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WHAT'S A COMEDY KEYNOTE CONCERT?
(A conversation with Greg Tamblyn for the U.S. Army Health Promotion Conference)

What do you call yourself?
A Transformational Humorist and a Musical LAF-ologist. I also like to joke that I've attained the coveted NCW degree: "No Credentials Whatsoever." But the truth is that I do have a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology.

What is a Comedy Keynote Concert?
It's a keynote presentation that features songs to illustrate the ideas. Most speakers use stories and sometimes jokes to expand their message, and to connect with the audience. And I use them too, but I really feature songs, both funny and serious. The great thing about music is it's a different way to get the message. The mixture of music and speaking gets to different parts of the brain. There's more of an emotional connection with the material.

You clearly weave humor into your message through song. How do you see humor as being helpful in conveying a message of health?

I see humor as being helpful in conveying a message of LIFE. I mean, what is life without humor? Plus, humor is like music--it gets to a different part of the brain. And now we have all these studies that attest to the healthful benefits of humor, of laughter, really. If you can laugh about something "serious," it puts it more into perspective. It doesn't seem so imposing.

How do you describe what you do?
I'm sort of an idea collector, an idea synthesizer. I used to write love songs in Nashville for that market. But I became interested in wellness and ways to live more effectively, and the music just sort of followed along. So now I write what I call "Life Songs." These are usually about some idea, some "guidepost," that helps us down the road of life, or some attitude, some "roadblock," that holds us back.

Like what?
Like the things that have helped me get through life: optimism, kindness, compassion, friendship, gratitude, connection, laughter, humor, self-awareness, universal love, feeling a part of some mystery greater than myself. Sometimes I quote Charles Kettering, who said, "Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get."

What are some "roadblocks?"
Fun stuff, like control issues, raging egos, victim mentality, having to be right all the time, hostility, out-of-control Type-A personalities, self-doubt, family issues, relationship issues, and even the effects of our culture on our psyches. All this stuff can be hilarious when you step back and look at it, and how it keeps us from where we want to go.

Can you give us an example of a song about a "roadblock?"

We take ourselves so seriously. I have a song called "The Shootout at The I'm OK, You're OK Corral" about an argument between a husband and wife where all they do is yell titles of self-help books at each other.

So how did you become interested in "living more effectively," as you call it?
I was basically dragged down this path of self self-awareness, self-responsibility, personal growth, emotional maturity and responsibility. I had a very difficult year about ten years ago. Lots of inner turmoil. On top of it all I ruptured my spleen. As I was recouping from that--writing new songs--healing my spleen--a new career path emerged I didn't know about. People heard these songs and I began to get invited to speak and sing at places I'd never even imagined: medical conferences, corporate wellness events, health promotion conferences, addiction recovery conferences, hospitals, schools, churches, and so on. It's been a fun and challenging career. I never envisioned it. And the great thing is I'm always getting exposed to new ideas, which frequently become songs.

Can you give us an example?
Sure. I wrote a song after hearing about Evy McDonald, the first and one of the few persons to ever recover from Lou Gehrig's Disease, A.L.S. She basically healed herself by deciding to learn how to love herself before she died. Twenty years later she's still going strong. Amazing example of mind-body medicine. Another example is a brand new song about atoms. I read an article by a psychologist and brainwave researcher named Patricia Norris called "Psychobiology, Psychosynthesis, and the Search for Self." One of the points of this article is that we're all connected in ways we never even realize. For example, we share atoms all the time. And we share atoms with people and plants and animals that are long dead. Well this really got my wheels turning, because I could see so many opportunities for fun here. So I wrote an amusing song that also makes the point that we're all connected in this very basic way. And it also gave me the opportunity to rhyme "dinosaurs" with "Dinah Shore."

So what will you be doing for us at the conference?
If I knew I'd tell you! Seriously, I think we'll have some fun with some of these things we've been talking about, and see how they relate to wellness.

Where are you from originally and where is your home base operation these days?

I grew up in Kansas City, lived in Nashville, New Orleans, New Mexico, the Caribbean, and now the global headquarters for my company, TuneTown Records, is back in Kansas City. (816-756-0069) I'm happy to be living there again. It's right in the middle of the country and easy to travel from. Plus, my family's there.

And where do you go from here? Where do you see yourself in five years?
Boy, I don't know. When you've played for the Army, you've pretty much reached the pinnacle. It's kind of all downhill from here, don't you think!


Tamblynís music can be heard, and ordered, online at www.gregtamblyn.com.

© 2007 Greg Tamblyn

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