On Tuesday, October 30, 2007, comedian and inspirational speaker Jud Laipply spoke to a crowded room inside the Colgate Memorial Chapel. Colgate students were lured in to get free “Colgate Runs On Wellness” T-shirts, and these proved so popular that, when more T-shirts were brought it, a mob formed around them. As the shirts indicate, the show was run by the Colgate Wellness Initiative and the topic of the night was wellness.
This was in no way a boring hour of health class.
Laipply combined comedy with his words of wisdom for a brilliant performance without the slightest dull moment. He did impressions of distinct types of laughter that were hilarious and dead-on. He also emphasized that laughing is important to health. Laughing for a full ten minutes is as helpful as a few hours of REM sleep.
The whole evening carried on in this manner. It felt more like Laipply worked tidbits of his philosophy on life into his comedy routine, rather than having a few funny moments in a speech. Yet he got his points across very eloquently and emphatically.
Laipply also interacted with the audience. He explained that choices shape an individuals’ life by having the audience play a game. Each person stood facing a partner with his hands behind his back. On the count of three each person held up a certain number of fingers. The first person to yell how many fingers were held up between the two people won that round.
While it may have just seemed like a fun, silly game, Laipply soon illustrated its connection to the importance of choice. Each person chooses a strategy, like planning how many fingers to hold up before it is time to show your hands. He explained choices shape success and happiness.
The one thing Laipply said that he wanted his audience to take out of his show was that “Life is change.” He said that the world evolves, and people evolve over their lives, changing as they grow up.
As an example, he explained that music is always evolving. This lead into his dance, “The Evolution of Dance,” which is the most popular video on Youtube, and has resulted in Laipply’s nickname, “The Evolution of Dance guy,” a name that comes up in our conversations and even in the fliers for his speech.
In six minutes, Laipply performed dances from the most popular songs over the last 50 years. The series of dances in his act included “Thriller,” “The Chicken Dance,” “Bye Bye Bye” and “Baby Got Back” among other popular favorites.
It is safe to say that while Laipply’s audience laughed hard, smiled wide and thoroughly enjoyed themselves during his talk they took a valuable lesson out of the event at the same time.
It is no small achievement to get wellness issues across to young adults without force-feeding the information to them, and it was impressive for Laipply to do so in such a relatable way.