That’s a phrase you’ll often hear from Catherine Lawrence, a lawyer-turned-humorist who left corporate law to make people laugh. Put a microphone in her hand, give her an audience, and she’s off. Her audiences include everyone from students to legal firms, corporations to associations. She’s looking for people who want to, need to laugh. Her philosophy? You must have a sense of humor to survive and thrive.
In 2006, Catherine was diagnosed with a rare lung disease, which is no laughing matter. Despite this new diagnosis, Catherine was intent on tackling her disease with her signature sense of humour, and she's doing so with a hearty laugh.
Catherine has beaten the odds of her prognosis and believes that the power of laughter is helping to save her life. She wants to help you and your company harness the all-encompassing benefits of laughter. Being hit with a life-threatening disease, her relationship with laughter went even deeper, with a greater understanding how the power of laughter applies at work, at life, and in physical health.
“But what I really love is to laugh and make people laugh. It’s one of the most wonderful things in the world-especially when you realize that laughter is the world’s best medicine. It makes people well. It makes people whole.”
Humour was always part of Catherine's life, but the catalyst for this career change after 8 years in law began with a three-week sabbatical to Bhutan. "I still remember the sign that greeted me at the air terminal in Bhutan. It read 'Welcome. No admittance.’ I knew I had come to the right place." That set the tone for her trip, which she describes as a magical and hilarious experience.
On the way back from Bhutan, Catherine received an invitation to play in the World Elephant Polo Championships at Tiger Tops in Nepal. She returned two years later as the captain of the first all-women’s, all Canadian team in the competition. Not only did they fare well in the round-robin tournament, she still displays with a laugh the ceremonial dagger she was awarded as a member of the best-dressed team.
When she returned to Canada she decided to follow her passion and pursue comedy as a career. And she did - using all the skills and tenacity that had helped her win a law degree in the first place.
So, in true Lawrence legal fashion, she set out to learn comedy.
"In the mid 90’s I took a standup comedy course at the Avenue Road Arts School. I went to amateur nights at Yuk Yuks. I would be sneaking off at night to do schticks. By day I was a carpool mom."
"I was keynote speaker for Havergal’s 100th-year celebrations, and followed that with MC-ing at live auctions. I was auctioning sex pills before Viagra ever came onto the market."
As requests for her comedy skills came in, Catherine continued to learn as she practiced. Over the years, she had done a lot of thinking about the place of laughter in life. "I began to research the therapeutic aspects of humour," she says, and had come to understand that besides being a performance skill, humour is a profound therapeutic tool.
In San Diego in 2001, following an American Association for Therapeutic Humor Conference, she became one of the first Canadian Certified Laughter Leaders and joined the World Laughter Tour, that was inspired by Dr. Madan Kataria's laughter yoga in India.
Catherine realized she wanted to help people to harness their natural humour resources to impact their energy and enthusiasm for work and life.
"My objective is to get people to bring more laughter into their lives. When a woman once told me her son said to her ‘Mom, you never laugh,” it struck me that a sense of fun was slipping out of our lives. And I want to help people get that back."
In the following articles, Catherine recalls how humour personally helped her through many life experiences.
"You need a sense of humour to cope with the stage, and even more to cope with life when you’re in a situation where you don’t speak the language."