top of page

Pete McCann, The Laughter Man

Updated: Aug 23, 2021


In this episode I sit down with Pete Cann, The Laughter Man! He is on a fun filled mission to bring the positive benefits of laughter to the world. Since discovering Laughter Yoga, company owner Pete has transformed his business and family life and now wants to share his infectious secrets and get the planet laughing along with him.



Listen here!


If you enjoyed this episode please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and share the podcast so it can reach more people that it will serve and benefit.


Pete has a five day laughter challenge you can join at: https://petecann.com/5-day-challenge-opt-in/ Follow me on Instagram @alexmcrobs and check out my offerings in yoga, meditation and coaching at http://themindfullifepractice.com/live-schedule.


Full episode


TRANSCRIPT


Intro

Welcome to the Sober Yoga Girl podcast with Alex McRobs, international yoga teacher and sober coach. I broke up with booze for good in 2019 and now I'm here to help others do the same. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how.


Alex

All right. Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Sober Yoga Girl. I am super excited today because I have a really unique guest with me all the way from Bristol in the U.K. I have Pete Cann "The Laughter Man". So welcome, Pete. How are you?


Pete

I'm really good. Thanks Alex. Thanks for having me.


Alex

Yeah. Thanks for coming on. I really appreciate you being here.


Pete

It's going to be-- we're going to have some fun today Alex. I hope. No. I know we can have some fun.


Alex

Awesome. So let's get into it then right away. I was wondering if you could tell me a bit about your story. Sort of your background, where you're from and sort of what your childhood was like.


Pete

Yeah, sure. So I like to say I'm in the UK so I well actually, I was born in Germany because my dad was in the forces. So he was in the army. So I traveled with him for till I was five. Then my mum said "no, we need to get a base whilst that carried on being in the army. So we moved to somewhere just about 50 by about half an hour from where I live now. I grew up, had a good childhood. It's good. Yeah, life was good and then went into hospitality when I left school and sort of worked in kitchens as a chef and also sort from the house waiting manager. And then I started working as an agency for supplying people in an agency and then set up my own agency. So I've got my own chef agency have been doing that for 13 years now. And then the laughter yoga came onto my radar back in 2016 where I love--just let you know how that challenged got into my life? Yeah maybe.


Alex

Jump into it. Yeah.


Pete

There was a festival called WOMAD and in the South West and I was walking through the arboretum and I heard laughter and I thought to myself there must be a comedian on stage. I like laughing. Let's go see what's happening. Walk round the corner. 100 people lying on their back laughing. I was like "what's going on". I know I'm at festival but this is crazy. And there was a sign saying "laughter yoga daily at half 11". So I said to Chloe, my wife and the kids, I said "Look, Daddy's going to get to do laughter yoga tomorrow. Do you want to come?" And they're like "No. Go and do it. Enjoy yourself Pete". And so the lying down a bit of the laughter session is the end of the laughter session. So you do lots of different laughing and breathing exercises. Your body doesn't know the difference between fake and real laughter. So actually after probably about five minutes to do these fake exercises, you start laughing genuinely and you get all the benefits and we can cover all those in a bit. But when we lay down at the end, I just-- I was just laughing uncontrollably and for probably about 10 minutes. And then Steve, who was running it, said "Right. Everyone just calm down. Let any last giggles out". And someone just run it next to me. And that was it. Boom. I was off again for probably about another five minutes. And then we do a meditation right at the very end. And so we went through this sort of five minute, ten minute guided meditation. I sat back up in the field and I felt really--I felt high. If I'm honest, I felt really like just awakened. I just really just yeah, life and everything was just buzzing in my mind. And I remember going back to Kingsfield where Chloe was with the kids and my eyes were just like that. And she was just like "what are you on?" I know we're at festival but what I-- "This is laughter". And that was it. That was the start of my journey. I just needed to discover more of it. And the following year I did all four days at the festival, just properly dived in. And then I learned how to become a laughter yoga leader. So I started doing that officially trained in 2019 and then was doing it like a day, a week. I was doing laughter and then running my business as well on the side or the other way around. And then obviously Covid came along and wiped out our business, when I didn't wipe it all out the business. The hospitality shut down in the UK, so there was no need for any pub. any chefs that we supplied. So I just started laughing regularly with a group of people three or four times a day. Just because of my mental health. I actually I need this because someone had taken this this away from me, you know, and as you know, I'm sure a lot of listeners you know, could appreciate. You couldn't control Covid like everything that happened though it wasn't as if you went, Oh, this happened for a reason. And it happened because I did this and this. It was just literally someone just came and just ripped the rug from under our feet and I started laughing. Like I say daily with these people and after a couple of day, a couple-- probably two weeks. I was like "This works". It works online. Don't get me wrong Alex. It's not as powerful as being in person laughing in a room with somebody that that's a real powerful place but laughing online is still works. So I just then all of a sudden went actually I'm gonna to start doing this and I start getting into some businesses. Reaching out to people that I knew and said "Look. Let me come into your team meeting. Let me bring 30 minutes of laughter. And then the "Laughter Man" just was born. So--yes. So there you go. That was a long version of my story so far.


Alex

That's amazing. And you know, it sounds like you had a really similar business journey to me in that my business really begun with Covid when I was forced to improvise. You know, I was no longer teaching yoga in the studios and gyms. And then it was like Zoom Yoga was born. You know, and I totally agree with you in that. Like, obviously there's power and being in a room. But the beauty of the online modality is like you can bring it to people wherever they are in the world and you can reach so many people through it who might not be able to come in person in real life and so it's pretty amazing.


Pete

Yeah. Definitely. And it's you know, don't get me wrong, I can't wait to get in person.


Alex

Yeah.


Pete

It's going to happen. I've got a couple of bookings already, but it's-- yeah. Just and it's just like I say, it just really helped me at that point.


Alex

Yeah.


Pete

And it's helped a couple of times in my life discovering laughter because you know, it was just a really quite dark place when Covid came along.


Alex

Yeah.


Pete

And actually there was some you know, some people were like looking at me. What are you laughing Pete? What's so funny? You know, you're actually worried about me. Going look your business is like going and why are you laughing? I was like because it makes me feel good. I can't control anything around me but can control this thing. And by laughing, that's how I was controlling it. Don't get me wrong. There's still days where I'm just a bit like actually by going through the process and you know we mentioned clubhouse previously to come alive.


Alex

Right.


Pete

And so every morning for ten minutes I'd laugh on clubhouse and you know, sometimes it's like two or three people in the room and I'll get them up on the stage and we just laugh together. And it's a bit selfish for myself really because I want to get to that laughter high as well. So but you know, but obviously laughing with other people, it's much more infectious and it's much more contagious.


Alex

Right. I have a question for you. So did you have any yoga experience before you tried laughter yoga?


Pete

Yes, but not massive. I mean I've done--- you know, I've got I think it was called a sunrise routine I was doing for a bit.


Alex

Okay.


Pete

It's like a ten minute workout in the morning. So I've done that. I've been to Bikram yoga once. My wife was really into Bikram for quite a long time. So she took me to that one day, which was hot. So, you know, and then I think because also when we say laughter yoga, a lot of people think you know, we're going to be doing downward dog. Do we need the yoga mat--


Alex

Right. That's my next question.


Pete

Yeah. Well you don't know the yoga beat is all about the breathing. It's all about yoga breathing because--


Alex

Wow.


Pete

We get fresh oxygen into our lungs. So when you laugh, you exhale further than you do when you normally exhaling.


Alex

Okay.


Pete

So and-- so basically the whole premise of laughter yoga is that you're taking a shorter inward breaths and longer outward breaths, which I believe is the same as yoga as well. So--


Alex

Yeah, it's a Pranayama practice. So there's no Asanas like there's no postures in laughter yoga?


Pete

well, if you count this as a posture ?


Alex

That's it. Wow, that's amazing.


Pete

Yeah. So I mean, you know, don't get me wrong. There are times but, yeah, that there isn't a postures as such. It's all about play. It's all about being childlike because children laugh. This is crazy. Children laugh two to three hundred times a day. Okay. And then as adults we're lucky maybe ten, maybe 15 if we are really lucky. And you just got to think well, what at what point in my life did I stop being a child and laughing just for laughter sake? It's like you think when you walk past a playground at lunchtime and all you hear is laughter and the sound of joy and you know, and as adults, we just don't get that. So and what's really interesting is because it's very playful. I mean, like saying the move, but there's lots of movement. I move my arms up so you can see this. But there's like this giggle phone is one way you put your phone. Yeah. And you laugh like it's the funniest thing you've heard. Then you pass the phone to someone else. They laugh and it's all about eye contact as well. But it's all about being childlike and getting yourself out of that. Right. Well, actually you know I'm 45. This is all a bit serious really. Right. And that's probably the I think the hardest barrier to entry is people being very reserved and going actually I don't want to be a child, but then it's got so many benefits of being and acting like a child.


Alex

Yeah. Wow, that's so cool. And I, you know, I was a teacher for a long time. I taught six year old kids and I was thinking, as you were saying, that like yeah, we didn't have a lot of laughter in the classroom. And I wonder, like, what do you think makes people stop laughing so much as they age?


Pete

I think now I'm thinking of back at my past, sort of. But I think once we hit puberty and start teenage things get a little bit more serious. I think you still have giggle fits with our friends. You've definitely times at school where, you know, you weren't meant to laugh and you just couldn't help it. But I think when once you get a job and then you have to pay your bills and then you get your debt. When you get the credit card and then you get a life and then you just as well being programed by all of this negative volumes coming at you. I think that's you know, where I believe we stop laughing. We stop being child like. Atleast I don't watch the news at all. I haven't watched news for well, I say I'm watching every now and then it comes up to my radar but purposely I turn the radio off when I'm the car. And the news comes on because it's all negativeness and it's like-- actually, why can't we have like our laughter or just a happy upbeat. Yeah, the news today is, you know, some of us have had a baby today a healthy... And there was a-- I don't know lambing season and... And just all positive happiness because you would just be, yeah, just driving around in a much happier headspace.


Alex

Yeah. So let's talk about that kind of leads us into you know, you mentioned experiencing depression. What was it like living with that?


Pete

So I-- I'm going to rewind a little bit to another bit where I really laughter massively helped me. So with Chef Agency, I created this app where I borrowed 130 grand and 130,000 pounds to create this thing and and it didn't take off. So but what happened was where I borrowed the money, the company that I borrowed it from wanted it back because we naively borrowed it on one business to start another business completely naively. But three days before Christmas, we had a letter in the post saying "you've got seven days to pay the money back in full or we're going to put a charge on your house".


Alex

Wow.


Pete

And all of a sudden, you know, for me personally and also I'd spent 18 months trying to create something that didn't go. So I felt like a failure.


Alex

Yeah.


Pete

My mind I was really dark in the mind. Really dark to the point where I was just like, "what have I done to my family? What have I jeopardized our house? What have I done?" Been really stupid borrowing this money to create this thing. And I just went into this very dark place where I was questioning my own being. I suppose would be the would be the main thing. You know, it's just like, why am I here? What what what's the point of being here? Was there any point in being around? And that's sort of the darkest I've ever been and the darkest thoughts I've ever had. And I remembered at that point it was vividly we're on holiday. And I was-- that was when I was having the thoughts of just like, what am I done? What have I done? This is a great. And then I remembered the laughter yoga. So I went and went online on to YouTube and just found some laughter yoga videos. And just I remember being in the sand dunes and just on my own, just watching on the screen, just laughing. And all of a sudden I just not saying it's just like, oh, but it was just like I could feel the energy starting to lift. And I just started practicing that more and more often. And we manage to you know, get some solicitors as well to fight, you know, to fight the causes so there was a lot of stuff that happened. But the laughter was definitely one of the main cause that really helped me sort of lift that fog in the mind.


Alex

Wow, that's amazing. When they're doing these, like laughter yoga exercises, like I'm trying to picture it like, are they just inviting you to start laughing? Are there jokes like what is it that what is it like if you're looking at a laughter yoga video?


Pete

So if you're watching it laughter yoga video, it's all about just acting. Being like, let's say, being childlike. So one of the exercises that we do. So hopefully this is a visual thing. But if you're listening, it's like putting a like your cell phone or your mobile phone to your ear. I do this now and there's no one on the phone at all, but you can put it to your phone and just start laughing like it's the funniest thing I've heard all day. And this is the sort of stuff that you see. So that just go and just the sound of laughter. I mean, Alex I could see you've been in already, you know--


Alex

Yeah.


Pete

It's just got this infectiousness about it. And so when you're watching some laughter yoga videos, it's usually groups of people that are just doing these childlike things. But the like say when I said about lying down again, when you watch these people, you literally just see the joy in their eyes when they're just crying with laughter and they're just euphoric moment. And yeah. So that's of what videos look like really.


Alex

That's so cool. And you're totally right. That is infectious. Like as you started laughing I automatically just started laughing with you. It's like a reflex, you know.


Pete

Definitely. And this is a thing as well. It's really powerful when I mean like on zoom it we're all obviously all in our boxes. So it does work. But when you're in a room and one person goes and then--and someone just as literally uncontrollably laughing, then you just and you're doing these exercises, then you start laughing. And then there's times where-- so I do the session. The festival that I actually run this session is now because the guy stood down. I had 150 people--


Alex

That's amazing.


Pete

That Around me just laughing. And just like that energy of just, just hearing this laughter and yeah, it's just an amazing place to be.


Alex

That's incredible. And so what does your online like you said that you do it online as well. What does that look like? Like do you have a website where people book on? You mentioned that it's on Zoom. Do you have like a community that's practicing together regularly? Like what?


Pete

So the I suppose the offering that I've got at the moment is I'm more sort of corporate leaders are where--


Alex

Okay.


Pete

They need to go. So I approach different H.R. managers and well anyone that's got a business really a team of people. And the offering is they--it's a 30 minute session on Zoom. The first five minutes is an introduction into laughter. Why we need to laugh, what are the benefits? My story. Why? Why I laugh. Then we go into like a 15 to 20 minute practical session where I've got a set list that I know works because it's proven now. Which is really nice because this is the thing that so many different. Like, they don't postures that often different exercises. I know that actually, if I do this one before this one, this will take the head space that will then put them into this place. So we do this 20 minute session and then I do a five minute to 10 minute grounding meditation at the end. And it's just wonderful when you see a team of people, especially at the beginning, that will wrap it in a head, like just going, what is this guy doing? And he's just there laughing. And then and all of a sudden, you've got like Sandra in account laughing with David in finance or whatever, you know, which is to say in finance and accounts. I don't even know why now. Though-- yes, when we do the meditation at the end, I always get people to rub their hands. Put them over their eyes and just come back with a smile. And everyone's just sat there just with a net till it just blissed out. And I know that they found a wonderful well being work out. You know, it's magical.


Alex

And that's amazing because at a time like you know, what we've been going through for the past year and a half with people feeling isolated, people feeling like lonely at home, I definitely felt disconnected. Like I was working full time at the beginning of the pan