There's A Meeting for That

Seriously Funny

This meeting is all about cultivating and promoting "healthy" humor.

Illustration by Carmen Segovia.

“Funny, how?” Joe Pesci asks in “GoodFellas.” The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH) shares Mr. Pesci’s curiosity.

“Our mission is to study, practice, and promote healthy humor,” said AATH President Mary Kay Morrison, a onetime kindergarten teacher and education administrator who today lectures on the power of humor. “We actually look at the research on humor.”

AATH members include hospice caregivers, psychologists specializing in humor therapy, therapists who work with PTSD-afflicted veterans, and educators who teach humor-studies courses. “What we find is, people that experience a lot of pain in their lives or in the lives of the people they care for,” Morrison said, “that humor brings stress relief, helps with wellbeing, and helps with healing.”

HA-HA SCHOOLA one-day pre-con at the Annual Conference is devoted to AATH’s Humor Academy, a three-year program that leads to the CHP (Certified Humor Professional) credential. “Whatever field people are in, they use their humor research,” Morrison said, “so we can further expand the knowledge and applications in the field.”

SMILE LIKE YOU MEAN ITBut the conference isn’t all seriousness and study. Far from it. There was a Mickey Mouse Club routine, with singing and dancing, to promote next year’s conference in Orlando. And this year’s business meeting, Morrison said, was “rudely interrupted by somebody who came in and said, ‘Excuse me, excuse me, I’m a reporter from London, and I have a few questions.’” In fact, it was AATH’s president-elect, faking a British accent, obnoxiously demanding information. “It was hilarious,” Morrison said. “Of course, I was acting absolutely shocked onstage that anybody would disrupt our serious business meeting.”

MAKE ’EM LAUGHNew this year: the AATH Talent Variety Show, in which attendees were invited to practice
what they preach. “We had a couple of standup comedians. We had some singing, karaoke, a clown who did an act,” Morrison said. “One of our standup comedians’ goal was to do his comedy routine in English, to translate it. He’s actually a government official over in Norway, and he does comedy on the side.”

Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor Annual Conference
April 7–10, 2015
Hilton Phoenix/Mesa
Mesa, Arizona



Comedy + Tragedy

AATH 2016’s keynotes:

› ‘Are You in Your Right Mind? How Our Brains Affect Our Personalities, Learning Styles, and Personal Interactions’

› ‘A Deputy’s Daughter Imparts Mayberry’s Lesson in Humor’

› ‘The Use of Humorous Music in Stress Reduction’

› ‘Heal Your Heart’

› ‘Operation Big Sister:
A Mission to Heal Human Trafficking With Humor’

› ‘Punch Up Your Life
With Humor’

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso formerly was executive editor of Convene.