Laughter to make Australians more resilient

Never has there been more important time to laugh. News and social media are bombarding us with doomsday predictions, nuclear annihilation, and societal chaos. Not that the kids have noticed. The average kid between 3 and 6 will laugh around 400 to 600 time’s a day, whereas their ‘miserable’ parents only chuckle between 12 to 15 times. It’s not surprising that many companies are turning to comedy to help reduce stress, build resilience, and in doing so, reduce staff turnover, sick days, and increase productivity.

“The average kid between 3 and 6 will laugh around 400 to 600 time’s a day, whereas their ‘miserable’ parents only chuckle between 12 to 15 times.”

Yes, there is a link between laughing and Return On Investment (ROI).

And who are they turning to? Comedian, Anthony Ackroyd, and corporate educator, Morry Morgan, are helping make Australians laugh at themselves and in return build a more mentally healthy, and resilient, country. While the two are going about it different ways, their goals are the same – increasing the laughs, to reduce the stress.

Ackroyd, who has been a huge part of the comedy landscape in the 80s and 90s, with his regular appearances on Hey Hey It’s Saturday and The Big Gig, has turned his on-screen comedy into in-house corporate courses, with the aptly named ‘Stress Less Laugh More’ course. Today, he helps companies link ROI to happier employees, by making it ‘safe’ to laugh in the workplace. “I help companies lower the ‘laugh bar’,” says Ackroyd, “And what I mean by that is to look for opportunities to laugh more often and more easily. We’ve all got that inner killjoy that’s trying to keep us looking serious and important, and not make a fool of ourselves, and that really limits the joy. Release the joyful kid inside!”

Morgan, who has worked in corporate education across Australia and Asia-Pacific for 16 years, has also taken a structured approach, building a stand-up comedy school. The School of Hard Knock Knocks (pun intended) runs evening classes for the public, and invites veteran comedians to share their insights, give feedback, as well as perform at the graduation. “The five-day course attracts a mixture of wannabe comedians and bucket-list tickers, but one thing that they all have in common is that the course is an empowering experience,” says Morgan. “Not many people get to say that they’ve performed a five-minute set, alongside comedic greats like Jeff Green, Greg Fleet, or Dave O’Neil, and when I meet them in the bar afterwards they tell me they feel invincible!” Now that’s resilience. What’s a pleasant surprise is that the School of Hard Knock Knocks isn’t just limited to just the big cities of Sydney and Melbourne, with courses running in Geelong and Wagga Wagga, as well as other regional cities planned in 2018.

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