Josie Leavitt Talks About Humor

By Cindy Bishop on 12/18/2006
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Humorist and lecturer, Josh Billings said,” There ain’t much fun in medicine, but  there’s a heck of a lot of medicine in fun."

JosieThis fall, Josie Leavitt, Green Mountain alum, stand-up comic and comedy tutor, coached a sell out crowd of enthusiastic Green Mountain participants on how to perform stand-up comedy during a very special workshop called, ‘Just Humor Me’. Recently, I called upon Josie to share some of her thoughts and insights about humor, health and life with our dear readers. This is what she had to say:

GM: You just completed a humor workshop at Green Mountain at Fox Run. Can you tell us what inspired you to put together a workshop about comedy and humor, something some might deem as a bit ‘light hearted’ and why you think there’s value in laughter as a healing tool?

Josie: I had the idea because I’ve been a past participant at GM and have done humor workshop for a variety of organizations.  Many folks had told me they’d felt more confident since performing stand up in front of an audience.

GM: I think everyone can relate to how good you feel after a good belly laugh. What other aspects of laughter or humor do think are important for women in their busy lives?

Josie: I firmly believe that humor gives us power. It gives power of the past, to create humor where once we felt pain or embarrassment. If we can the humor in situations, they become less tense and that can only be a good thing.

GM: It seems like there is increasing evidence that our thoughts, moods, emotions, and belief system have a fundamental impact on the body’s basic health and healing mechanisms. How do you think humor plays into our health and wellbeing?

Josie: I have no medical evidence to support any of this, but I think laughing is just plain good for us.  It’s got to help our hearts because it lightens them. And if there were any justice in the world, laughter would lower cholesterol.

GM: If we can agree that laughter makes a significant contribution to our health, it seems anything we can do to sustain a more positive, upbeat frame of mind in dealing with the daily hassles and problems in your life will help us contribute to our mood and emotional state. What suggestions might you have that would assist women out there to find their inner comedian?

Josie: To find your inner comedian you need to give yourself permission to laugh at everything. Nothing is sacred. Remember that things you struggle with are what are funny. I always tell my students, “had a great day, keep it to yourself.  A day from Hell, now that’s funny.

GM: Given some of the evidence that laughter can increase the immune system and reduce stress, it makes sense that individuals who have a better developed sense of humor, meaning that they find more humor in their everyday life, seek out humor more often, laugh more, etc. How would you suggest women try to work more humor into their everyday lives? How can they laugh it up a bit more?

Josie: Well, one big thing is to actually seek out comedy. Either go to the comedy clubs in your area or rent comedies with your friends. Sometimes, we have to inject humor in our everyday lives. It’s easy to get in a rut and forget to actually do something fun.

GM: We’ve all heard that fat people are jolly. Having struggled with my weight most of my life I felt it was important to have a well developed sense of humor, but I wonder if  being overweight isn’t the reason one develops a self depreciating sense of humor for purposes of defending themselves?

Josie: I think a lot of people who feel marginalized use humor as a way to connect with the in “group”. If you can make them laugh before they at you, you’ve controlled the situation and hopefully staved off some potential hurt.

GM: Josie, can you share in what meaningful ways humor has changed your life?

Josie: Humor has made my life richer.  There’s nothing really as much fun as making someone laugh, or a room-full people laugh. I like that being a comedian keeps me writing and thinking creatively.

GM: In what way have you benefited personally from choosing comedy as a profession?

Josie: I get to share my quirky observations with the world at large. And that’s really fun. I get recognized every once in awhile and that’s fun. It’s nice that folks are enjoying my work. 

GM: What are some simply tips you might share with women that could help better move through life with a brighter and more humorous outlook?

Josie: The one thing I’d suggest is to just try to what’s funny about every situation.  Don’t be shy about laughing is something strikes you as funny. A lot of women suppress laughter because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves. LAUGH and have fun.

*Josie Leavitt currently performs stand-up to sell out shows all over Vermont and New England. Before moving to Vermont, she did stand-up for a living in New York City at Caroline’s, the Comic Strip, Don’t Tell Mama, The Comedy Cellar, and Stand-up NY, where she won the contest for Funniest West Sider. She also performed on the Midwest college circuit. Josie teaches stand-up comedy performance classes at the Flynn Theatre’s Education Arts in Burlington, Vermont.

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