Part of the Humourology series
Season 2, Episode 16
Tessy Ojo, CBE – Leading Diana’s Legacy of Love
Tessy Ojo, CBE is the Chief Executive of The Diana Award – the only charity that bears the name of Diana, Princess of Wales. She joins The Humourology Podcast to discuss the power of gratitude, hope, and humour.
Ojo shares stories of hope to talk about how a sense of humour can get you through the hardest of times. Whether running a business or a charity, Tessy knows that when you lead with lightness, everyone wins.
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Paul Boross is joined by Chief Executive of The Diana Award, Tessy Ojo CBE. Ojo shares her experience as a leader in charity work to discuss the power of humour in inspiring hope. When working with young people, Ojo knows to work with humour and compassion.
“We want to create solutions, we want to create a better future, we want tomorrow to be better for young people. So, our work is hopeful, our work is about bringing joy and hope to the lives of young people.”
Much like the Princess of Wales herself, Ojo places the nation’s youth at the forefront of sustainable community change. Join us this week to hear how a sense of humour can help bring hope to humanity in the hardest hour only on The Humourology Podcast
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Hosts & Guests
Jessy Ojo, CBE
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The Humourology Podcast: Tessy Ojo, CBE – Leading Diana’s Legacy of Love on Apple Podcasts
– You could spend all of your time thinking about the things that are wrong, or you could also find space to be grateful for the things that are. I suppose I always think about gratitude as my default attitude in that sense. And humour kind of allows me to see the beauty of life.
– Welcome to the Humourology Podcast with me Paul Boross, and my glittering lineup of guests from the worlds of business, charity, sport and entertainment who are going to share their wisdom and their use of humour with you. Humourology is the study of how humour can dramatically improve your business and your life. Humourology puts the fun into business fundamentals, increases the value of your laughing stock, and puts a punchline, back into your bottom line. Please remember to like, subscribe, and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. My guest on this edition of the Humourology Podcast is an award-winning CEO, humanitarian and campaigner. She has proudly and passionately produced programmes that have created positive change in communities across the country, as the Chief Executive of The Diana Award, the only charity that bears the name of Diana, Princess of Wales. She has built a career out of putting children at the centre of community-based sustainable change. She is a passionate humanitarian and campaigner who has gained an international reputation for work around building youth leadership, and tackling systemic inequality. When she’s not overcoming challenges with her charities, she spends her time contributing to the country’s most comedy minded committee, Comic Relief. In 2019, she became the very first British national to be honoured with the prestigious Martin Luther King Award. In 2020, she was given a CBE in the Queens honours list for her contributions to children and their communities. Her brightness brings a legacy of lightness and laughter into young people’s lives. Tessy Ojo, welcome to the Humourology Podcast.
– I don’t believe that’s me you’ve been talking about. Thank you for making me suddenly feel like an imposter, that’s amazing, who’s CV is that?
– Well, but every word of it is true Tessy. And actually I wanted to let people know that you will have done some extraordinary things in your life. So it took me a while to get through them, to be honest with you, but it was worth it, so people know.
– It was actually a joy to listen, and you read it out so perfectly, you said it all so, well. I was impressed by that CV myself.
– Oh, well, bless you. You work with some very serious issues. I mean, involving children, and communities, and inequality. How do you create space for humour amongst all that.
– Do you know, humour, I see humour as the best medicine. We live in, you could spend all of your time thinking about the things that are wrong, or you could also find space to be grateful for the things that are. And for me, I use, I see, I’m a very, I suppose I always think about gratitude as my default attitude in that sense. And humour kind of allows me to see the beauty of life because sometimes you see the ugly side of life like you rightly said, you see the inequalities, the disadvantages, all of the ills in society. But every now and again, you really have to almost stand with all of that with thankfulness, with a grateful heart, and just finding the beauty that’s in life.
– I think that’s a beautiful thing the sort of an attitude of gratitude, as you put it, is very, very important. And presumably dealing with very serious issues as you do with the charity, it means that you have to have a lightness of touch because otherwise it will drag you down. Do you find that to be true?
– The interesting thing about the work we do at The Diana Award, it’s about offering hope. So the biggest thing is about how do we bring solutions? So our work is always, whereas there are problems, our work… We are not the people that will shout about there’s a problem, we are the people that would say, this is a problem, but this is also how we can fix it. So we are always coming at issues, problems with a way out, a hope about a better tomorrow. So I think it’s a completely, it helps us see the end in that sense. It helps us see the better tomorrow. I remember for example, I remember when the pandemic first happened, and the Queen gave the speech, and it was one of those speeches that was just incredible that we were only begin, it was only the start of the pandemic, the start of lockdown, and yet she talked about tomorrow will be better. And there was just something so hopeful about that statement, even though 18 months on, we’re not quite there yet, but there was something that she offered us that was so hopeful that gave everyone something to hold onto. And that’s usually our approach at The Diana Award that yes, there are problems, we want to create solutions, we want to create a better future, we want tomorrow to be better for young people. So our work is hopeful, our work is about bringing joy and hope to the lives of young people.
– So, I mean, hope is characterised in some way by humour, isn’t it? If you can see the funny side of something, it can give you hope, because if you’re really in the midst of, and a lot of people you work to help are in the midst of very, very serious situations. So hope and humour and humility are really a big part of the Diana Award, are they not?
– 100%. That’s literally, you would not see us ever just talk about a problem. You would always see us talk about problem, but offer hope about solution. Always, there has to be a way. If not, there’s no point pointing the fingers all the time like a lot of people, that happened, you don’t need us to point the fingers again. It’s about how can we create a way out, what’s the way out? How can we offer hope? How can we bring joy? Like I often talk about one of the things I know, we think about Princess Diana, and one of the things that she stood up for was highlighting the problem, but always kind of offering a solution to that problem, going where the pain is, but also saying, there is pain, but this is how we can help. So it’s almost making sure we’re doing both at the same time. Yes, we go where the pain is, but we also bring solution, we also offer hope, we bring joy, that’s key to what we do.
– I’m fascinated because you said about going to where the pain is, and offering some light in that situation. And you mentioned Diana, who obviously is the key to the Diana Award. She was known to be warm, charismatic, have a lively lightness of touch and compassion. How can people bring that into their lives? Those traits that Diana had into their lives? What are the keys to doing that?
– One of the things, firstly, that’s such a great question, and when we were set up as a charity, it was really to instil the values that we so adored in Princess Diana, the values of empathy, kindness, selflessness, and just that ability to care deeply for other people, without any gain. And that’s kind of the work we do. We are constantly helping instil those same values in young people. Our society, I think one of the things that we’ve, as we’ve progressed as society and as we’ve developed, we’ve also sadly lost some of those natural humanness about our lives, that ability to connect with people, that ability to care, to be selfless. A lot of the time, we’re always in pursuit of self. It’s got to be me, myself and I. And that’s such a dangerous place to be because that just gives us this tunnel vision where we care about nobody else except ourselves. Do you know, actually this morning I was, and it’s completely in tangent, but this morning at the gym, I had my earphones on, and I was listening to music on Spotify. But this advert came on and this, and I was intrigued by this advert, and I didn’t know what the advert was about, but it was a lady who was saying, she was saying, I woke up this morning, I was going to work, and I was so tired ’cause I went to bed late last night. But as I was going to work, I noticed a man and I knew that there was something wrong and I decided to do something. And so I went to him and I said to him, “Do you know where I can get coffee around here?” And that connection meant that he was distracted from what he was about to do. And she then went on to say he was about to jump off the cliff or something. And I was captivated by this advert. And the whole advert was about promoting, just reach out, talk to someone. It was just a simple as that, and what a great tactic that advert, I remember it so well, I’m telling you now because that’s one of those basic things that we’ve lost, we’re so involved in ourselves that we just lose sight of that ability to care for someone else, the ability to notice that there’s someone around the corner who’s struggling, or there are people in our community who need our help. And we cannot build a society on selfishness. It has to be grounded in selflessness, compassion, empathy, just understanding. I might not know you, I might not, being positively curious about our neighbours. Being curious to say, “Oh, I haven’t seen that person in a while. I better check on what’s happening.” Not in a nosy bad way, but in a positive, curious way.
– I think that’s a hundred percent right. Because I think it’s about connection. And if we walk out into the world with blinkers and we go “No, what can I get out of this?” Well, actually I think it’s very good for the soul and for business to look outward and go, “How can I connect with somebody today? How can I bring some,” and this is very Humourology project, “How can I bring some lightness? How can I bring some laughter into somebody else’s life?” Because as you say, that little bit of connection might be the difference that somebody needs. And I know that your amazing work with the Diana Award is about bringing lightness, bringing laughter, bringing hope into specifically young people’s lives. But I think, for our audience to take away, that anybody can do this, obviously they can come and volunteer, or they can give some money to the Diana Award, but also they can go out into the world and create these things as well.
– 100%, one of the things that we, when I think about the pandemic, and whereas we’ve been incredibly focused on health and getting the vulnerable sorted out, and keeping everyone safe, this week, we’re looking at A-level results, GCSE results. The lives of young people have been hugely impacted by the pandemic. And I know that they will be the longterm victims of the pandemic because when we start thinking about health and everyone’s vaccinated, and we’ve moved on, and the economy’s back up running, there are young people who have lost out on years of learning, who will leave with the impact for a very long time. So I think in terms of how can we intentionally support the next generation, that’s one of the things that we are so, we are just so focused on making sure that young people’s future is secure because in some way they’ve been left behind. So again, just to your audience, if anyone wants to be part of this vision, wants to be part of this. Honestly, please find us on our channels at Diana Award, volunteer your time, give money, anything you can do that’s about supporting young people to live a better life, to improve their life chances, to build back better, given that they’ve been impacted by the pandemic, that would be amazing.
– Well, and just so you know, from a psychological point of view, the more you give the better you’ll feel. And so actually when you’re giving, you are giving to yourself as well.
– Absolutely, actually can I tell you a story? I would not think of myself as someone who’s funny, but this is a really cool story. So when the pandemic happened, and everybody was working from home, I wanted to do something. So we were obviously making sure that we were supporting our young people, and we’re all pivoting, and making sure young people were well looked after, but I also wanted to do something in my community. I wanted to be able to be helpful, be useful. I mean, I wasn’t isolating, I wasn’t in any of the risk categories, so I just wanted to be able to give back. And so I signed up, I saw an advert in my community about volunteers were needed to help make lunches, just sandwiches and stuff, Monday to Friday for people who were shielding, and it was being run by a local church. And I thought, oh, do you know what I’m going to sign up? So I signed up to be a Friday delivery. I couldn’t do the whole day lunches, but I could deliver lunches to a group of people. So I was a Friday delivery driver. And so I was assigned to this group of people and I was to them, every time I turned up in their door, and I had this, maybe I had about 20 people, I had to deliver lunches to. Every time I turned up, I was just the delivery girl. That was all I was. And I had, and one of the days, the best, and this is that feel good factor. I tell you the best part of it was, there was a lady who was always in her pink PJs. Well, she had different shades of pink. And every time I turned up on a Friday, I always commented on her PJs and I always said, oh, you look lovely, I love this colour, I love the bit of pink, whatever, you know. Anyway, there was a day, and we’re not allowed to like go into their houses, obviously you have to just knock and leave the bag by the door, and they come on and say hello. One of the days I knocked and she stepped out and she brought me a present. And I said, “Oh God,” because we’re not really meant to touch because obviously, this was the height of the pandemic. And she said to me, “It was my birthday yesterday.” She must be in her sixties. She said to me, “I’ve never had a birthday cake, but I knew you were coming, and I wanted to bake a share a cake with you. So I made a cake last night, and can we have cake and tea.” I burst into tears. When you talk about volunteering, you get more. I did not do this just to… I wanted to just do something. This woman gave me. I don’t know, do you get what I’m saying, it was the best feeling ever. I mean, I said to her, “I’m so sorry. I would love to have tea and cake with you. I can’t, because I don’t want to… I’m meeting lots of people because of my delivery role, your shielding, I don’t want to… But I will happily take your cake and I will go home, and I will raise a glass for you.” But it just want the best feeling ever.
– Giving is the best feeling ever. And I always say to people, if you think about Christmas or birthdays or a holiday season giving, I think it’s always much more fun to find the right thing for somebody else to make something, to give something, that’s the greatest feeling. It’s much better than receiving. So, I think there’s, people can think, oh, it’s selfless and it’s , but actually you take away a huge amount from this. And that’s a lovely story. What makes you laugh Tessy?
– Oh God. Anything to be honest. I’m easily pleased when it, I can laugh at anything. I think just life in general, I just love to hear stories. I love stories. Like I thrive on stories. So I love to hear stories of what’s happened to people people’s real life stories, and the good and the bad and just things like that just bring me joy.
– Is there any comedians that particularly make you laugh, or is it just real people?
– Well, I mean, I probably, it’s probably more real. I mean, people like… This is probably a different level, but I know like growing up, watching people like Mr. Bean, he was just a whole different level in that sense ’cause it was the height of like, the minute you turn it on, you know, you’re literally going to laugh from, laugh or cry or just pull your hair from just watching him. But I just think real life stories make me laugh just stuff that’s happened in real life. When I see my daughter doing crazy dances, who’s 23 and last night she came into my room and I said to her, “What is this you’re doing?” She goes, “I’m break dancing.” And I’m like, “Oh my goodness, who’s crazy child is this.” And it’s little things like that that really bring me joy.
– Oh, that’s lovely. Well, you talked about stories. Can you tell us a true, funny story about something funny that’s happened to you?
– Oh my goodness, I was hoping you weren’t going to ask me this. So I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you a couple actually but they’re all kind of linked. So obviously I went to the royal wedding, the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which was incredible. And I was, because the media had a heads up that we were one of the charities going, it meant that we had quite a number of interviews. And I think we had a number pre, and on the day. And so on the day, I think I was just the level of excitement was off the roof. And I think I was in an interview with the BBC. And I can’t remember what she asked me, but I was, I think she said something like, “Can you believe that you’re here?” Because we had done a few pres, and now this was the day and she was like, “Can you actually believe?” And I think I said something like, “Oh my God, somebody pinch me.” That word got made into a GIF, which every now and again, every now and again, I get people saying it to me. And it’s a really, really, I will send it to you. It’s a really, really funny thing ’cause it has me in this lovely dress and the hat, and this GIF is going, “Somebody pinch me, somebody pinch me,” and it’s just hilarious. I just find that so funny. The other thing that was quite funny, but in a kind of interesting way was, after this interview, obviously I’m walking into the chapel, and guess what, my shoes, my heels got stuck.
– Oh no.
– Do you know who helped me undo this? You would never believe, Idris Elba.
– Oh, well.
– My first meeting, he’s helping me undo my shoe. It was the most embarrassing. But then at this point I’m thinking, “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness Tessy. Only you would be heading into the chapel for a wedding and your shoe gets stuck.” But then actually when I’ve told the story, when I look back, I’m thinking, it’s the most, it’s hilarious, it’s so funny that I think, of course it had to be me that that happened to.
– We talked about Harry’s wedding, which is an amazing event. And I know that you’ve, and I’ve worked with Harry on School of Hard Knocks. He’s a very, very caring man as is William. And how gratifying is it to have them really showing those same traits of caring, of compassion, as their mother, and that legacy of love that comes through.
– It’s incredible. I mean, it’s such an honour to be working alongside both of them. And it’s wonderful. when you talk about Diana’s legacy, I mean, we often talk about Diana’s legacy, for us we are trying to, our work is to instil that or pass that legacy on to generations of young people who never met her. But actually her legacy is seen, her sons carry out those activities. Her sons continue those values of compassion, of service, of actually I don’t, I do this because I care deeply. I know firsthand that both princes would never do stuff because “Oh, it’s my job to do it.” It’s always been, “We care about something, and then we’ll get involved in that stuff.” So it’s incredible.
– And also, what I know about both of them is that they have great senses of humour. They love to chide, they love to tease, they love to play. And I think that that lightness of touch is what brings people in and makes people trust them. And the whole Humourology project is about understanding that wherever you are in society, you have the ability to connect through humour, through lightness, through chiding, playing. And that is where the warmth comes from. And if you’ve got that kind of warmth, you can be compassionate, and you can change people’s lives like you, William and Harry are doing so beautifully with the Diana Award.
– Well, absolutely, and thank you for saying that because ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to do, to change lives of, to work alongside young people, to help create a better future. And yeah, absolutely, you need all of those, you need to care deeply and you need the warmth, you need to be able to be compassionate, to just empathise. You don’t have to have walked in people’s shoes to understand what they’re going through, but you can empathise, and you can listen to build that empathy.
– Yeah, I think 100% true. Is everyone funny?
– Oh, that’s a good question. I think it depends. I mean, not everyone’s a comedian, not everyone’s great at making up jokes or creating jokes, but I think it depends on your outlook. Everyone has the potential to be because it’s about your outlook, isn’t it? It’s about just learning not to take everything so seriously, it’s learning to find gratitude in life and to just, you know, my shoe got stock, but hey, guess who rescued, who was my Knight in shining armour? Like if that didn’t happen, I probably wouldn’t have met him, right? That’s an outlook. That’s a perspective. It’s about how do you see life? Do you see life from a glass half full or glass half empty? And I think we all have the potential to just have humour, to sprinkle our life with a little bit of laughter, a little bit of joy, just so that we live a better life.
– I think that’s so true. And from a psychological perspective, I think it is. You mentioned a very important word which was attitude. And who’s in charge of your attitude. When I’m doing lectures around the world or working with CEOs and board level people, I always say that I walk into a room and I know this about you because when we met before, I know this, you must on some level do what I do, which is I walk in assuming that everybody is lovely because your attitude will display on your face, won’t you? And this is something our audience can take away. If you’re walking in going, “I bet the people in here are really miserable.” Your face will show it. You’ll display that. And I know that your face lights up when you see people. You are genuinely, and your story about going around and delivering meals during the pandemic, what did you do? You presumed everybody was nice, didn’t you? And that attitude purveys, and pervades your very being. And there is something that I think anyone can do. Change your attitude, change your life.
– 100%, I couldn’t agree more.
– Now you work in places where you have to deal with very difficult situations and people, and especially young people who are in very difficult situations. As a humanitarian is humour part of that healing process?
– Again, coming back to that hope, there’s something about perspective, there’s something about being able to offer hope, being able to offer, being able to help change people’s perspective. Even if the situation hasn’t changed. When you are able to begin to, one of the things I try to do, I try to do all the time is to be intentionally thankful because that intentionality means that I’m able to see what was, I’ll give an example, what is a cup of coffee, could suddenly become a whole gallon of coffee because of your attitude and your perspective. And I think that ability to bring some laughter, some joy, it might not be absolute laughter in that sense, because that might not be appropriate at that time, but it’s about how do we make what is meant to be, like I was giving the example of that person who’s shielding during the pandemic, and going around delivering sandwiches. But every time I arrived, saying how beautiful her PJs were. And however, there’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of fear around the pandemic and of situation is dire, absolutely. But still this case, even in that frame, to offer a compliment, to give something that brings joy to someone. I’m not fixing the problem, I’m not taking her out of isolation, I didn’t come with the vaccine, I just came with a cheese sandwich and a packet of crisps. Well, even in doing that, by saying “Your PJs are amazing,” I didn’t buy her a cake, she chose to, because of the way she felt inside of her to make herself a cake for the first time in her 69 years. That’s incredible, right?
– I think you came with more than that. I think you came with a cheese sandwich, a packet of crisp, a smile, and a positive attitude, and warmth. And those are the things that makes a difference. Anybody can throw a cheese sandwich at someone and go, “There eat!” But it’s actually the love you bring with the cheese sandwich and the packet of crisps is actually worth more to everyone. And I said in the introduction that you were the first British national to win the Martin Luther King Award. Now Martin Luther King was renowned for his humility. I think it’s sometimes, ’cause I’ve read quite a lot about Martin Luther King and his early life. I think we forget to humanise some of our heroes. And I was reading that he had the most wonderful sense of humour, especially when he was young and he was with fellow preachers behind closed doors, and would share jokes all the time. And what he was doing, according to the biographies I read, was using humour to deflect from the gravity of what he saw, what he felt, and what he lived on a daily basis. Do you think that that humour aids resilience.
– 100%, I mean, that’s so… I mean, I hadn’t seen that, but absolutely there is a way of, again is that being able to deflect, being able to offer some form of, do you know, laughter releases hormones in us that is so important for our mental wellbeing. It’s so important for our resilience. The whole point of offering hope is to build resilience, to say, you got this, we will make it, tomorrow will be a better day, better days are coming. All those words are words that are completely geared towards helping you build resilience for a later date, to give you assurance that the next day will be better, even if I don’t know that for sure. And that’s in some way, that’s part of what, I think what humour does is help you release the endorphins that helps you feel good, improves your mental wellbeing, and allows you to hold onto hope.
– I agree 100%. What would the world be like without humour Tessy?
– Oh my goodness. I don’t want to live in a world without humour. For sure, I think that, oh, humour is so important in our world. I know that, like I said, laughter triggers the release of endorphins, and it’s just, our world would be boring, quite frankly, without humour.
– Pitiful as well, I think.
– Sure, 100%.
– You as the Chief Executive Officer of the Diana Award have to run a big operation. And as a chief executive and somebody who sits on a lot of boards, if I asked you to write a business case for humour, what would you include? Because you know that businesses now are talking about the bottom line and what we can cut and everything. Why would you put humour on a business case, and what would it include?
– That’s a really good question. So I think for me, obviously, like what I said earlier was that laughter triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins are important because they promote an overall sense of wellbeing, which is, you know, we are living in strange times. We have just been through a pandemic, still going through that. And so I would 100% in a business case put in, I want ultimately my team to be mentally well, I want my team to thrive, I want my team to feel that they have all the tools they need to come into the workplace. I would absolutely employ, if I could, a yoga laughter teacher to support my team thrive in this time, because I know that if I did that, and if we could successfully support the team through intentional laughter like yoga laughter, I know three things will happen. I would increase my team’s mental wellbeing, I would improve their general levels of happiness, which invariably improves their levels of engagement, but also I think I would reduce sick days. If they’re happier, healthier, I would have, they would take less time off ill.
– Well, you’ve just given me the perfect case ’cause you’ve included the return on investment. So even the finance director has to take note of that, doesn’t he?
– Oh, 100%. I mean the finance director wants productive days, obviously what’s the point of a vision, or what is the point of a business without its staff. You have a vision, you need people, your people matter. One of the things that really struck me the most, in this pandemic actually, was your people matter. A business without its people is nothing. And you have to, whilst you might be, for a charity where obviously our beneficiaries are young people, are a huge priority for us, but so is our staff, so is our people. Our people need to be well, they need to be engaged, they need to, they need to, one of our promises we made to our staff, and to anyone who wants to work for the Diana Award, actually we have some job vacancies, so go and look on our website for job vacancies. One of our propositions to any future employees is that we want to be an employer of choice. We want people to choose us. We want to have employer value proposition that includes, we will look after your mental wellbeing. And so those things are so important to us as an organisation that anything that supports our staff members to thrive mentally and physically is priority for us.
– Well, I think that you are on the cutting edge of where business has to go, because we have children who are no longer children of the same kind of age, and their generation is going to look to businesses to look after their wellbeing, much more than… So, I think it’s even a good business case to be that kind of employer. Because like you say, then you’re going to get less sick days, then you’re going to get people who are happier at work, and it’s proven that when people are happier, they do a better job. So I completely agree. Have you ever taken a joke too far Tessy, and crossed the line?
– I hope I haven’t, because I, I hope I haven’t because I know what it means to, I know how important it is. We cannot be building, part of building empathy and trying to be, being selfless, less self-focused, is about understanding where to draw the line, understanding when that joke is at the brunt of somebody else, which is really, really important to make sure that we can’t be building community and building society, and yet on the other hand, tearing it down, because it’s fun for someone else, but it’s at someone else’s expense. So it’s always really important to be aware of that line. I mean, you know for sure that one of the programmes we run is an anti-bullying programme, which often sees young people who are at the receiving end of what other people might refer to as banter, but banter that crosses the line.
– I think that’s very interesting ’cause I know you sit on the Royal Taskforce for cyber bullying as well. And I was talking to Jo Brand on this podcast about using wit as a weapon to combat bullying. And she was actually giving some really good advice about how to protect yourself, but also how to stop people from doing it by using humour because humour not only protects yourself, it can also actually just push people back. Do you think that a sense of humour to build your own resilience, but also to stop people from bullying you could be useful to combat cyber bullying as well?
– I think it’s a fine line. I think obviously a sense of, like everything we’ve said about building hope, building resilience, and just finding joy in life, and having that balance of not taking everything so seriously, that’s incredibly important. But I think it’s also important not to, it’s also important to be aware of those lines and not to cross those lines and be sensitive to the words that you’re saying and the impact it could have on somebody else, because you might be an expert and say, well, I’m going to use humour to counter a bully, or to push the bully back. But there are lots of other ways, like educate that person say to that person, “What you’re doing is wrong, this is how I feel.” I would rather use other ways. I mean, I think that it depends if you’re an expert and you know how to curve that joke out properly, that deals with that issue, that’s great. Not everyone has that level of skill. And I think the easiest to do, especially with young people is to be able to speak out about bullying and say to someone, “I don’t enjoy that. I feel that joke is at my expense, and I feel really hurt by it, would you please stop it?” Just being able to talk about it and call it out and educate on why I don’t find that funny. I remember when I was much, much younger, this is many, you know, I’m grey haired. And I was grey from my teens. And it used to be, people thought it was funny to say, “Oh, why are you so old?” And I was only a teenager. And actually I just, I’m not that person, that cared much about stuff like that. So I just didn’t care. I always find it interesting now when people will say, “Oh, I love the colour of your hair, how did you dye? Can you recommend the grey?” And I’m like, and I always go, “It’s natural. I’m just like this.” And I just, it’s one of those things where I just learned not to be bothered by them. But if it bothered me, I would’ve probably called out anyone. But it’s just one of those things that don’t bother me. So I think it’s just about individuals. I would always say, look, if there’s a joke that’s at your expense, tell the person straight out, don’t suffer in silence. ‘Cause a lot of people suffer in silence and that’s dangerous as well. Speak out, call it out in the most compassionate way. Tell them, “I don’t like that. It’s at my expense and I don’t really find the funny. And I feel hurt by it,” and hopefully they will stop.
– Yeah, no, I think that’s a very valid way to do it. I think that one of the things that humour gives you, is if you have a lightness of touch when you’re actually telling somebody that, and you’ve created that bond of trust, which can sometimes come through that lightness of touch. It is easier for the message to land as well. But I completely see what you’re saying. Tessy we’ve come to the part of the show called Quickfire Questions. ♪ Quick fire questions ♪ Who is the funniest business person that you’ve met Tessy?
– Paul, it’s got to be you though. I’ve had so much fun on this. I’ve had so much fun on this podcast already. So you’ve got to have that crown.
– Oh my goodness! Of all the episodes we’ve done and nobody’s ever mentioned me. You’re now my favourite guest officially. By the way, what a move Tessy. What a move. Beautifully done.
– You read out my bio, you know.
– I can see why you got to the top, to be honest with you. Flattery will get you everywhere. What book makes you laugh?
– So I’m probably someone who reads more biographies and life lessons. So I wouldn’t really put a book down to a book that makes me laugh because I’ll probably read more teachable, things that I learn from a book, life lessons and things from inspirational books. So I’m going to have to pass on that I’m afraid.
– That’s fine. Is there a film that makes you laugh?
– Oh God, my all time will have to be Mr. Bean. I know it’s kind of a series, it’s not necessarily a film, but I think he, oh God, I know it’s the ultimate, for me it has to go, I have to bring it back. There’s a couple of others. There’s a film called The Diary of a Mad Black Woman, and it is the most hilarious film ever. It’s one of those that I will always go back and watch from time to time. Things like Sister Sister, lots of series. Obviously you can tell my age from the films I’m mentioning. But yeah, so things like, you know, yeah. Hopefully that answers the question.
– No it answers the question brilliantly, and it’s given our listeners things to look up. The Diary of a Mad Black Woman, I’ve never even heard of this. So I’m going to look it up.
– For sure, please look it up. It is the best thing ever.
– Wonderful. Well, taking a bit of a leap to the other side. What is not funny?
– Any joke at someone else’s expense.
– So that’s in the bullying realm, isn’t it?
– Yeah. If it’s at someone else’s expense, or if you’re intentionally trying to make someone small, to make yourself look great, then that’s not funny.
– Oh, I agree. And that’s the trouble with humour as well, you have to be on the right side of it. Cruel humour can really damage people. So it’s about understanding that. What word makes you laugh?
– Oh my gosh, that’s tough. What word makes me laugh? I don’t know.
– Is it pinch now?
– Probably somebody pinch me. Probably. Oh God, yeah, probably. Yeah, somebody pinch me. In fact yeah, pinch would be the word. ’cause it brings me back to that. Thank you for saving me there.
– No. Is there a sound that makes you laugh? Babies’ laughter, your children laughing.
– Babies’ laughter is a great one. My daughter doing silly dance at… I think young people. Do you know what, I tell you the thing that brings me so much joy, is being around young people and their banter, their positive banter. And it’s just hilarious. Like the things they would probably, especially my children, when they have their friends over. The things they argue about, like what’s better, potato or courgette. It’s silly things like that, and the way they take the conversation and the things, the references they begin to draw. I live for occasions like that. I’m just like, I’m here with my popcorn and drink and I’m listening. So it’s the sound of banter for you?
– It is.
– Young people’s banter.
– Would you rather be considered clever or funny Tessy?
– Can I be both?
– You’re asking a lot, but seeing as you said I was the funniest business person you’ve ever met, you can have what you like to be honest with you.
– Thank you, I want to be both. I don’t want to be either. I want to be both.
– You’ve got it. And you see what an easy push over it is. And it’s a life lesson. Say something nice about somebody and they’ll do anything for you.
– This is it, 100%.
– And finally, Tessy, Desert Island Gags. You can only take one joke with you to a desert island. What would it be?
– Somebody pinch me.
– Well, you’re going to spend a lot of time on a desert island being pinched. Or pinching yourself.
– This is it. It’s the memories, it’s everything with that, it’s everything that’s attached because it’s one of those GIF that keeps giving. So when I take that with me, I think about all the times it’s been used, I think about everything around it, all the people attached to that, it comes as a, yeah. It’s one that just keeps giving.
– Well, that’s wonderful. You can have, somebody pinch me as your punchline on the desert island. The punchline that will bring back beautiful memories. Tessy, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on the Humourology Podcast. Thank you for your warmth, thank you for your loving nature, thank you for your lightness, thank you for your compassion, and thank you for being a guest on the Humourology Podcast.
– Thank you for having me, it’s been such a joy. I’ve loved it.
– [Paul] The Humourology Podcast was hosted by Paul Boross and produced by Simon Banks. Music by Steve Haworth, creative direction by Les Hughes, and additional research by Alan Sykes. Please remember to subscribe, like, and leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. This has been a Big Sky production.