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Keynotes and seminars on humor in the workplace

There are thousands of funny speakers and seminar leaders, but very few do research on the medical, psychological, and social benefits of humor. And only a small number of those show audiences practical ways to add humor to their work and their lives. Dr. John Morreall (pronounced Mor-el) is far more than a funny speaker--he’s an internationally recognized authority on humor and its benefits. He has been teaching university courses on humor since 1983. His seventy articles and five books include Humor Works, published by Human Resource Development Press. An international Humor Congress was held in Amsterdam in 2000 based on this book. Since 1988 John has been on the editorial board of Humor: International Journal of Humor Research. He has also served on the board of the International Journal for Humor and Health. For 2004 and 2005, he was elected President of the International Society for Humor Studies. His work has been featured in the New York Times (four times), the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Manchester Guardian, the Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo), The Economist, Financial Times, Forbes, and Businessweek. His 1994 Chautauqua Institution presentation, “The Many Values of Humor,” was rated as the best of the season. Among John’s clients are AT&T, IBM, and the IRS. His hobbies include plumbing and looking for the remote.
At Dr. Morreall’s seminars and keynotes, people don’t just laugh a lot--they learn a lot. He amuses, and amazes them with real examples from real workplaces of how humor reduces stress, boosts morale, defuses conflict, and makes communication more effective. Ever try a “Worst Customer of the Week Contest”? It may sound negative, but, done properly, it can have surprisingly positive results. As Dr. Morreall’s research shows, humor helps us focus on problems in a constructive way.

For an informational page in pdf format, click here.

Using real examples, lots of visual materials, and interactive exercises, John shows audiences how:

  • Play is not the opposite of work. Companies like Southwest Airlines which have put play and humor into their corporate culture have soared to the top of their industries.
  • Physically and mentally, humor is the opposite of stress. Laughter lowers blood pressure, increases blood circulation, reduces muscle tension and pain, and boosts the immune system.
  • Humor fosters mental flexibility, blocking negative emotions and allowing us to think our way through problems instead of feeling our way through them. It makes us more creative and better at coping with change.
  • When we have a sense of humor about ourselves, we see ourselves more objectively, "as other people do," to use the words of the old Candid Camera jingle. That makes us less defensive and more cooperative.
  • Sharing humor is essential to building and maintaining teams. It's a kind of emotional intelligence.
  • Humor serves as a social lubricant. It improves most kinds of communication, especially potentially threatening messages such as warning, evaluating, criticizing, and saying no. With humor we can complain without bitching.
  • Because humor short-circuits conflict, it is useful in coping with difficult people.
  • Not all humor is positive. We need to avoid divisive humor such as sarcasm and sexist humor.
  • Women and men frequently have different approaches to humor. Men’s humor is often competitive, while women’s is usually cooperative. When we understand these and other differences, we can harness the power of humor to benefit everyone.


"Just a quick word of thanks for the excellent session you led for our World Bank team...
All of my colleagues were highly appreciative of your messages and the way in which
you delivered them. You'll be glad to hear that -- although it's only been a week
I have already made conscious use of the lesson... Thanks again for a terrific program."


—Gary Perlin, Chief Financial Officer, The World Bank


© 2014 John Morreall