The Seed of a Nonprofit

Laughing on the Inside, Inc. (LOTI) grew from Teresa’s journey through comedy classes at the San Francisco Comedy College. There she discovered that the craft of writing and performing comedy could create a constructive channel to explore life experiences, both positive and negative. On stage, by sharing her own comedies, Teresa connected to others, and that connection brought validation, transformation, and healing.

Teresa began LOTI to bring the experience of personal development through comedy into women’s prisons. Because incarceration can force inmates to examine their lives, Teresa hopes that teaching comedy to women prisoners will give them more tools to reflect and rebuild.

“Like many people, I was ‘between jobs,’ laid off from a tech company during our long recession. As I readied my resume for a daunting job search, I reviewed my aspirations alongside my work experience. My job had always been separate from my passion, which is writing and performance; originally in music, then solo theatre, and most recently, in stand-up comedy. Was there some way for me to do passionate work?”

A clear inner voice responded, “Yes! And also be of service.” Ah! Passion and compassion.

“I have friends who’ve taught art to prisoners, and they reported how much their work was appreciated and how receptive inmates are to learning. This made sense because, in an environment of crisis and challenge, if given tools and support, many people can transform themselves for the better.

“I knew I wanted to bring women inmates a unique curriculum that would help them reflect on and transform their lives. Bringing comedy classes to them seems like the perfect coming together of needs and opportunity.”