a 30-day money-back guarantee if you end up not liking the course. Again, check them out at TheIPSProject.com/academy.

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Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer

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Jellis Vaes