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  • Translator: Cihan Ekmekçi Reviewer: Leonardo Silva

  • Six years ago, I was sitting out with some friends in New York City

  • when I got a notification on my phone,

  • and I was surprised to find that I had a text message from my grandmother.

  • I was surprised because my grandmother at the time was 78 years old,

  • and she had never sent a text before.

  • And I will tell you the first text was adorable.

  • It read, "Dear Andrew, trying out texting. Love, your grandma."

  • I was like "Aw, she thinks it's a letter!"

  • So I sent her a message back,

  • "Hey grandma, it's a text. You don't have to include all that."

  • Her response was "Dear Andrew,

  • Okay. Love, your grandma."

  • My favorite part is it's always "Love, your grandma,"

  • like if it was "Love, grandma" I'd be confused.

  • If it was like, "Dear Andrew, have a good time in Texas. Love, grandma,"

  • I'd be like "Grandma? Who's grandma?"

  • (Laughter)

  • But my grandmother's still figuring some things out.

  • A couple of years ago, I went to Switzerland for work,

  • came back, sent a message to grandmother:

  • ''Hey grandma, just got back from Switzerland.''

  • Her response was, ''Dear Andrew, Switzerland? WTF.''

  • (Laughter)

  • All right, so I called my grandmother up,

  • ''Grandma, what do you think WTF means?''

  • And she's like,

  • ''Oh well, someone at Bridge told me it means 'Wow That's Fun.''

  • (Laughter)

  • I was like, ''That is exactly what it means.''

  • I'm not going to explain that to my grandmother.

  • But over time, I've come to realize

  • that I think the world would be a happier place

  • if more people thought WTF -

  • if more people were like my grandmother and thought, "Wow, that's fun."

  • Because in 2012, I left my corporate job at Procter and Gamble

  • to teach people about the value of humor.

  • I've worked with more than 35,000 people at more than 250 organizations

  • on how to be more productive, less stressed and happier, using humor.

  • But when people hear what it is that I do, they are a little bit skeptical,

  • (Laughter)

  • because no one thinks of humor as a bad thing.

  • Is there anyone here that doesn't like to laugh?

  • Anyone that's like "No, I hate feeling joy in my body?"

  • (Laughter)

  • No. People think of humor as a nice-to-have.

  • Oh, if I enjoyed my work more, if I had some fun, it would be great,

  • but if not, oh well.

  • The reality is that humor is a must-have.

  • In today's overworked, underappreciated, stress-filled, sleep-deprived culture,

  • humor is a necessity.

  • Because humor gets people to listen,

  • it increases long-term memory retention,

  • it improves understanding, aids in learning

  • and helps communicate messages.

  • It also improves group cohesiveness,

  • reduces status differentials, diffuses conflict, builds trust

  • and brings people closer together.

  • It does these things

  • (Laughter)

  • and this stuff and on and on and on ...

  • And it's all backed by research case studies and real-world examples.

  • (Laughter)

  • And these are some impressive benefits, right?

  • Humor can help you to look better, live longer and make it rain, right?

  • (Laughter)

  • Because people who use humor are paid more.

  • And anyone can learn these benefits.

  • Because when I talk to people about humor or comedy,

  • sometimes they're intimidated.

  • That event that I went to in Switzerland a couple years ago

  • that made my grandmother say WTF,

  • it was to speak at a conference.

  • And one of the other speakers at that conference was this gentleman.

  • His name is Kevin Richardson.

  • He's also known as the lion whisperer.

  • If you've ever seen that YouTube video of a lion hugging a dude, that's this guy.

  • He lives in South Africa,

  • he raises lions from when they're really young,

  • and they treat him as one of the pride.

  • He's basically the human version of Rafiki from The Lion King.

  • But Kevin and I were talking before the event.

  • He found out that I did stand-up comedy,

  • and he was like ''Huh, I could never do that, it's too scary.''

  • (Laughter)

  • I was like ''But you live with lions!''

  • (Laughter)

  • As if telling a joke is somehow scarier than living with lions.

  • (Laughter)

  • But so many people have this perception

  • as if the ability to make people laugh is somehow encoded in our DNA.

  • (Laughter)

  • But the reality is that humor is a skill,

  • and if it's a skill, that means we can learn it.

  • Because I am someone who has had to learn how to use humor.

  • Because I've done over a thousand shows

  • as a stand-up comedian, improviser, storyteller, spoken word artist.

  • I've spoken and performed in all 50 states in 18 countries and on one planet.

  • (Laughter)

  • I have fans in more than 150 countries,

  • based on people who have accidentally come to my website.

  • I've been called hilarious and smart, at least that's what my mom says.

  • (Laughter)

  • And I've been seen on The Daily Show with John Stewart, in the audience.

  • (Laughter)

  • I recently went to my high school reunion though,

  • and when people found out that I did stand-up comedy,

  • they said, ''But you're not funny.''

  • And in some ways they're right

  • because I would tell you that this is not the face of funny.

  • (Laughter)

  • There's a lot that's funny about this picture;

  • none of it is intentional.

  • (Laughter)

  • And I have the blonde tips up top like I wanted to be in a boy band.

  • The theme was ''Into a Dream,'' I am no one's dream -

  • (Laughter)

  • in this picture.

  • Because, growing up, I was never the life of the party or the class clown.

  • My senior year - my senior superlative, I was voted teacher's pet.

  • And this is going to surprise many of you, but it's because I am a nerd.

  • And if you're wondering what type of nerd,

  • the answer is yes; computer, math, sci-fi,

  • Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, Star Trek, Starbucks - all of them.

  • (Laughter)

  • But most specifically, I'm an engineer.

  • I went to the Ohio State University,

  • got a degree in computer science and engineering.

  • And after I graduated,

  • I started working at Procter & Gamble as an IT project manager.

  • And that's what people expected me to do,

  • because based on my personality assessment,

  • that's what it suggests I should be as a computer science engineer.

  • But I've learned that we're not a personality assessment.

  • Because my assessment is

  • I'm a Type-A, blue square, conscientious, INTJ with the sign of Aquarius.

  • That means I'm an ambitious, stubborn introvert

  • who likes long walks on the beach,

  • but I've learned we're not our personality assessments.

  • They might give us insight into our behavior

  • or tell us what motivates us

  • or tell us which Disney Princess we would be - Pocahontas -

  • (Laughter)

  • but they don't define us; instead, we are defined by our actions.

  • So I started doing comedy in college.

  • My best friend there in the middle wanted to start an improv comedy group.

  • He needed people and forced me to join.

  • And as you can probably tell from this picture, we were not very good.

  • At least to start out, we had no idea what we were doing.

  • We watched "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" and tried to repeat what we saw.

  • And what I didn't have in comedy skill I made up in comedy project management.

  • "If we're going to do this for real;

  • we'll practice three times a week,

  • we'll have a business meeting every Monday,

  • and we're going to go back and watch our shows as if it was game tape.''

  • And over the course of two years, we got better.

  • We went from performing in the basements of residence halls

  • to performing twice a week at a theater on campus,

  • never really learning how to take a good picture.

  • But that's how you learn the skill of humor.

  • It's through practice and repetition.

  • And anyone can do these things.

  • And you don't have to become a professional comedian to use comedy,

  • but we can learn from the professionals.

  • For example, from stand-up, we can learn about how to share your point of view,

  • because Louis C.K. has a very specific way of seeing the world,

  • which is different than Ellen DeGeneres,

  • which is different than Tig Notaro, Dave Chappelle or Chris Rock.

  • Everyone has their own perspective.

  • Some people tell me

  • that I kind of look like the intersection of Hugh Jackman and Conan O'Brien.

  • (Laughter)

  • Other people are like, "Ah, I kind of see David Tennant from Doctor Who."

  • One woman told me,

  • ''I think you look like Justin Timberlake but from here to here.''

  • (Laughter)

  • And we're going to ignore the guy that told me I look like Clay Aiken.

  • Right, just completely.

  • Everyone has their own perspective.

  • And we can use that perspective as a way to connect with other people, right?

  • We can use it to say, ''Oh, we're alike.'' How many people here like desert?

  • People love desert. I love deserts. I am obsessed with milkshake.

  • So it's the most efficient form of desert

  • because of the deliciousness of ice cream in an easy-to-consume form.

  • But I don't understand mint chocolate.

  • I don't know if we have any mint chocolate fan.

  • I've never been eating chocolate

  • and been like, ''You know what would go great with this? Toothpaste."

  • (Laughter)

  • We can share a perspective as a way to connect.

  • We can also share a perspective as a way to make a point.

  • Because I will tell you

  • that I have always understood computers much more than I understand humans.

  • Because when something goes wrong with the computer,

  • you get an error message.

  • When something goes wrong with a human,

  • you get feelings.

  • (Laughter)

  • Things would be so much easier if humans came with error messages,

  • wouldn't they?

  • Say you're overworked, overwhelmed, a little bit stressed out,

  • it would just pop up: "Warning! System overload."

  • (Laughter)

  • "Please restart by taking a nap."

  • Because we all know naps are the human version

  • of, "Just turn it off and then turn it back on again."

  • Some error messages you wouldn't even have to change.

  • Say, you're out flirting with a waitress, she's not really feeling it.

  • It would just pop up: "Error. Unable to establish connection to server."

  • (Laughter)

  • Things would be so much easier.

  • But the reality is that humans aren't computers,

  • no matter how adorable they are when they pretend to be.

  • Because we, as humans, not only have to manage time, we have to manage energy.

  • Because it doesn't matter how much time we have

  • if we've never have the energy to do anything with it.

  • From improv, we can learn how we can explore and heighten a point of view.

  • Because the fundamental mindset of improvisation is "Yes, and..."

  • It's how improvisers at UCB, Second City and ComedySportz make things up

  • off the top of their head.

  • And we can use that same thing,

  • take what they do, accept and build, explore and heighten and say,

  • ''If this is true, what else is true?''

  • Because it took me going to the state of Florida to realize

  • that the rapper Flo Rida got his name from his home state of Florida,

  • and he put a space in it.

  • That blew my mind!

  • (Laughter)

  • We could say, ''If this is true, what else could be true?''

  • We could say,

  • "I think there should be a Hispanic factory in Dover

  • that goes by De La Ware."

  • (Laughter)

  • Or like, "There could be a female internet detective in Biloxi

  • who goes by Misses IP, PI."

  • (Laughter)

  • And if this is true, what else is true?

  • If we can use ''Yes, and'' to create humor,

  • we can also use ''Yes, and'' as a way to connect with other people.

  • We can think of that stereotypical small talk conversation

  • where people are like, ''Ah, how about this weather?''

  • You say, "Yes, and if you were not at this event right now,

  • how would you be out enjoying the weather?"

  • And we can turn an awkward conversation into something more meaningful

  • where you learn about the person.

  • ''With beautiful weather, I go outside, or I go hiking or swimming.''

  • If you're me, you stay inside, because you're very pale.

  • I like to use SPF building; its the best protection.

  • We learn about people through ''Yes, and.''

  • We can also use a yes-and mindset to have more fun,

  • because the reality is that the average person works 90 thousand hours

  • in their lifetime.