Fifth and sixth grade students at Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy are supplementing their reading, writing and math with a little humor. They’re participating in the Humor Association’s first comedy class for students.
Khalil Washington is one of the students. “If you’re down or something and somebody tells you a joke it makes you laugh. It makes you feel better,” said Washington. “Humor changes from sad to happy.” He and other students are learning how to use comedy to gain self-confidence and improve their public speaking skills.
Gina Chiappazzi is the president and one of the instructors. She said the Humor Association helps teach children how to handle the pressures of life like peer pressure and bullying, through humor and laughter. They learn to talk to and in front of others telling good-natured stories and jokes not put-downs.
“We’re really focused on using humor to enhance people’s lives, especially children, at risk youth and victims of suffering,” said Chiappazzi. “For a lot of comedians humor is therapy and we want to take that as something that we use for self-esteem building and combating peer pressure and bullying.”
“I used to always get bullied and it made me cry sometimes,” said 11-year old William Gates. He told WANE 15 the Humor Association has helped him feel better about himself because kids laugh with him and not at him. “Laughing is fun. It’s joyful. I made a lot of friends in this class”.
“One of the things we do in class is we take a fear and we turn it into a mic drop moment for the kids,” said Chiappazzi. “They take something they don’t like about themselves, turn it on its head and turn it into something they like about themselves. Doing that is something pretty powerful.”
The eight-week long course was created by Humor Association founders and comedian Joe Deez. The students of Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy are Humor Association’s inaugural class. Comics takeover Ms. Toya Phillips class at Thurgood Marshall for one hour, once a week. “It has been a great takeover,” said Phillips. “This allows them to take whatever is going on in their lives and turn it into something positive.”
Chiappazzi and Humor Association members decided to use their backgrounds in history, education and social work and love of comedy to start their nonprofit organization. “We were looking for schools that were open to alternative forms of teaching and Thurgood Marshall welcomed us,” said Chiappazzi. “It’s great to have Thurgood as the first school to really help establish us and get us off the ground.”
The students will get to showcase what they have learned during a comedy show at Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy at 1:30 pm on Friday November 2nd. Tickets cost $1 and will go towards a pizza party for the class to celebrate. The show will be approximately one hour long. It is open to the public. Family, friends and members of the community are encouraged to attend. For more on the Humor Association visit www.humorassociation.org.
The Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy campus is located on the campus of Come As You Are Community Church at 7910 South Anthony Boulevard in Fort Wayne.