Mouth for Sale: A Doctor Walks into a Ballroom ...

Brad Nieder, MD, makes health and wellness a laughing matter.

A recession may not seem like the best time for belly laughs, but it turns out that's exactly what people need right now. As your mom probably told you: Laughter is the best medicine. And you can bring that medicine right to the ballroom at your next event. Brad Nieder, MD, who bills himself as "The Healthy Humorist," marries a stand-up comedy style with health and wellness information during his keynote speeches and presentations.

Nieder has always had a passion for comedy and he cites George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, Howie Mandel, and David Letterman as early influencers. In college, he was a founding member of Stanford University's improvisational group, Simps, which is still going strong today. While attending med school, he started dabbling in stand-up, attending open-mike nights at local comedy clubs in the Denver area. But as he moved from school to his residency, Nieder had less and less time for stand-up, so he eventually decided to try to combine his love of comedy with his skills as a doctor.

"I could be the funny doctor and do health-related humor," says Nieder of the first time he really considered becoming a health-related humorist on the speaking circuit. He acknowledges "it was an agonizing decision to get off that safe path" of practicing medicine, and he adds that "everybody thought I was nuts and my parents wanted to kill me."

Seven years later, he's still going strong. "When I started, I thought for sure that the health care industry would be my target. I was surprised and pleased to find that I wasn't as narrowly targeted as I thought I might be," he says. Nieder has since spoken to groups as varied as realtors, financial professionals, and members of the mining industry.

"I talk about how laughter affects us. There's a little bit of science, but not enough to bore people," he explains. Nieder does explore with groups the results of studies that show the impact of laughter on pain management and stress levels, as well as general wellness information on how to stay healthy and happy.

"I want to give them some laughs, but inform a bit, too. Laughter relaxes us and the immune system gets a little boost every time we laugh," he says. "The net effect is that it keeps us young."

The effect on attendees is that they have another tool in their stress management arsenal, spend an hour or so laughing and learning, and leave feeling calmer, more relaxed, and inspired to face the day ahead.

Fee: Starting at $5,000

Originally published July 1, 2009

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