Jeff Abbas is a diversified organic farmer and environmental activist. He and his wife, Mary, raise a variety of heirloom and heritage vegetables for their agri-business, Kitchen Table CSA. They grind wheat to make their own flour, bake breads and do catering for small groups. Jeff promotes sustainability and community, teaching people how to forage for wild foods while leaving at least a third of it behind so it grows back stronger the next year. He'll be back to lead an edible wild plants hike at the Laugh-Fest so participants can taste the bounty of the land and help make dinner with it. Read his interview.
Laughter Yoga Master Teacher and silliness expert, Laughing Laura is the chief organizer of the Laugh-Fest. She will be sharing a variety of things this year, including the ever-popular Kundalini Dancing Meditation.
Teddy Widdel is a motivational speaker, singer and Laughter Yoga Teacher. She has a wealth of experience in working with seniors and lifting their spirits with her overwhelming joy (and fabulous fashions)! Her energy is contagious and you'll catch it when her hear speak. She'll inspire you to laugh and reach for the stars! With Teddy, you have to be prepared for anything! Read her interview.
Amanda Rhine is the founding director of the Discover Happy Pilates Studio in Decorah, Iowa. She holds a degree in Child and Family Sciences in 2006 from Florida State University and has completed 450+ hours of Comprehensive Certification with The Physicalmind Institute. She’s also a totally dope dancer and teaches “Club Dance” classes at her studio. She’ll be leading a delightful, energizing hip hop dance class at our LaughFest party. Get ready to shake it!
What makes Laugh-Fest so amazing is the expertise, passion, talent, wisdom, creativity, hilarity, joy and pant-suits of our presenters. This year we are pleased to announce that some of our well-loved presenters will be back and some new ones will make their debut. This page gives you more information about each of our exciting featured experts/speakers/workshop leaders (and will
compel you to be there so you can laugh with them!)
The Laughing DJs founded the Spin-A-Grin Laughter Club, which released its own laughing album. They are also the originators of the Laughter Heartbeat Station LOL.1. Delan and Julie were speakers at the All American Laughter Conference in Los Angeles, California in 2014. Julie has an AAS Degree, is a Certified Meditation Instructor and remains at the college as an adjunct instructor teaching Laughter Yoga and meditation classes. Delan teaches full-time at SLCC. She has her MEd, Instructional Technology and is a certified Spin instructor. She teaches Laughter Yoga, Spin and Computer Science classes at the College. They both have a certificate in Positive Psychology. Together they will amazing, creative, mind-blowing things you can do with Laughter Yoga. Read their interview.
We don't think it would even be a Laugh-Fest without the absurdly talented and delightful Celia! She will be back for her third Laugh-Fest! Her concert will be Friday, May 5 at 7 p.m. Read more and book your tickets here. Celia has has been described as "A cross between an Earthy Enya, Joan Baez, and Tina Fey." She dishes up the most delicious concoction of the silly and sacred. With powerful, heart-felt vocals and wacky comedic improvisations, the audience never knows what will happen with Celia on stage. A singer/songwriter with 10 albums, comedienne and Laughter Yoga Teacher, Celia will play a concert for us on Friday night of the Laugh-Fest and the church field-trip on Sunday morning. If you don't already adore Celia, you will after you meet her at the Laugh-Fest. Read her interview.
“Go out of your way to see her. You won’t be disappointed.”
—Rick’s Café Magazine
THE LAUGHING DJs
Another one of our fabulous presenters will be none other than world-class entertainer, Kenny Ahern. Touring the planet for over two decades, Kenny has been a faculty member with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College and The University of Wisconsin—La Crosse’s Clown Camp® (twenty years). Kenny has been featured at the World Clown Association and Clowns of America International Conventions and the Clowns Around the World Festival/Conference—Singapore. He has also presented workshops for the Drama Departments of DePaul University, The University of Minnesota and the University of Virginia. Kenny will lead us in—get this—a PIE FIGHT! That’s right. He’ll teach us the clown art of making and throwing pies. We’ll also learn comic water spitting techniques sure to make you laugh. Visit his website.
“Kenny Ahern is one of those rare people who is an outstanding entertainer that has analyzed what he does, so he understands how to teach it.”
—Bruce “Charlie” Johnson–Entertainer and Author “Creativity For Entertainers” trilogy
Lynda Tourloukis is the original founder of the Laugh-Fest in the Midwest! She is joyfully dedicated to guiding inspired individuals, groups and organizations who seek to understand and apply the vast new emotional frontier with common sense, simplicity and lightheartedness. Lynda’s background in leadership, coaching, laughter and play along with her insightful empathic approach allow for a creative experience that listens and filters what is desired with what presents in skill and ability. The yield is a remarkable realization of what is possible when a playful attitude is understood and honestly applied, thus earning the title from past clients as the Amused Muse. She will be leading more big fun this year as we celebrate 10 years of laughing together here in the Midwest. Read her interview.
Nobody can bring out the comedy—and spiritual potential—of polyester pant suits...and inspire others to do the same....than Jane Voigts! Comedian, writer and Methodist Minister, Jane is one of the great hopes for modern religious life. She graduated from the Claremont School of Theology in 1996. There she created an improv troupe of seminarians called Angelic Residue; they played improv games with scripture and were a huge hit everywhere we went. Currently living in Waverly, IA, she continues to develop several projects that build new bridges between comedy and theology including a podcast called Sacred Cow-Tippers! In her spare time, Jane continues to collect pantsuits and big pencils and she's still vibrating from the joy of seeing the Cubs win the World Series. Jane has become a regular at the Laugh-Fest and this year she'll be back with more zaniness. Read her interview.
We all know it’s best to laugh every day, but sometimes life can get in the way. Aaron Covey will lead a self-care workshop on how to get back to basics and relieve stress through individualized Laughter exercises and genuine childlike playfulness.
Aaron Covey is a Laughter Yoga Leader based out of Sheboygan, WI. In the two years since he began teaching, Aaron has led over two dozen workshops all along Lake Michigan and the Fox Valley, ranging in all ages from children and seniors. He specializes in “Stress Relief and Self-Care”, using Laughter as a tool anyone can use in their daily life. He has also used Laughter as a healing tool, touting the benefits of “Laughter Energy” at various spiritual gatherings, including music events and spirit fairs (including the one he and his wife have hosted semi-annually since 2014!).
Delan Jensen and Julie Pugmire were a HUGE HIT at last year's Laugh-Fest. They came all the way from Utah and made a splash. They were so great, in fact, that we have insisted they return. Delan and Julie have been working together as Laughter Yoga professionals and are known as the “Laughing DJs”. They teach at Salt Lake Community College and since 2013, they have been offering an accredited Certified Laughter Yoga Leader class—the first of its kind in the country!
Ellen will take us through a delightful experience known as "Laughter and Chocolate" which includes laughter yoga mixed with healthy and delicious chocolate tastings, chocolate meditation, yummy humming, yogic breathing and information on the history and production of chocolate. She will share ideas for seasonal events like Christmas and Valentines, mood altering events and even weight loss pairings. Participants learn techniques to use to keep joyously balanced, learn about the similar health benefits of both laughter and dark chocolate, how to select healthier chocolate and have loads of fun laughing and tasting. Ellen Mercer, a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher and Leader, has a nutrition degree from Colorado State University and is Oklahoma's most experienced Laughter Yoga Teacher. She was certified by Dr. Madan Kataria in 2010. Ellen thinks of laughter as an essential nutrient for the spirit of levity. Visit her website.
We are delighted to announce that our keynote speaker for the Laugh-Fest 2017 will be internationally admired performer and teacher Robert Rivest. In addition to being a renowned comic mime artist, he is also an accomplished health, literacy and stress relief educator, a gifted mindfulness teacher, a certified laughter yoga master trainer and an engaging public speaker. Since 1990 Robert Rivest has given over 7,000 presentations in Europe, Asia, Africa and across the U.S. His mission is to use mindfulness, laughter and the performing arts to bring health and happiness to individuals and organizations around the world.
At the Laugh-Fest he will be performing a mime and giving a workshop called "Mindfulness, Expression and Laughter Yoga". You won't want to miss Robert's inspiration. You can also train to become a certified Laughter Yoga Leader with Robert at his workshop May 4-5. Visit his site to learn more and register.
Clint Darr just gave a TED talk and now he's coming to Laugh-Fest! His journey with laughter as an everyday educator turned him into a laughter powerhouse among his peers and has given him national acclaim for bringing a humorous approach to education in the afterschool environment with the simplicity of laughter. Sharing the outline of his TED program and the anecdotal stories and strategies he’s incorporated along the way, prepare for BIG FUN as we explore how to engage, energize and boost afterschool programs in your communities. Discover the wide range of life benefits personally and professionally and the techniques that keep it flowing, while exploring the benefits we offer others. ROTFL guaranteed!
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