Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mid-Month Mirth Memo December 2011


A friend of mine just phoned me to say that since early this morning the snow has been nearly waist high and is still falling. The temperature is dropping way below zero and the north wind is increasing to near gale force. Her husband has done nothing but look through the kitchen window and just stare. She says that if it gets much worse, she may have to let him in.

A stark-naked woman jumps into a taxi and gives the cabbie an address.
The cabbie just looks at her, making no attempts to drive.
“What are you staring at?” the woman asks. “Haven’t you seen a naked woman before?”
“I’m not staring,” he replies.
“Well, if you’re not staring, what are you doing?”
“Wondering where you’re keeping you money to pay me.”

                                                             —Reader’s Digest
A nun in a convent goes up to the Mother Superior. “Mother Superior, we have a case of syphilis in the Rectory!”

The Mother Superior replies, “Thank goodness! I’ve gotten tired of the Merlot.”

This year, give a gift that keeps on giving. 
Inspiration for a Lifetime
Change Your Life!: A Little Book of Big Ideas 

600 quotations in specific categories in each book.
Available @ Amazon, B&N, & on Kindle & Nook.  and/or


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Using Humor At a Memorial Service

Guest Blog by John Kinde*

For many people, speaking at a funeral or memorial service is one
of the most difficult speaking challenges.  When faced with making
meaningful tribute comments, humor is often a friend and the
perfect tool.

On November 19 I presented an Observational Humor monologue near
the end of a memorial service for PowerHouse Pros club member
Pam Shinkle.  Since that time I've been reflecting on the pro's
and con's of using humor at a funeral or memorial service.

1.  A natural stress reliever.  Humor is the perfect tool when
delivering comments at a memorial service.  Emotions run high
and people are usually ready for a break in the tension.  They
want to laugh.  You want to do it right and avoid the risk of
"the wrong humor at the wrong time."

2.  Less-is-more.  That's a rule of humor that definitely applies
at memorial services.  A little humor goes a long way. 
Presenting a lot of humor may be perceived by many as, "Does he
think this is a comedy club?"

3.  A funny story.  For most people, opening with one humorous line
or funny story is perfect.  It sets the scene for sharing touching
memories. The humor can evolve naturally from the story.  A
humorous true story, unlike a stock joke, won't seem force-fit
into the talk.  A funny story is a great way to remember the good
and fun times.  It reflects positively on you and the honoree.

4.  Book ends.  Ideally, when I give a talk or a monologue, I like
to use book ends.  That's a device where I open my remarks and
close my remarks using humor which is on the same theme.  One of
the speakers in the middle of the program was Sherrie Parker,
wife of the emcee, Bill Parker. Sherrie commented that she was
going to hug and kiss the emcee.  She received a good laugh.

When I was introduced I set the first book end with, "I'm glad I
was asked to be on the program...since I now realize that when I'm
done, I can give Bill a hug and a kiss."  That laid the groundwork
for the second bookend to close my remarks.  When I was apparently
finished speaking, I returned control of the service to Bill.  He
extended his arm to shake hands. I moved towards him with open
arms indicating I expected a hug.  So he hugged me.  And I kissed
him on the cheek.  Since it appeared that I had completed my
remarks, the unexpected kiss greatly magnified the element of
surprise.  A huge laugh.

5.  Your expertise.  The less experience you have using humor, the
more cautious you must be.  I've had over 30 years experience as
a humor professional, and I'd almost never present a humor monologue
at a memorial service.  There are exceptions:  Does the program
have an underlying theme of humor?  Are the other speakers using
lots of humor?  Have you been specifically asked to do a humor
set?  Avoid the temptation of doing lots of humor just because
you CAN.

6.  The format of the service.  If it's a typical memorial service,
a funny story is the perfect way do deliver a smile and a laugh. 
If it's a roast format, it opens the door to lots of humor.  Pam
Shinkle's service was in the format of a Toastmasters meeting. 
Therefore, the type of humor normally used at a meeting would
likely be acceptable and expected.  At our club meetings, we
always have a segment reserved for Observational humor.  I was
introduced as the Observational Humor Master.

7.  What would the honoree like?  Was the person of honor a
stand-up comedian?  Did the honoree have a great sense of humor
and frequently use humor?  Would he or she laugh at your humor
if present at the service?  In the case of Pam's service, it was
known that her favorite part of each meeting was the Observational
Humor segment.  We would have been missing something if we had
not included a significant amount of humor.

8.  The tribute.  If you're presenting humor at a memorial service,
don't get so tied up in the humor that you forget the tribute. 
Presentations at a memorial service should normally contain
elements of praise...nice things about the honoree.  Since my
remarks were mostly humorous, I made some serious remarks about
Pam's sense of humor:  "Most people thought that Pam knew
everything.  But she didn't.  She thought she wasn't funny...she
was wrong.  She WAS funny.  She was funny...because she thought
she wasn't.  She was funny because she didn't try too hard to be
funny. She was funny because she was smart and could see the
humorous connections. She was funny because she understood the
chemistry of humor.  She was funny because she didn't take herself
too seriously.  She knew how to poke fun at herself.  And she was
a carrier of humor.  Pam would be the first to laugh at YOUR jokes. 
We'll miss the laughter and smiles which Pam brought to our lives."

9.  Test the water.  What are other people doing?  Are others using
humor in their remarks?  Is their humor getting a good response? 
People who are on the agenda before you can tell you whether or
not "the water's just fine."

The presiding minister opened the program with humor.  She was a
non-Toastmaster and had done her homework.  She knew that
Toastmaster members are encouraged to present speeches which
fulfill "manual projects," so that they can complete the speaker's
manual and get achievement recognition.  Early in her opening
comments she said she might be in trouble, "I didn't bring my
manual."  A good line and it paved the way for more humor to
follow in the nearly two-hour program.

Before I spoke at the service, Eric Culverson, an experienced
stand-up comedian, presented a Top Ten list...Ten Ways It's No
Longer Business as Usual in Heaven.  It received an excellent
response from the audience.

Eric's Top Ten List, and the humorous comments of at least ten
other presenters, told me that using humor was appropriate. 
You'll need to make a judgment call, if the humor of other
speakers is getting laughs, whether or not it's appropriate. 
A word of caution:  Just because a joke gets a laugh, doesn't
mean that it was timely and in good taste.  It's important that
you don't fall into the trap of thinking someone else has paved
the way for you, when in fact they offended people and set land
mines for speakers who followed them.

10.  Personal humor.  Focus your humor on the honoree.  And keep
it positive.  Don't be afraid to mention some of the honoree's
notable quirks, but keep it respectful.

  - Remember the fun times.
  - Think of times when you laughed together.
  - Think of embarrassing moments.
  - Think of examples of self-deprecating humor.
  - Look for stories which are common knowledge.
  - Look for mistakes or mis-understandings.

A common theme of jokes centered around Pam as a short person.  She
might have been shorter than five feet tall.  Since I'm tall (six
feet three inches), and the fact that the program was running
long, it would open the door for me to begin with:  "I'll be short."

Another common theme of jokes during the program centered around
Pam's intelligence.  She was smart and seemingly knew everything. 
That set the stage for my personalizing an old joke to fit the
occasion.  "A few years ago I saw an ad in the paper:  Encyclopedia
set for sale...Wife knows everything.  So I called the number. 
Bryant answered the phone."  Excellent response.  And Bryant
laughed too.

11.  Avoid generic death and funeral jokes.  There is a joke going
around, "I noticed there was a fence around the cemetery.  I asked
a grounds keeper if the fence was there because people were trying
to escape.  He said the fence was there because people were dying
to get in."  In the right circumstances, it's a good joke.  But
it's inappropriate for a funeral.

12.  Go to school.  Each time you attend a memorial service, even
if you're not on the program, note how the presenters use humor. 
What type of humor?  What works and what doesn't?  Let the success
and failure of others strengthen your presentations.

13.  When in doubt.  If you ask yourself the question, "Is this
joke inappropriate?"  The answer is probably YES, just because
you asked the question.  Always err on the side of caution.  When
in doubt...leave it out.

Remember that humor and memorial services go together.  The stress
and tension of losing a loved one can be broken with a healthy
laugh. The next time you say a few words at a service, consider
sprinkling your remarks with a little humor.  It's a great way
to honor someone you care about.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Never Leave Home Without It...Your Sense of Humor, That Is

10 Tips to Lighten Up Holiday Hassles

The holidays are filled with many Maalox moments—over-crowded stores, airport/ highway travel, last minute shopping, and not enough time to get it all done. While these, and other annoyances, are ripe for stress, they are also opportunities to test your sense of humor and turn these Maalox moments into more mirthful ones.

Below are ten things you can do to add more joy to this joyous season.

1- Carry some small reminder around with you to remember to lighten up. Some bubbles perhaps? A red clown nose? A photo of your playful child or pet?

2- Wrap your gifts in the Sunday newspaper funnies. They are colorful, fun, and could save you a bundle of money on expensive gift-wrapping paper.

3- Try some random acts of silliness. For example:

-Wear mismatched gloves or socks… on purpose!

-Page yourself over the intercom!

-If and when a store clerk, restaurant server or flight attendant asks matter-of-factly "How are you today?" try replies such as, "Well medicated. And you?"

4- Have some funny signs around your office or home to remind you to lighten up. For example:

-Never wrestle with a pig - you both get dirty and the pig likes it.

-You don't have to be crazy to work here…but it sure helps!

-If we're closed, just slide the money under the door!

Or, put a sign on your bathroom mirror which reads, “This person is not to be taken seriously.”

5- Pop goes your stress. Save the bubble wrap you get when buying fragile items. Pop it with your fingers, knees and toes! Sit on it. Dance on it. Pop it with young children.

6- Remind yourself what is really important in life. So what if someone doesn’t get a gift before Christmas? It might be even more special after Christmas when it’s not competing with all the other gifts.

7- Let a smile be your umbrella. This simple choice is yours. You can frown and be miserable or you can wear a smile and watch it rub off on others.

8- Go see a funny holiday movie or live show. There are many choices this time of year.

9- Focus on the positive. Write down all the great things you love about the holidays. Keep the list handy when annoyances arise. And share them with others. You will probably hear something uplifting that you forgot to put on your list.

10- Take a tour of downtown department store windows. In bigger cities, they are always fanciful, fun, and often a magical holiday experience.

Finally, to get you started on the right track…

A nun in a convent goes up to the Mother Superior. “Mother Superior, we have a case of syphilis in the Rectory!”

The Mother Superior replies, “Thank goodness! I’ve gotten tired of the Merlot.”

Happy holiday!


Allen Klein is the world’s only “Jollytologist”, a professional speaker, and author of 17 books including The Healing Power of Humor, Change Your Life!: A Little Book of Big Ideas, and Learning to Laugh When You Feel Like Crying.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mid-Month Mirth Memo

 The Mid-Month Mirth Memo is a short amusing tidbit to brighten middle of the month monotony.  It is brought to you by best-selling author, award-winning speaker, "Jollytologist" ® Allen Klein  


(In honor of Thanksgiving)
Everyday I am thankful for something in my life. 

Today I'm thankful that the photographer was not standing on the other side. 

(In honor of Social Media)
"In case of fire, exit building before TWEETING about it."

(In honor of National Hospice Month)

A very old man lay dying in his bed. In death’s doorway, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite chocolate chip cookie wafting up the stairs.

He gathered his remaining strength and lifted himself from the bed. Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with even greater effort forced himself down the stairs, gripping the railing with both hands.

With labored breath, he leaned against the door frame, gazing into the kitchen.  Were it not for death’s agony, he would have thought himself already in heaven.

There, spread out on newspapers on the kitchen table, were literally hundreds of his favorite chocolate chip cookies.

Was it heaven? Or was it one final act of heroic love from his devoted wife, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?

Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself toward the table. The aged and withered hand, shaking, made its way to a cookie at the edge of the table, when he was suddenly smacked with a spatula by his wife.

“Stay away from those,” she said. “They’re for the funeral!”

(To you deal with holiday stress)

The Healing Power of Humor: Techniques for Getting through Loss, Setbacks, Upsets, Disappointments, Difficulties, Trials, Tribulations, and All That Not-So-Funny Stuff

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mid-Month Mirth Memo: October,2011

The Mid-Month Mirth Memo is a short amusing tidbit to brighten middle of the month monotony.  It is brought to you by best-selling author, award-winning speaker, "Jollytologist" ® Allen Klein  


Former Miss Russia, previously arrested for forging prescriptions, now busted for shoplifting. Cops say she still hasn’t gotten her Berings Strait.

Police arrest man for stealing stenography machines. He wants a short sentence.
—from Readers Digest

The new city hall in Chandler, Arizona, is ecofriendly and uses recycled gray water in the toilets. Just to be safe, a sign went up in the bathrooms warning employees not to drink out of the toilets. “I’m glad I saw that sign because I was very thirsty,” deadpanned the mayor.
A woman rubs a lamp and out pops a genie. “You’re a kind lady, so I’ll grant you one wish,” the genie tells her.
“See this cat? I’d rather have a strong, handsome man,” she says.
The genie agrees and—poof!—the cat turns into a Brad Pitt clone. The woman leaps into his lap.
“Do you have anything to say before we make love?” she asks.
“Yes,” he says. “I bet you wish you hadn’t had me neutered last week.”

The holidays are fast approaching. Why give the same old gift when you can give the book that keeps on giving? Inspiration for a Lifetime: Words of Wisdom, Delight and Possibility.


Monday, October 3, 2011

You Can't Ruin My Day: Just Say "Yes"


If the shutters are closed, the sunlight cannot come in.
-Eckhart Tolle, author/spiritual teacher
Years ago, I took an improvisation class.  Improvisation is the art of creating something from whatever is presented to you. One of the things we learned in the class, and a cornerstone of improvisational technique, was called “Yes, And…” It means that one of the improvisers will say or do something and, without rejecting it, the other improviser will accept it and add something new to the action.
Basically, it is a method of being willing to accept what is given to you. Before you can have anything change in your life, you have to be willing for it to change. I’m going to repeat that because it is an extremely simple concept but a difficult one to fully comprehend.
“Before you can have anything change in your life, you have to be willing for it to change.” They keys words here are “be willing.”
Things don’t change by themselves; there has to be some energy behind them to get things moving. If you want something to be other than the way it is, the first question you need to ask yourself is “Am I willing?”— “Am I willing for things to change? Am I willing for things to be different?”  “Am I willing not to let anything or anyone upset me?”
Saying “Yes” to these things may not be comfortable; in fact it may be very difficult but if you want to move from where you are now, either physically or mentally, to somewhere else, you must be willing to do so in spite of the discomfort.
When I wanted to be a professional speaker, in order to share my message about the therapeutic value of humor, it was not easy. I almost failed speech class in college so getting up in front of a group was terrifying. But saying, “Yes” and being willing to do whatever it took empowered me to rise above my fear and share my message anyway. Saying “Yes”, and being willing to do whatever it took empowered me to keep going even when it looked like I might not get to a speaking engagement due to the forces of nature. Saying “Yes” and being willing to do whatever it took also empowered me to get my first book published when others told me it was impossible.
Being willing and saying “Yes” can empower you to face your current roadblocks. 

What can you say “yes” to this week?

An eager and willing, but less than bright, young entrepreneur decides to go into the painting business. So he wanders into the rich part of town, paint brush in hand, and knocks at the door of a large house.
"Good day, sir. I was wondering if you had any painting you need done."
The owner of the house, a rich man by any standard, looks speculatively at the painter. He perceives a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, which reminds him of his own ambition in his younger days.
"Hmmm. Yes, I think my porch needs a coat or two of paint."
The eager young painter rushes off around the side of the house...
Several hours later, he returns to the front door, his clothes dripping paint, and knocks again.
"Sir, I've finished! But I have to tell you, that wasn't a porch, it was a Ferarri."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

YOU CAN'T RUIN MY DAY: Getting to Know You

Wake-Up Call #1
We must learn to accept life and to accept ourselves with a shrug and a smile . . .
because it’s all we’ve got.
-Harvey Mindess, author
Until you accept things the way they are and realize that you can’t change other people except perhaps by setting an example of how you would like them to be, you will be hard pressed to find a lot of happiness in your life.
            If you had a horse, for example, and you wanted to go in one direction and the horse you are riding wants to go in another, sorry folks, but it ain’t gonna work. No amount of pulling or tugging, kicking or screaming, pleading, or prodding will make the horse go where you want it to go if the horse doesn’t want to go there. And, don’t forget, he is much bigger than you. So accepting the place where the horse is headed is easier.
            To be a contented, and have a great day every day, you need to accept other people as they are, not the way you want them to be. I’m not saying not to try to make the world better. But it is useless to keep knocking your head against the wall trying to change things that can’t be changed.

Every time you encounter someone who upsets you, stop and ask yourself, “What is it that annoys me about that person? Chances are that quality that you don't like is something you also have or you probably would not have noticed it in someone else. It is probably something you also need to accept in yourself.

Lighten Up:
Nasreddin, a satirical Sufi figure, was walking along the street when he sees a mirror lying on the curb. 
“Oh! what a waste," says Nasrudin, “a good mirror thrown away like that.” 
So he picks it up and looks in it, then he discards it too. 
“No wonder they threw the mirror away", he says, "What a face! Who’d want to look at a face like that!”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mid-Month Mirth Memo: September 2011

The Mid-Month Mirth Memo is a short amusing tidbit to brighten middle of the month monotony.  
It is brought to you by best-selling author, award-winning speaker, "Jollytologist" ® Allen Klein  

I thought I saw an eye-doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, "You stay here. I'll go on a head." 

She was only a whiskey-maker, but he loved her still.

A rubber-band pistol was confiscated from an algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.

Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks, months, maybe years.

In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

Some people are like a Slinky - not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

“Are your mother and father in?” asked one instructor when a small boy opened the door.
“Well,” said the boy, “they was in but they is out now.”
“They was in? They is out?” said the shocked teacher, “Where is your grammar?”
“Oh,” said the boy, “she’s upstairs takin’ a bath.”                             —Steve Allen

TeacherLaughs: Quips, Quotes, and Anecdotes about the Classroom
by Allen Klein

Monday, September 5, 2011

New Reseach: Laughter is Good for the Heart

Reprinted from Heartwire © 2011 Medscape, LLC

Article by Michael O'Riordan. Complete article at:

August 29, 2011 (Paris, France) — A series of studies presented this week here at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) 2011 Congress highlight the role of laughter, positive thinking, anger, and job stress on developing cardiovascular events. Presenting results during a press conference entitled "Don't worry, be happy," the research had a serious side to it, stressing that anger and job stress are linked to higher cardiovascular event rates, while laughter and cognitive behavior therapy can lower the risk.

Dr Michael Miller (University of Maryland Medical School, Baltimore), the lead investigator of a study examining the link between endothelial function and laughter, said the purpose of his study was to examine the link between positive emotional health achieved through laughter and the subsequent effect on the vasculature.

"We want to maintain good vascular health, and we do that by maintaining a good diet and good regular physical activity, but it turns out that emotions also play an important role here," Miller told the media during a morning press conference. "What we've done in our study is to really promote laughter by showing movies, or segments from Saturday Night Live and other things, to really make people laugh. We appreciate that when we get a good sustained belly laugh, we feel good. That's the point of this--if we feel good, and not just go, 'ha ha,' but get a good belly laugh, does this translate into changes in vascular function?"

In their study, the researchers tested the effects of humorous and stressful movies on endothelial function. Subjects were shown the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, an intense 15-minute segment that takes place June 6, 1944 and shows Allied forces storming the beach of Normandy. Researchers were also shown segments of There's Something about Mary, Shallow Hal, and Kingpin, all comedies.

After each movie, endothelial function was measured. After watching the scene from Saving Private Ryan, blood vessels constricted by as much as 30% to 50%, whereas vasodilation occurred when investigators measured vascular function in subjects watching the comedies. They also observed that vasoconstriction and vasodilation can occur quickly, with the funny movies reversing blood-vessel contraction that occurred after watching the stressful D-Day scene.

Miller said the vasoconstrictive and vasodilative effects lasted for about an hour, although other researchers have seen the benefits of laughter on vascular function extended to 24 hours. He added that the magnitude of change in the blood vessel is similar to the effects observed with statins and physical activity. "We think the effect is fairly long lasting, considering you're only laughing for about 10 or 15 minutes," said Miller.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Learning to Laugh in the Face of Adversity

(The following article is reprinted from National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth online site.

Whether you’re a youth worker feeling overburdened or you’re working with a young person who's feeling angry, fearful, or depressed, adding humor into your day can benefit you both.

So says Allen Klein, author of The Healing Power of Humor and Learning to Laugh When You Feel Like Crying, who often carries around a red clown nose in case the situation calls for it.

Laughing provides both psychological and physical benefits that help people better cope with any situation, Klein says. “Psychologically, noticing humor even in stressful situations allows people to gain more perspective and not feel so caught up in what’s happening in their lives. Physically, laughing gives all the systems a workout and relieves tension.”

And laughter is contagious, he says, so once a youth worker points out something funny, it can lighten the mood for everyone around them, including youth.

Developing a positive attitude and the skills to use humor productively may not happen overnight. Klein offered some tips and considerations for incorporating humor into youth work.

Laughing Matters

Klein developed an acronym based on the word “LAUGH” to help folks remember how to find humor every day.

L is for “let go” of whatever is angering or distressing you. Take a couple of deep breaths and recognize that you have the power to rise above whatever is bothering you. This enables you to become more aware of how you view a situation and to think about changing your attitude.

A is for “attitude.” We can’t control what happens to us, but we can respond to our experiences with a positive attitude. The way we respond is more important than the actual events, Klein explained.

U is for “you,” because only you can change your attitude or let go.

G is for “go do it,” or use what you find in the previous steps to give yourself a more positive and hopeful perspective, and

H is for “humor eyes and ears.” “Humor is all around us all the time, but we don’t always notice it,” Klein says. Look around and notice something you didn’t see before, like a bumper sticker, for example, that may make you laugh.

The Power of Humor

Klein urges youth workers to recognize that humor is a very powerful thing that can both help and hurt. “Develop a rapport with young people first, listen to see what they joke about, and be careful not to poke fun at sensitive topics,” he told us. But you don’t have to worry about staying current with the latest jokes to incorporate humor successfully. Instead,  “the most effective opportunities for humor are often right in front of our noses,” Klein says.

You can also ask yourself or have youth ask themselves, “What funny things have happened while I was homeless?” or “What funny things have happened in the shelter?”  Sometimes you don’t see it until you ask yourself to find something funny.

You can even suggest that youth try to find one funny thing each day, Klein suggests. “When people realize they can tell a joke about themselves and make others laugh, they see ‘If I can laugh about this, maybe it’s not so tragic.’”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Laughter and Tears

Years ago, I used to manage a retreat that focused on death and dying workshops. At one of these events, there were about 100 people. All of them had a close connection to loss. Some were hospice caregivers, some were families of terminally ill patients, some were patients near death and some had recently lost a loved one.
The retreat lasted ten days and most of it was held in silence. On the seventh day, the instructor informed me that he wanted to work with some people individually. Knowing my interest in humor and healing, he asked me to take the group over and do a session on that subject. Because of the gravity of the circumstances facing nearly everyone in the group, I was a bit apprehensive to discuss humor. But I did.
Before I tell you exactly how the group responded, you need to know that all meals were strictly vegetarian. Harold was the cook. It was obvious from his rotund size that he really enjoyed food. He had been the cook at the center for many years and was good at what he did. 
But this was the first time that Harold had to adhere to a strict vegetarian menu. Knowing that he had little experience with this kind of cooking, we tried to clue him in on how to prepare well-balanced healthy vegetarian meals. But he didn't get it. Many of his meals consisted solely of pasta, potatoes and rice. Vegetarian, yes. Healthy, no.
The evening I was to present my discussion of humor and healing, I decided that I would give the group a multiple-choice exam. The first question I asked them was, "My favorite meal on this retreat thus far was:
A -- Pasta and potatoes,
B -- Rice and pasta,
C -- Potatoes and rice.
My opening question brought down the house. The audience laughed loud and long. When the laughter died down, I asked the second multiple-choice question,, "Harold’s favorite food was:
A -- Rice
B -- Pasta
C -- Potatoes.
Again the audience went wild.
By the time I got to the third question, "Your favorite retreat cook is...", all I had to do was say "A" - without even revealing what the first choice was - and the audience went into hysterical laughter. It was the most boisterous and receptive audience I had ever had. Later on, I realized why.
I was providing a release for them. After many days in silence and intense soul-searching, the laughter provided much needed relief and a release of built up tension. I also realized that the laughter that night was as important as the tears they had been crying all week. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Why I Write Books

I just read an unsolicited review on Amazon of my first book, The Healing Power of Humor, that brought tears to my eyes. It was written by a woman who had been in prison. Below is an excerpt.

Helped Me Behind Prison Razor Wire

"Prison is a harsh, lonely landscape, designed to squash hope. There is very little laughter inside the wires. While I was in prison, I was desperately lonely and depressed. I was battling advanced breast cancer and my young roommate had died from undiagnosed leukemia. When I received Allen Klein's book, I felt as if someone had thrown me a lifeline of hope. I underlined and starred and laughed. I read it over and over. This is not a dated joke book. For someone hurting, it is priceless. Wherever you are, inside prison walls or outside in the free world, grief and loss are agony and this little book will serve you well."
"In Arizona, inmates are only allowed to keep 10 books and 5 magazines so you can imagine a book has to be very special to hold on to it.... Through it all, I've held on to Allen's book. It still gives me pleasure and inspires me. Thanks, Allen. I wish there were copies in every prison in America."

The book was written over 20 years ago and it is still making a difference. I'm touched, honored, and grateful.