My heroes growing up were comedians, which Mel Brooks called stand-up philosophers. George Carlin, Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin: these storytellers were allowed to talk about touchy subjects in a way no one else could, because they used humor.

In 2002, I started studying Improv at BATS theater in San Francisco and in 2014, I moved to Chicago to study improv; sketch, comedy and memoir writing; and to do stand-up at The Second City. Apparently, I’m not so bad at the stand-up (check out the video below), but until comedy shows end at the reasonable hour of 8.15pm, I’m in retirement from performing at clubs. Recently, I contributed to Trump’s America: The Complete Loser’s Guide (Simon & Schuster, 2016) from editor Scott Dikkers, co-founder of The Onion.

More importantly, the lessons I’ve learned from improv (and the stand-up philosophy of comedy) make it into every Find Your Voice writing exercise and workshop I teach. I’ve also taught creativity through improv on an adventure cruise ship in Alaska, a manor house in the English countryside, and to GreenPeace in the UK.

If you’ve ever wondered how to say ‘gynecologist’ in American Sign Language, here’s your chance.