Podcast Episode 38: LOL-ing with Gelotologist Barry Taylor

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In this episode, Jes interviews Gelotologist Barry Taylor. Barry uses Laugh Therapy to enhance individuals’ well-being, productivity, and overall quality of life. The healing power of laughter often has a significant influence on both physical and mental health.

Your Invite:

Create a Laughter Bank and pay into it regularly (this idea comes from Stephanie Davies’s book, Laughology)

Find Barry Online:


Mentioned in this Podcast:

Auto-Transcript (Not Yet Corrected by a Human)

Jessika Jake (00:00:09) – Hey everyone, it’s JessiKa Jake here and this is the Better and Betterer podcast. I’m here with Barry Taylor today. He is a Gelotologist and he’s from LaughTherapy.LOL, How perfect is that? <laugh>,

Barry Taylor (00:00:26) – Not 1 0 1. People put that and can’t find me. No. Lol

Jessika Jake (00:00:30) – <laugh>. No joke. I once heard a woman’s call. She, this isn’t even a joke, she said, I called the IT department. I told them I understand my password is asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk. But it’s not working.

Barry Taylor (00:00:45) – <laugh>.

Jessika Jake (00:00:47) – Yes. So lol. Not 1 0 1.

Barry Taylor (00:00:49) – Lol. Yeah. <laugh>.

Jessika Jake (00:00:52) – That was not a joke. Anyway, so, yeah Gelotology… you should explain this.

Barry Taylor (00:01:03) – Gelotology is the word that I use. It makes me sound important and stopped me from getting imposter syndrome. Um, Gelotology is, uh, the study of the, the study of laughter and its therapeutic benefits. So, Gelotology, that comes from the root word Gelos. And Gelos was the ancient Greek God of laughter, the personification of laughter. Gelotology comes from Gelos, not to be confused with Gelatto, who was the ancient Roman god of creamy, delicious ice cream desserts. So, yeah, not to be confused with that. So yeah, I study laughter and humor from a therapeutic perspective, but I also work with, businesses, healthcare, education, looking at how they can leverage laughter, humor, play into their businesses, into learning, into healthcare and recovery. Um, and yeah, that’s what I do. <laugh>, it’s a very unique job, isn’t it, really?

Jessika Jake (00:02:05) – A great job, right? Why do we pick these jobs that stink when we could have a job that? well,

Barry Taylor (00:02:10) – That’s my Ikigai. You’ve come across Ikigai before…. the Japanese thing of discovering what your life’s purpose is. Yes. And I sat down and did a little bit of that and looked at what my skills were in and what, and what was interested in and what was, what I could make profit from. And it just sat there in the middle, in the sweet spot. But that’s what I need to do. Something around that. And I’ve found the title for it now and I’m forging a career <laugh>.

Jessika Jake (00:02:36) – Excellent. Excellent. So that’s great. So you, you were saying you’re looking at the health benefits of this and is there little bits of science or physiology or whatever that you could share with us?

Barry Taylor (00:02:56) – Yeah, yeah. Right. Let me give you a few, a, a few little facts. Okay. So, I look at it from the physiological side, the physiological benefits of laughter, the psychological benefits of laughter, and the social and emotional effects of laughter as well. So starting with physiological, a few little things. Um, laughter lowers bad cholesterol by 66%, um, but it also raises good cholesterol by 26%. It, uh, increases blood flow by 22%, whereas stress decreases blood flow by 35%. Blood vessels widen by 50% When we laugh, um, which aids in blood flow and oxygenation, um, it strengthens our breathing and our lung function. It increases the number of natural virus killing cells. It raises our disease fighting immunoglobulins by 14%. And it activates pro, uh, protective cells or t-cells or killer cells, which help fight viruses. Um, none of these are panacea. They’re not laughter’s not gonna cure you.

Barry Taylor (00:04:04) – And if someone’s, you know, someone’s got diabetes, give them insulin. Don’t just stand over them and laugh at them cause it’s just, they’re not gonna be cured by it. Um, but there’s, there’s so many laughter benefits physiologically, but also from a mental health perspective as well. Um, when we’re stressed, we release chemicals in the brain. Um, cortisol, epinephrine, which is adrenaline growth hormone, and all of those make tense and creates stress and anxiety when we laugh, our receptors lock off. And what we in turn also then start to reduce our positive endorphins. Um, serotonin, uh, dopamine, oxytocin, lots and lots of positive, uh, gr um, gamma waves as well, which is similar to what’s produced when we meditate. And all of those have the opposite effects. So there’s lots of kinda mental health benefits when we laugh. One of the things I discovered in my research with, which I think is fascinating, is that although we can hear when someone’s fake laughing, our brain can’t tell the difference when we fake laugh.

Barry Taylor (00:05:06) – So you, you can fake it to make it. And it obviously doesn’t feel the same as mirthful laughter. Um, but the fact that you can just wake up in the morning not feel great, but just laugh anyway, and your brain will knock off those stress chemicals and release all those positive endorphins is quite good. And often when you fake it, you tend to make it later as well. So it’s a good one. If you wake up in the morning, you’re feeling really stressed, I often say if you go to the toilet, flush the toilet and wash your hands and wash your wash, you washing your hands laugh at the same time and you’ve given yourself those 20 seconds of endorphins that might set you up for the next couple of hours.

Jessika Jake (00:05:44) – That’s so cool.

Barry Taylor (00:05:46) – Wow. So yeah, lots and lots of health benefits there.

Jessika Jake (00:05:51) – Yeah. Now, I’m fascinated by the, “If you laugh, your body doesn’t know you’re faking it.” And that’s really probably the only “fake it till you make it”.” that works then.

Barry Taylor (00:06:00) – Yeah.

Jessika Jake (00:06:01) – I was in a group and they told everyone to laugh. It was at some other kind of seminar. It wasn’t like a laughter thing and of course you’re faking it at first. But then what I found was the guy in front of me, some stranger, the tips of his ears were turning right red. I thought that was like hilarious. And then I was like really laughing. And, so not only is it like gonna help you whether or not you get to that point of real laughter, it’s just gonna help at any rate. I’ve never heard that before. That’s super. Yeah.

Barry Taylor (00:06:31) – I went to a Laugher Yoga training. I don’t whether you are familiar, whether you are, your listeners are familiar, but I went to a, a thing called Laughter Yoga, um, and it was started off by a medical doctor in Mumbai called Dr. Madan Kataria and himself and his wife who was a yoga teacher, had discovered that there was lots of health benefits to yoga, but also to laughter in, in recovery. And he set up a, a laughter club in a park and they’d meet at, at lunchtime and they’d just laugh for the sake of it — for health reasons rather than because anything was funny. And the whole thing took off and there’s now something like 15,000 laughter yoga clubs around the world in 150 countries. And that’s all centered around this idea of, of fake it to make it. Yeah. And I went to one of those and um, felt incredibly self-conscious to start with.

Barry Taylor (00:07:16) – Often people that go to these things only ever go once. Um, cause you go and you feel like a bit strange with strangers and you’re laughing and there’s nothing really that we’re laughing at and you kind of put this barrier up. But what I found really interesting was after about five or 10 minutes, people just were naturally laughing at each other. And you got those human connections that people were starting to make then, and where everybody wasn’t really talking at the start and feeling a little bit self-conscious by the end, everybody was having copy chatting, laughing together. Because a big part of laugh is that connection that you have. It’s a language, um, that transcends language really, you know, words. Um, so yeah, fake it to make it, if you don’t, if you’re not feeling Merle, then just laugh for the sake of it. Start with a smile <laugh>

Jessika Jake (00:08:04) – And if they’re coming there a little bit stressed out and they’re a little scared cause it’s something new and they’re in that sympathetic nervous system state. But then now you’re laughing and laughter just brings you right up to that ventral vagal state — the social engagement system. Karyn Buxman did How Humor Saved the World, talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s available on TED Talks. But so now, yeah, now I can just see it. So now you’re actually in that physiology of safety and connection and that you’re connecting, um, and then really laughing and it’s just a self-fulfilling, um, whatever you call it… prophecy, <laugh> .. a snowball effect.

Barry Taylor (00:08:44) – Yeah. That’s it. It’s the snowball effect. I often, I often describe it as that cuz it’s contagious. It’s a little bit like a yawn, you know, somebody in the room yawns and a you yawn that sets somebody else off. And it’s got that kind of contagious effect. And I often say that in, in a work environment, you’ve always got that one. Um, who’s a bit of a, I call them a mood hoover or a a, you know, a a laughter, a um, a mood vampire. Someone who sucks the, the energy out of the room. Um, it can be quite corrosive and, and toxic and laughter has the opposite effect when you’re around people that are laughing. It, it spreads. And, um, I’ve walked into rooms before and people have been laughing and I have no idea what it is that they’re laughing at, but you just join in. You, you, you’ve, you’re laughing at the way that they’re laughing and the fact that they’re, you know, in tears laughing. Um, it has that contagious effect. And I, that’s what I love most about it is that once you’ve got people going, they’ll hone on anything just to carry on laughing. It’s brilliant.

Jessika Jake (00:09:44) – Yeah. To be the, I love that. Be the opposite of the mood hoover…

Barry Taylor (00:09:49) – Grumble Stiltskin.

Jessika Jake (00:09:50) – Oh my gosh, Grumble Stiltskin. I’ve never heard of these <laugh> I’ve heard of energy vampire… <laugh>. And we know that there are emotional contagions and we’re picking up on the cues of everyone else around us, what’s going on in their body. And so, um, yeah, you’re just like offsetting all of that. Yeah. Invincibility of humor. How cool is that? Great. So you go and run, you run workshops and stuff?

Barry Taylor (00:10:23) – I, yeah, I, I do a little bit of all things really. I started, I started the company that I, that I’ve set up called Laugh Therapy, in late 2018. And I built a website, did all my research, created some instructional design, drew on all of my background as an educator and, and a drama teacher and a youth worker, and found all these different types of games and applications for what I wanted to do. And then was just about to go out and deliver some workshops and then COVID hit and, and it was like, I’d only got really a few workshops in the bag and, and then every, everything stopped. Now I’ve got, I’ve got COPD, so um, I’ve got a respiratory condition. Part of the reason why I enjoy laughter. it’s good for my lungs as well.

Barry Taylor (00:11:11) – Um, but it was one of those situations, particularly in the UK where, um, they said, if you’ve got a particular health condition, you need to, uh, shield. So everybody had to stay in, let’s keep, keep the ill people in. Um, so I, I couldn’t go out and certainly not create workshops where people were laughing in each other’s faces. So, um, I tried to do some zoom, uh, work, but that didn’t have the same kind of connection as, as being in the same room as people. And that was a fascinating experiment, seeing how people behave differently in a, in a zoom setting when it comes to laughter. Um, so it allowed me the space really to do my research to come up with some activities and so on and think about what services and products I wanted to offer. Um, so in the last 18 months to two years, I’ve, I’ve been going back out again and, and delivering workshops.

Barry Taylor (00:11:58) – Um, but I’m also really interested in, um, working in schools with, with teachers. Um, there’s a lot of research to show that, that laughter can aid in, not only in the engagement of learning, but also in their attainment as well. That the fact that, um, when we laugh, um, the, our, the area that deals with stress in our brain in the prefrontal cortex, um, sits right next door to where short term memory is. So kids who are, um, studying before an exam and they’re, you know, going through all their revision notes, if they go into an exam and they’re anxious and stressed, the ability to pull that short-term memory to the fore and answer the questions becomes far more difficult. And I found that quite interesting. And there were a number of studies that showed that, um, students that took part, um, in laughter programs before an exam perform 10 to 15 times a percent better than those that didn’t.

Barry Taylor (00:12:55) – So that, that’s kind of piqued my interest. So I’m quite keen to get out into schools as well. Businesses seem fascinated by it. And I, I’ve had a number of healthcare process that have contacted me to go and do workshops and talks, which I thought, that’s great. I wanna work with kids. I like working with kids. Uh, I saw myself going around hospital wards with people that are long-term illness and actually every healthcare trust that’s come to me so far it’s been for the staff because they’ve had such a beating in over the past couple of years that they wanted it from a morale boost in team building, um, respite kind of perspective. Um, but that’s been fascinating as well. So where the work’s coming from is really diverse. Um, and I think at some point I’ll need to <laugh> I need to focus it on one thing. Um, but yeah, a bit of everything and I’m finding a TED talk for later this year as well. Great. So maybe a bit of public speaking, who knows? Yeah,

Jessika Jake (00:13:52) – Absolutely. That would be so cool. You’re making me think. Um, I used to teach for the Princeton Review and teach the MCAT classes and it’s this long like eight hour test. So imagine like you go to them an hour before their test, you do the humor workshop. I don’t know what it’s like now cause we’re going back to the late nineties, but it was, you know, they have these exams past guarantees that your score’s gonna go up this much. And then it’s just like, well boom, you’re going up 10 to 15% even higher cause you are doing this (um, wait, I’m gonna say it wrong. So I wrote it down) this Gelotology.

Barry Taylor (00:14:31) – Gelotology

Jessika Jake (00:14:32) – Have Harry Taylor doing Gelotology right before you walk into the exam.

Barry Taylor (00:14:38) – I was chatting to a guy, um, who’s uh, he’s doing his doctorate and he’s a director of education for an educational trust. And he was fascinated by this idea of me going into schools and said, you know, how are you gonna measure this cuz that’s, this seems fascinating. And I said, I don’t know, I can tell you when their exam results come back and we can see whether it worked or not. You know, maybe we should just have two groups and see how they did.

Jessika Jake (00:15:02) – The trial group. I’d feel bad for that other group!

Barry Taylor (00:15:04) – Yeah, well I actually, I’m more concerned about the fact that I’ve probably distracted a bunch of kids before they go into their exam and they perform worse. That’ll be even worse. <laugh>

Jessika Jake (00:15:13) – No, all the general test prep stuff is like, “Don’t study the night before the test, get a good night’s sleep.” So if they’re laughing it’s not like you’re gonna push all the knowledge out of their brain cause you, you made them laugh before the test. Um, no, I think it’s super because it is, it’s getting their whole entire body into that physiology of safety and connection.

Barry Taylor (00:15:40) – Oh, happiness, serenity. I’m fine. Exactly.

Jessika Jake (00:15:44) – Because stress cuts down oxygen flow to the prefrontal cortex, or diminishes it greatly. So if they’re stressed out, that’s why I always, I always, I still work in test prep, not the same kind of stuff, but a lot of it is confidence when a lot of students who like take me up on doing a call, it’s to just, it’s like, uh, the pep talk. It’s not, “Oh what is this answer to this question?” It’s more like they’re nervous and, and all that. So, uh, yeah, it’s huge. I mean, do it for the little kids too before those state tests.

Barry Taylor (00:16:13) – Oh, I, I’m starting with them Jessika. They’re an easier gig straight in with the adolescent. I used to work with 11 to year, uh, age 11 to 18. And to be honest, I was, I was pushed more towards the exam groups anyway. So the majority of students I worked with were 14 to 18. Well, the, the sexual tension in the room, you could cut it with a knife. It was, and and there was a lot of resistance there to doing certain types of activities. Cause I used to, I used to be a drama teacher so we’d do a lot of improv and stuff like that and the kids that subscribe to those classes loved it. But if they didn’t wanna do it or they didn’t wanna be there, the idea of performing in front of others, the barrier goes straight up. Yeah. Um, so I thought, I don’t wanna go straight in with this laughter therapy stuff. Yeah. With a bunch of kids that aren’t receptive. So I’m starting with the little ones. My daughter’s eight and I’m starting with that age group first. Cause they laugh anyway. They just wanna laugh though. I’ll start with them. <laugh>.

Jessika Jake (00:17:10) – Oh that’s so good. I mean, I’m just smiling listening to you. I feel bad if like, while you’re talking about working with terminally ill people, I was probably smiling cuz I’m just so happy to be here.

Barry Taylor (00:17:20) – Well this is, this was a strange one because I, I was contacted by uh, health trust who said, um, we run three hospices. Uh, are they called hospices in the US So for palliative care? Yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and we’d like you to run a workshop, would you be interested in doing it? And everything that I’ve had so far has really been bespoke. They’ve come to me and say, well, can you do this? And I’ll say, yeah, what do you want solving? I’ll, I’ll put something together. So they asked me if I would do it and I planned this workshop and I, they booked this venue and I thought, wow, you know, gonna get all these people to this venue. Well, you know, and I got there and it was the staff, there was not a single person in palliative care there, which I was relieved about.

Barry Taylor (00:17:59) – And I’m sure my insurance broker was incredibly relieved as well. Um, but it was purely because their jobs are so stressful they deal with, with, you know, mortality on a daily basis and they needed something that was just gonna lift their mood. So their needs were really from a, we need a bit of murth background, you know, whereas fr from the education perspective, it’s looking at something to do with memory and attainment. Um, if I’m working with businesses, it’s about teams and toxic work environments. It’s fascinating how much laughter taps into so many different things. And that’s what I’m discovering at the moment. I don’t really know who to go with first because this, it seems to, you know, compliment so many things.

Jessika Jake (00:18:41) – I think the way I look at it now is like, play is the way adventure play fun. Like whether you’re learning, whether you’re growing, everyone always says, oh, it’s, you have to have discomfort and it has to be hard. And like, it really doesn’t, you could just go out there like, I’m gonna yeah, pass this up royally, but here I come, you know, and, and and, and look at it that way. And I did that once in a yoga class. I accidentally went to the wrong class and this was like, they did crazy things with these sliders on the floor. Like just ridiculous things. And I was like, oh no, I’m in the wrong class <laugh>. But I said, you know what? I’m gonna fail triumphantly. I, the person next to me at the end said, wow, you brought the best energy to this class.

Jessika Jake (00:19:25) – I was so glad I was next to you. But then also I was too busy being around. I’m a good curse an asshole that when he said handstands, I threw my body up against the wall. I’ve never done that before in my life. I had no fear just because I was so busy, like being an asshole, basically <laugh>. Cause like in a fun way, right? Like I’m just, I like imagine like being on stage with like the royal ballet or something and you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re like, well I’m just gonna be an idiot, you know, and embrace kid. That was me in this class. But that’s how I did my first like handstand against the wall mind you. But it never would’ve happened if I was like, oh, I have to grow through, through struggle and fear and hard and out of my comfort zone. It’s so scary. It’s like I pulled out the adventure zone. Like if you’re not actually gonna die out of your comfort zone, it’s just the adventure zone. And so like that’s why I love what you’re doing because it’s, you’re giving them that no matter again, which industry, how old they are, whatever.

Barry Taylor (00:20:29) – Everybody likes to laugh. Yeah. That’s the thing, isn’t it? I went to a network meeting, um, the night before last, uh, in my town, um, just to kind of see what everybody else, I knew it wasn’t gonna be a business to business thing. These were all entrepreneurs just starting out. There was nothing that I was really gonna be able to offer them. But it was nice to hear other people’s stories and it was, it was fascinating how many people turned around and said, you do what? Oh, that’s really fascinating. Cause everybody likes to laugh. It wasn’t anything that they could apply to what they were doing. They wanted to go and talk to the person that could do s e o or you know, something else <laugh>. Um, but it was, it was just that thing of, oh, you make people laugh. And I said, no, I don’t make people laugh and I’m, I go and find a standup comedian.

Barry Taylor (00:21:09) – I’m, I’m not good at that. I’ve facilitated it. That’s what I do. I I try and create environments and activities and strategies that’ll hopefully inject more humor and laughter and happiness in a workplace or a healthcare environment because we work that, like you were kind of hinted at it before you, if the work feels fun, you get more done. Uh, that’s what I’ve discovered. Um, and so if you can create an environment that that’s less toxic and more the connections form and you know, Judy from accounts is talking to so and so from HR who didn’t talk before, um, you’ve got those connections then and, and people enjoy the work then. Um, yeah.

Jessika Jake (00:21:47) – And it seemed OK to have fun. I, I was filling in for someone at a marketing place. She was going out on maternity leave and I saw her talking to her clients and talking to everybody and she was just having a ball and laughing and I was like, wow, this is great. Like, I’ve always felt like you had to have this level of professional and serious. Right. And I just like took the cue from, from her and I was just like, if that’s what flies here set up. Right. And it was great. And, and you can be professional and laugh and smart and

Barry Taylor (00:22:21) – Absolutely right.

Jessika Jake (00:22:22) – Like, and yeah,

Barry Taylor (00:22:23) – Take, take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously is what I always try to explain to people. You know, it doesn’t mean that you’re goofing off because you’re, you’re laughing and you’re enjoying it. Right. You, you know, it’s, it’s really important to play. You’re more creative when you are.

Jessika Jake (00:22:37) – Right, right, right. Yeah. And so that brings me to another question then on like above the line, below the line kind of humor, right? Like, so I’m work, I’m still professional, but I’m, I’m open to laughing and fun and, but you know, I always look at like the positive humor, like the laugh with me or laugh at something, but not like at the expense of someone else. And I know there’s people maybe in the workplace who are like, I’m hilarious and they, I’m an equal opportunity in Salter and I’m, you know, like Yeah, yeah. Right. Like, so what are your thoughts on, on that or if there’s any research on on those?

Barry Taylor (00:23:13) – Yeah, there is. I mean, I’ve not got it to hand, but there is, there’s quite a lot of research, particularly I found this in with regards to education. Um, that the majority of the laughter or humor that’s created in a classroom from a teacher perspective, it was something like around about 40% of it is disparaging humor. So it’d be a sarcastic comment between, you know, to a student at the back that gets everybody in the class laughing at that one child and makes the teacher feel like they’re really funny and so on. Um, so it’s, it’s, it’s cutting through that. And I think initially explaining that we’re here to laugh, but these are the different types of laughter and um, what’s your, what’s your laughter trigger? What’s your taste in humor? I could stand there and tell a joke, but it might not land with a lot of you cuz everybody’s got a different taste in humor.

Barry Taylor (00:24:00) – Yeah. So getting people to recognize that we all have different tastes and humor and that there are positive forms of humor, but there’s also humor that really is, it’s the only purpose it serves is to belittle somebody else or it’s, you know, sarcastic humor and so on. Um, and it has its place, but, um, if you are trying to build teams and create, you know, positive group dynamics or whatever it is that the focus might be for a workshop, it’s gotta be, um, you’ve gotta make people aware that that’s, in this context, it’s not appropriate. And I think some people don’t realize the impact that ha that has, they’ll say something thinking that, um, you know, I was only joking, that’s often the response, oh, I was only joking. But not realize how that’s landed with the person who’s receiving that.

Jessika Jake (00:24:43) – Right. So

Barry Taylor (00:24:44) – Yeah, I I’m very tuned into creating an environment where people feel safe. Um, and that really comes from my background as, as a drama teacher as well. I knew that the, I would get the best results from my students if at the start they knew that they were in a safe environment. They could stand on stage, they could perform, they could, um, reveal a bit of their soul and that nobody was gonna laugh at them or gossip in the front row of the audience and so on. Yeah. Um, so I am quite tuned in on that and, um, yeah, I, I, I do come down on people quite heavily if I can sense that there’s a bit of, you know, a bit of that going on

Jessika Jake (00:25:22) – <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. No, I don’t think that’s like real humor when it’s mean and sarcastic and No good, good. But I do

Barry Taylor (00:25:30) – Think, I do think you can, I do think you can laugh at taboo subjects, serious subjects providing that you are laughing at the, the topic and the subject and not the victim of it. I think it’s how I’ll review it. So I think that there are edgy comedians out there who I have absolutely no PR problem with. I know they’re not for HR <laugh>, um, not, not for watching in, in, you know, in the office space. Um, but I do think there is that fine line between what’s acceptable humor because it detaches us from that serious issue and allows us to wrestle back the control. And I’m laughing at that serious thing, but then there’s also laughing at the victim of that serious thing. And I think there are two very different things that, um, that it’s easy to be blurred between.

Jessika Jake (00:26:19) – Yeah. I, I was getting on an airplane once and this one woman was telling me how I think like, even, so this is kind of negating what I just said about the negative humor, but she was saying, or it’s just like a little slightly different how like that playful teasing is actually shows that you’re in the social group. So mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I would say that doesn’t have a place in like, like what you’re doing, but there is, I guess like, I felt like that once too, when someone, uh, dumped a bucket of water at me at camp, I was just like, oh good, he thinks I’m in, you know, like, yeah. Like I’m in his, his gang that he’ll pull this prank on me kind of thing. Um, but yeah, no, so it’s so fascinating. I guess there’s always like a little bit of a gray, uh,

Barry Taylor (00:27:03) – Yeah. Inclusivity is so important as well. I, I, I do have that is, that is something I’m quite passionate about. I, I think is is that feeling of, i, I always for the loneliest place in the world is outside of a circle and that you’ve got a group of people and they’re all there and they’re in and so on, and you are the one that’s outside. You are the one that the disco stood by the radiator waiting for someone to ask you to get up and dance. And it’s that kind of thing. Um, so having, creating an environment where everybody’s, I mean, when if I work with businesses, I always, um, speak to the head of HR or the head of the business and say, you have to be involved in this as well. It starts at the top. We have to break down that hierarchy because if they can’t laugh with you, you are part of the problem. It you, it is a them and us culture and they need to see you as a human. And then once, once we’re all on the same level, we can laugh together and that’s when the human connections start. So it’s breaking down those barriers, making people feel inclusive and not having that hierarchy there. Um, then you’ve got the connections that you, you’re seeking because it really is about communication and connection, I think laughter.

Jessika Jake (00:28:09) – Yeah, yeah. And even trust, right? Like, um, yeah, like interpersonal trust, not just like, well I trust this person to steer the ship as a CEO professionally, but like to get that humanity and then be like, oh, I actually like, feel connected to this person and maybe trust them too. Yeah. Well, so when you say you facilitate the, the groups and you’re not there to like be the standup comedian, what kind of exercises do you do with them?

Barry Taylor (00:28:43) – Um, initially, like some of the things I said, trying to get them to see that, um, you can take your work seriously, but you don’t have to take yourself seriously. So getting ’em to try and rediscover the child that’s inside them, which was really, that was really nice. Recently, the last workshop I did was, uh, um, a healthcare trust, uh, for nurses and midwives. And I used that phrase, you know, we we’re gonna try and bring that child within you out, and it’s cause a bunch of midwives in the corner found that really funny. And it wasn’t even the joke that was intended because that’s what they do every day, is trying to get the child inside out. Um, but it’s, it, it, it’s centered around that. So getting people and starting at a really basic level as well. So start with a smile. We’ll do kind of little drama game activities where we’re in a circle and you are making eye contact with someone and you smile and when they see you smile, we swap places and, and it’s getting the eye contact, the connection, the smile, and then building it up from there.

Barry Taylor (00:29:41) – Because I always think that laughter is a smile that a burst, it’s that thing of it just pops and, and it comes out in a, in a vocalized way. So starting at a really basic level and, and gradually building up. So we’re building connection, we’re building trust and then incorporating, um, play games, uh, jokes, puns, costume props, ah, um, mask work, um, music, uh, gibberish, silliness, absurdity, you know, throwing everything in. And, and depending on who I’m working with, it’ll be slightly different as well. So if I was working with a, you know, a bunch of serious businessmen, I mean, it might be interesting to see, you know, get the wigs out and the funny hats and the silly noses, but I often use that one more with the kids cuz they’ll find that, you know, more engaging. Um, but finding, um, looking for the fun and the funny in, in everyday situations as well.

Barry Taylor (00:30:35) – It’s, I I, I always find it’s really important as well when at the end of a workshop to leave them with something beyond just the memory of that one or two hours that we spent together. So leaving them with a, with a heap of strategies that they can use within the workplace setting afterwards. Um, so I encourage them to, uh, create like a laughter charter, um, and form what I call, um, uh, lap staff. So a group of people and, and the management have to be involved in that as well. Okay. Um, and it rotates that everybody from the top to the bottom is involved in that. Um, and they create, um, strategies and so on. Every month might just be one day a month where they have a, you know, a, a silly jumper day or something like that. Oh no. Cool. Um, just so they can create a bit of laughter. And it was great doing a workshop with a, a call center because, um, the people in the call center, they could do anything. Cause the person on the other end of the call can’t see that they’ve got, you know, a funny tie on or a silly nose or you know, a a a crazy colored wig on, but they all were on the joke, couldn’t, that just lifted the mood as well. I love that. So hauling on loads of different things.

Jessika Jake (00:31:43) – I know I asked you to like invite the audience to try something, but like, wouldn’t that be funny too for like the work from home people like myself to just be like, today I’m going to like, wear a costume and do my work. I did that once I found my kids, um, like some kind of costume they had for dance. I don’t know why I had it <laugh>, but I just like decided to wear it around the apartment I live would just be at my dogs. And it’s just fun, right? Like, here I am in like my daughter’s old recital costume, like <laugh>, nothing happens where like they have to come and break down the door and take me to the hospital. But that could be fun, right? To just dress up, um, on your own. Oh,

Barry Taylor (00:32:22) – Absolutely. I I, I always encourage people to be spontaneous, do something spontaneous. Like I often leave them with a, with a pack and it’s got like 101 different silly things that they can do and they can sift through and go, well, we’ll do that one today. And that, you know, at break time two people will have a wrestle in the coffee room or something. Um, but I, there’s one that I often do. I’ve got a, a red nose that I take when I’m working with kids and often just, and it embarrasses the kids no end. But I’ll put the, I’ll put the red nose and then I’m dropping the kids up at school and I’ll, I’ll be in the car and I’ll be driving and then we’ll stop at the, at the traffic lights and there’ll be people pull up alongside and I make sure that I don’t look across at them, I just look straight ahead as if nothing’s going on.

Barry Taylor (00:33:03) – Yeah. And the, the the looks you can see out your peripherals is people go, oh my God, why have that guy got a red nose and not acting like he’s got a red nose on as well? Um, and the kid’s like, yeah, take it off. You know, but it is something that will stay with someone and it might not have made them laugh and it probably wasn’t with the intention of making them laugh, but it gives them something to talk about later. And, you know, and it, it, it, it, it distracts and, and sometimes that’s what you want. You just want a dis a distraction, something that kind of takes you away from the mundane and puts you in the absurd for five minutes.

Jessika Jake (00:33:34) – Yeah, yeah. No, that’s beautiful. Um, so cool. So do you, do you have a, I know you’ll have a better suggestion than me for things that people could maybe try, try out to infuse their life with a little bit of this Of course. I’m gonna cheat again. <laugh>, geology. <laugh>.

Barry Taylor (00:33:53) – Yeah. Um, starting on a really basic level, gravitate towards laughter is the first thing that I would do because as, as I said before, the the, the brain can tell the difference between fake and um, genuine laughter. Um, but it is contagious. So what I often say is, if you can hear laughter, gravitate towards it straight away because you’ll get something from that. Even if you don’t get the joke, being around that environment will lift you. Um, I always say as well, look for the absurdity in every situation. Try and think like a child. Um, be inquisitive. Be playful, be excited by things, you know, open that drawer and get things out. I often think anybody that sees, um, a, a calendar or a t cozy or something like that and doesn’t put it on their head is not someone I wanna talk to. You know, if you see it, you wanna put it on your head,

Jessika Jake (00:34:43) – But don’t yell in it cuz you’ll strain your voice.

Barry Taylor (00:34:46) – Yes. <laugh>, you tried that one. Yeah. So be playful I think is the, is the thing as well.

Jessika Jake (00:34:56) – Pun like our only conversation is like sending each other memes and pun and stuff. <laugh>, right? Yeah. Like she’s my last staff <laugh>. Yeah.

Barry Taylor (00:35:06) – But that’s another one that you’ve tapped into there. I, I often say to people, and this is, this is an idea I’ve taken from a book that I read, so I, I can’t take credit for this one, but there’s a lady called Stephanie Davies who wrote a book called Laughology, which is fantastic book. Um, and one of the things that she said in that was, um, about creating, um, a laughter bank. Um, and it’s something that you play into on a regular basis and that you can make withdrawals from on a rainy day. And I thought that was a great analogy. And, and the idea being that if you see a funny meme or a viral video, a short or something like that, that you save it on your phone or, um, if you a particular comedian you want save it on your, on your box at home.

Barry Taylor (00:35:47) – Um, if you like comic books or poems or whatever it is that makes you smile, keep those things to hand, keep those things on your phone, on your Kindle or whatever because when you are feeling low, just that five minutes of looking through that, even if you’ve seen it 10 times before, it can take you back to that memory in the same way as you listen to a piece of music. It can replace you back in that time. Yeah. It can lift you momentarily out of that sorrow and put you back in a joyful state of mind again. So yeah, that’s a really gone as well. It is. Create a laughter bank and pay in regularly.

Jessika Jake (00:36:19) – That’s perfect. Wow. Yeah. I love it. And and remind me too, Ellen, it said that Ellen DeGeneres used to do a playful ritual before each show.

Barry Taylor (00:36:28) – Did she,

Jessika Jake (00:36:29) – She’d throw up a MIT in the air and try to catch it with her mouth. And so like, um, coming up up to your own playful ritual. But I, like I saw,

Barry Taylor (00:36:37) – I saw an episode of Ellen where she’d got, um, Michelle Obama and they were going around the sh a store. Um, and I, I can’t remember what they were in, in there for, but I think a lot of people were kind of, um, shocked at the fact that the president’s wife was, was walking around the store and Ellen was just such a pain in the ass all the way around just causing so many problems and acting like, you know, a two year old and, and Michelle Obama’s kind of, you know, saying, will you behave yourself? Will you get out of the cart? And all this kind of thing, <laugh>. And and I think that just that idea of being a child for a bit is such a fantastic thing. It’s, it’s really freeing, you know, to, to be really silly. Yeah. Um, and that’s what the catharsis I get from doing it actually. It’s, it’s not that thing of, um, of people laughing at you or, uh, in the same way if you are a comedian or an actor, it’s just that thing of, of laughing with people and coming away afterwards and feeling light and your, the blood’s coursing around your body. The endorphins are pumping. Yeah. Um, it stays with you for a long time afterwards. So I can come away from a workshop and feel absolutely great even if they’ve not enjoyed it at all or got anything from it. <laugh>,

Jessika Jake (00:37:46) – You’re walking. Yeah, I love it. Oh, I’m sure they all feel good though. That’s <laugh>. It’s such a, I hope so. <laugh>. I don’t think they could feel worse, let’s put it that way. Right?

Barry Taylor (00:37:59) – No, no.

Jessika Jake (00:38:00) – Even you’re nudging them in the right direction and, and sometimes people who are those funny duddies or what’d you say? The mood Hoovers. Um, it’s gonna dawn on them. They’re like, holy, that guy was onto something. I think I have, yeah. <laugh>,

Barry Taylor (00:38:15) – The Harry Potter fans like the Menta analogy as well. Somebody that flies into the room and sucks the soul out of you. Oh. Um, you get those in the workplace as well, you know, the Yeah. The mood vampires and the fun sponge is another one I like. Whoa,

Jessika Jake (00:38:31) – Look at <laugh>. And so, okay, so what would the word be for the opposite of that then?

Barry Taylor (00:38:42) – Oh, wow. Uh, Murth maker. Um, cool. Uh, what else will we, uh, uh, a laughter champion that’s not got the same ring as it? Um, I’ll have to come up with some, but Yeah,

Jessika Jake (00:38:54) – Yeah. Like those mo

Barry Taylor (00:38:57) – It’s gotta have an alliteration to it, hasn’t it? <laugh>,

Jessika Jake (00:38:59) – Right? Like the moot Hoover is no match for the fill in the blank.

Barry Taylor (00:39:03) – The, uh, uh, Mirth Meister.

Jessika Jake (00:39:07) – Ooh, yeah. Mirth Master. They’re, yeah. Oh wow. <laugh>. Oh wow. Yeah. It’s, it’s so good. Um, so easy, right? It’s, we we tend to wanna make things so hard, but just say, well, we said that right? Laughter is the best medicine. It’s–

Barry Taylor (00:39:29) – The best medicine. Yes. Unless you’ve been stung by a bee in which case get an EpiPen. That’s probably the best thing. Call an ambulance. Um, I tried that before. I stood over them and laughed and they died and it’s, it was terrible. So yeah. Oh no, <laugh>. Yeah. If you’ve got diabetes, don’t, don’t laugh at them. Get them some insulin.

Jessika Jake (00:39:49) – Do both, right? Like it’s, it compliments <laugh>. Yeah.

Barry Taylor (00:39:53) – I tell no, often people say, you know, laughter is the best medicine, but you know, are you really healing anybody? And I say, no, no, I’m not healing them. It’s complimentary. That’s what it is. Take your medicine, but, you know, laugh as well. You might feel a little bit better as well.

Jessika Jake (00:40:06) – What about Anatomy of an Illness though? He cured himself with laughter.

Barry Taylor (00:40:10) – Norman Cousins. Yeah. Yeah,

Jessika Jake (00:40:11) – Yeah, yeah. So you could, I mean, not saying don’t say you won’t, it could, it could heal you but also do what your doctor says. Disclaimer across the whole, don’t only enhance your healing exponentially no promises. <laugh>. Yeah, <laugh>. I’m not a medical professor though. <laugh>. Awesome. So great. Um, any news coming up or is this just people want you for the workshops? They just go to LaughTherapy.LOL?

Barry Taylor (00:40:50) – Uh, yeah. Um, yeah, I mean I’m working on this thing called Laughter for Learning, um, and I’m gonna take that in UK schools in September, October time. Um, but I’m really, uh, I’m <laugh> I’m trying to leverage LinkedIn at the moment. I’ve got a 30 day free trial on there, um, for Business Pro. So I’m, I’m literally knocking on the door of, of anybody that’s in my tribe. So I, that’s why I knocked on your dogs. I thought you are in the same arena as me, not with any of you to get in any business just to meet people that are doing anything in with regards to positive psychology, wellness, wellbeing, laugh. Um, so at the minute I haven’t really been touting my wares to anybody other than just to say, hi, I I do what you do, you know. Wow. Um, but eventually going out and doing some public speaking, um, abroad, one thing that I’ve learned from COVID is the world’s a much more connected place now and that I don’t have to physically go out and do workshops to places in within 25 miles a meet.

Barry Taylor (00:41:48) – I can do things virtually, I can talk virtually. Um, so yeah, it’s great when people kind of come onto the website or go onto my LinkedIn or whatever and make connections and chat and say, Hey, you know, would you, would you like to be like this? Would you like to be involved in my podcast or would you like to come speak on this? Um, somebody’s, uh, wants me to, who runs a, uh, peace charity or something in the Philippines has, has said, you know, I’d really like to come and do some speaking. I’m like, yeah, peace. You know, <laugh>. But it, it’s just great to connect with anybody. So that’s really, I’m seeing where it takes me now. I’m just going with the spontaneity it all and, um, yeah, if people wanna connect then I’ve got my website and I’ve got my LinkedIn and yeah, I, I’m happy to do anything with anybody

Jessika Jake (00:42:34) – And we’ll keep an eye out and it hit me up when you, when that launches for the, the Ted I’ll share Yeah. My stuff too. Yeah. Well this was so lovely. Thank you so much. I’m so chat. You did reach out and uh, we had a chance to talk. I mean you could, we have the audio version of the video version, but I’ve been like so lit up talking to you the whole time, so I’m sure you know, there’s no way people go to your workshop and they don’t get uplifted. Even like lit be impossible.

Barry Taylor (00:43:05) – Very

Jessika Jake (00:43:05) – Kind. Alright,

Barry Taylor (00:43:09) – Well I’m available for weddings, breakups call me.

Jessika Jake (00:43:14) – Wow. All incontinent and that, but awesome sauce. So, so we’ll have to do it again then too. So thank you for coming on. It’s a pleasure. Jessica, I’ll have links in the show notes, but LaughTherapy.LOL. How, how, how perfect is that everyone?

Barry Taylor (00:43:38) – That’s great. Thanks very much.