Founded 34 years ago by Alison Crane, RN, a public speaker throughout the 1980s who focused on the therapeutic uses of humor in health care, the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH) attracts members from all walks of life — as long as they have a funny bone. Nurses, doctors, professional speakers, artists, teachers, researchers, and other professionals belong to AATH and attend the organization’s events, including its annual conference, which took place virtually in 2021.
This year’s annual conference program covered a wide range of topics, said Jennifer Keith, AATH’s president. “Each year we are astonished by how much talent and expertise in the area of humor exists and how many of those special individuals are willing to share that with us,” she said.
Keynote speeches explored how your brain processes humor, the power of play and its connection to intelligence, and even memes. “Our 14 breakout sessions varied their topics, too,” Keith said, “focusing on research, diversity, cancel culture, and how to use humor in your professional tools such as resumes, bios, and presentation materials.”
During the event, all breakout sessions were held in Zoom meeting mode to allow attendees to connect with one another in the virtual space. “We absolutely know that our people are what makes AATH membership worth its weight in gold,” Keith said.
Many AATH members want to pursue humor-based businesses — such as speaking professionally, hosting podcasts, writing books, and more. Through conversations with members, AATH realized “we really have a depth of knowledge in the organization that we just run out of time to share during the annual conference,” Keith said. AATH sought a way to package these insights as a separate, interactive workshop to help others plan, improve, or start their own businesses — the organization will launch its first two-day, in-person Funny Business Boot Camp on Aug. 27-28 in Orlando, Florida. Fifty attendees will take part, hoping to learn aspects of running a humor-based business such as:
- How to Book and Find Speaking Opportunities
- Getting Serious Groups to Engage
- Infusing Humor Into Any Topic
“Anything that encourages others to produce more humor in the world, as it’s even more desperately needed now,” Keith said, “is a win in the AATH book.”
Casey Gale is associate editor at Convene.