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From Mindfulness to Playfulness

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“It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.” – Thomas Aquinas

Everyone is talking about mindfulness. I think it is equally important to talk about playfulness. Our two recent guests on the podcast – Clive, Tyldesley and Wayne Garvie are great believers in the power of poking the bubble of pomposity with playfulness.

Both of our guests have built their careers on using humour to communicate with their creative teams and the general public. From television to broadcasting, our guests know that when you get people laughing, they will listen to what you have to say.

Clive Tyldesley is a legendary voice in the world of sport. As one of the most recognisable voices in commentary, he has covered a plethora of Premier League matches, memorable moments in World Cups, Champions Leagues and even the Olympics. For Clive, Comedy and communication go hand in hand.

“I get a big kick out of making people laugh or smile. It’s fulfilling. It’s infectious. It can be seductive.”

Clive is a firm believer in the playfulness that comes with a sense of humour. Being able to poke fun at his colleagues and the athletes on the pitch has solidified him as one of the most recognisable voices in commentary. For Clive, Humour helps connect with humanity and humanises the biggest names in sport.

“I think humour is the very best form of human checks and balances.”

Wayne Garvie is the President of International Production at Sony Pictures Television and he too believes that humour is the way to connect with humanity. For Wayne, humour is a tool to help humans deal with the hardest of hurdles.

“I think that’s right. Of course, if you know you’re going to have a difficult conversation with someone, which, in my line of work, you have to have a lot of that, the way you cut through it, your backstop is always the humour. Once you build that relationship, you can laugh about something. You can even approach some tough conversations through humour, can’t you?”

Garvie knows that comedy can work as a lubricant for communication and connection. As a leader of one of the world’s biggest television studios, he uses humour to poke fun and build rapport with his creative teams. These connections help Garvie lead with grace.

“I think humour is a way that cuts through a lot of life’s complexity, isn’t it? You’ve got to be humorous. You’ve got to embrace humanity, I suppose. To your definition of Humourology, it’s about understanding and liking people, and wanting people to do great things.”

Both of our wonderful guests understand that playfulness can help pop the bubble of pomposity when dealing with some of the most famous celebrities in the world. Through comedy they can connect and communicate with mass audiences as well as the creative teams that help great athletes and actors come to life.

Paul Boross and Alistair McGowan

I too feel that teasing is a very important part of humour, friendship, and sharing rapport. I experienced a classic example of this when my great friend Alistair McGowan recently introduced me to the stage at the Ludlow Fringe Festival. This was his introduction…


“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Assembly Rooms for our first event at the Ludlow Fringe Festival. Our speaker has travelled all the way up from London to be with you tonight. He is a psychologist, a comedian, and a former pop star. He’s the author of Humourology – The Serious Business of Humour at Work. Which you may have noticed on sale outside the theatre before the show. It will also be on sale outside the theatre after the show. He’s also the host of the award-winning Humourology podcast available from your podcast provider.

He’s also just been made an MBE for services to business and social mobility – through not for services to comedy and pop music! Will you please welcome Paul Boross!”

Having known Alistair since our early days at the Comedy Store, it was a joy to be teased by him, and I was laughing all the way to the stage.

One of the things about knowing people really well is that you should be able to have a real playfulness and the ability to take the piss. It is all part of the Humourology ethos that it is really important to be able to laugh at oneself and be the butt of the joke.

All the many highly-esteemed people who have been guests on the podcast, including Wayne Garvie and Clive Tyldesley, have reiterated again, and again that being able to laugh at yourself is one of the most important traits and the ability to understand that we are all ridiculous and need to occasionally be taken down a peg or two invariably adds to all our humanity and humility.

Alistair is a lovely, generous man and a great sport so he took it in his stride when, later on in my set, I had a little comedic dig back. I was talking about the psychology of how to make a good first impression when I quipped,

“… talking about first impressions, I am so pleased that my friend Alistair McGowan is here with us tonight as he’s my second favourite impressionist. (Pause) He’s good, but let’s face it, he’s no Claude Monet!”

Remember – you only tease the ones you love.

 See you next Tuesday.


 Paul x


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