In this episode, we welcome Tristan Gandolfi! Tristan has used her education and experience in improv comedy to start up her non-profit and high school classes. Additionally, we spent the entire hour she was in the office laughing at all her witty jokes and in awe of the passion she has for helping students progress.
Beginning her passions in teaching her 4th grade class in Chicago, Tristan used comedy to help her and her students cope with the hardships in life. When she moved back to Arizona she worked with Seed Spot and used all she learned to create her own non-profit Humor Writes. Humor Writes has reached about 500 children since the beginning. They work with schools for workshops, semester long projects, and even with teachers themselves. Additionally, Tristan has begun helping high school students create businesses with her entrepreneur class.
Beyond all the laughs, Tristan is truly inspirational and we are excited for you to dive into this episode and feel moved by all that Tristan does by following what two of her passions.
Spending just an hour with Tristan you’ll realize what a true ab workout feels like she had us laughing so hard. She is filled with wit and is never afraid to say what is on her mind and it is truly hilarious. Tristan was introduced to comedy while she was in school at ASU. Auditioning for sketch comedy troop and more or less, sucking at it, she found her comedy calling was improv. She interned with local comedy theaters and quickly started incorporating her improv skills into her everyday life.
Tristan uses the improv rule “Yes, and..” constantly in her life. The rule is to say yes and add something awesome to it. She praises this as the way she approaches life. She can roll with the punches of life so seamlessly in a way she couldn’t have before improv. Working in at-risk schools is not easily done. Tristan says,
“Comedy was a great coping mechanism for the stress and the struggle of everyday life,”
again crediting what she learned as a light in her life.
BRINGING COMEDY TO NON-PROFITS
With her idea of “improv being a stepping stone for creative writing,” Tristan found Humor Writes. She used a curriculum that would implement her time on the stage to help kids in confidence and writing.
“I began infusing improv comedy into the classroom…and it was kind of the saving grace for all of us.”
Since starting her 501(c)(3) Non-Profit, Humor Writes has now worked with nearly 500 local students helping them write, create, and perform their own show. Her program has been found to increase reading score by 60% and equally or more importantly, 98% increase in self-esteem.
In addition to her non-profit, Tristan pitched herself to grow her own curriculum for low-income high school students and other teachers. The entrepreneur class gives students the option to bring their ideas to life in their business model projects. The students use Lean Canvas models to create their passion projects and can win money to start their own business.
Tristan loves the way children and her students can work through real life issues.
“They’re young so they don’t really know “no” yet.”
When she talks about recent tragedies she says, “they don’t miss a beat, they’re not avoiding going to school, they’re coming up with solutions.”
Tristan has always felt that students and children have a huge power to make a difference and find solutions. With the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and recent immigration laws, Tristan watched kids make plans for change and truly lead us. She began reading, her son, Adler headlines from anything from celebrity gossip to world news.
“If we’re not talking about it at home, he’s going to be exposed to it somewhere.”
She wants her son to grow up informed and compassionate of others, hoping introducing him to current events will lead the way for his own knowledge.
Tristan also had some pretty awesome advice when it comes to new parents and raising the future president. She says, if things feel off or your load is getting too heavy don’t be afraid to renegotiate your contracts. As we grow we can reallocate our time and Tristan says this has been the best advice, dealing not only with growing as a family, but growing in life. She also says that you need to focus on yourself and shift your wants and needs as you grow and change.
We told you. She’s awesome, right? We also have to say, she is so quotable. We want to leave you with one of our favorites from our talk with her.
“We often think the decision we make are contracts for the rest of our lives. Make shorter contracts. I constantly write mine in pencil.”
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
Donate to Humor Writes: http://www.humorwrites.org
Learn more about Seed Spot: https://seedspot.org