Keefe’s new company brings comedy where it’s desperately needed ? the business world

Humorist Joe Keefe, Humor Resources’ fearless leader

Last year was the best year in the history of Joe Keefe’s Humor Resources. Actually, it was his only year.?The last quarter of 2002 was admittedly a little soft, but this year is starting off gangbusters as he hits to road showing corporations how to laugh -? or is that get a laugh? Could be a good sign for the economy, too, that big business is spending again.

For 20 years, until November, 2001, Keefe was busy building Second City Communications into a $3 million division. Splitting with the fun factory over a management disagreement, he opened his company for “improv training for business and humans” the very next day and hasn’t unpacked his suitcase since.

This week, Keefe is conducting a workshop for his staid pharmaceutical client in Las Vegas, his fourth trip there in 12 months. Next week, Miami, where he will have 14 professional improvisers on-site to train another pharmaceutical client.?Other regular clients are in Louisville and San Francisco. None wants their identity exposed.

Last year Keefe gave 25 Improv Workshops and Creative Collaboration Workshops, his biggest seller. It combines creative thinking with teamwork, and shows uptight corporations how they can lighten up without seeming to be foolish or trivial, he says.

Keefe cites Southwest Airlines as a company that gets it. “They make banal information interesting,” he states, by instilling attention-getting humor in the safety check instructions that nobody listens to. “When we can do that, it cuts through the clutter and identifies you (the corporation) and makes you more attractive.”

Keefe’s mission so far is proving quite successful. Fees range from $1,000 to an impressive $26,000. Cost depends upon the number of attendees and the number of experienced improv performers he assembles locally and from Los Angeles when he’s workshopping on the West Coast.

This year Keefe anticipates conducting 60 workshops. So much business brings him to the reality of opening an Evanston office and a hiring a staff. His current staff consists of wife, Karen, and standup comic Emily Dorezas.

Also in his plans is a Comedy Summit that will pretty much resemble his Jan. 15 SRO workshop for MCAI members. The Summit’s goal will be to “assist people in corporate communications the right and wrong way to use humor,” he says.

Last year also gave the Wilmette native a chance to write two books. He calls his joke book, Being Irish, “the most important book in the history of mankind – if you’re Irish or know someone who drinks beer.” But the serious Improv Yourself: Business Spontaneity at the Speed of Thought is rapidly climbing the Amazon sales charts.

Complete workshop details found at