Dave is the author of ‘The Little Book of Laughter’, ‘Rocket up Your Class’, ‘The Book of Invisible Teaching’ and a contributor to the ‘Big Book of Independent Thinking’.
Dave is 6ft 2in, blue eyed and a little bit ginger and believes that within that description lies a little bit of something for everyone.
Dave ‘Billy Elliot’ Keeling grew up in a pit village in Nottinghamshire and was tap dancing three times a week by the age of ten. Never one to shy away from challenge and risk, he then moved into the world of acting and trained at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Dave has worked extensively in theatre and television. His credits include:
Dave also has a background in stand-up comedy and has gigged up and down the country, enjoying laughs, cuddles and salty snacks with anyone who cared to join him.
Dave has been Laughologist since 2008. Highly engaging, dynamic, fast-paced and quick-witted, he has been delivering workshops and programmes for Laughology in education, health and business.
As a facilitator, presenter and trainer, Dave has worked nationally and internationally in business and education for the last 20 years. He specialises in change management, improving teamwork and communication, developing creativity and enhancing wellbeing.
He has worked with:
In education, he has worked with students, parents, NQTs, teachers, SLTs and headteachers, delivering outstanding training on topics as wide-ranging as risk-taking, curiosity, managing change, leadership, thinking skills, memory, P4C and the brain. Dave has also worked on Laughology’s Happy-centred schools programme.
I trained for three years as a classical actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, the same drama school that Benedict Cumberbatch attended. After I left, I realised very quickly that I wasn’t going to be acting full-time and even when I did get work it wasn’t very well paid. So, in my early twenties, I started to plan what else I could do. I didn’t want to work in a bar or wait tables like most jobbing actors. A friend asked me to do some work in schools for him. It wasn’t an area that I had thought about but in a very short space of time I learned loads and started to realise that with my performance skills and knowledge, I could put across information in an interesting way.
As an actor, I had always been fascinated by behaviour and relationships because that’s what acting is. I had a degree of intuitive emotional intelligence. I would watch people and study how they behaved. That developed into an interest in psychology. I wanted to learn more about people and their foibles and behaviours.
I was presenting at a conference. I was doing the morning and Laughology CEO, Stephanie Davies, was doing the afternoon. She saw what I was doing and liked it. We talked and I became involved from there.
The real test for me is authenticity. Very few people who go out and talk to audiences practice what they preach. A lot say stuff, but they don’t do it.
The Laughology team have a broad range of learning and development skills to back up their specialisms, what would you say your strengths are?
I am great at being a catalyst in a room. I’m good at being deployed to create a buzz and an atmosphere. I can shift a room. Being a facilitator allows me to engage with people and be playful.
I’d say that 60 to 70 percent of the time, you turn up to an event and people have had a long day of very dull keynotes. That’s the challenge I enjoy. You never know what you are going to get and it is my job to make sure those people leave that room feeling better than they did when they went in. The trick is to create an environment where people feel happy, and then hit them with some stuff that they’ve not thought about before. And that’s what Laughology does perfectly.
People are living longer and working longer. They no longer retire at 65 and businesses have started to realise that they have to keep people happy and healthier for longer so they can continue to be productive. There is also much more awareness of mental health issues. In education, primary schools have always been on board, and now Secondary Schools are getting there too. They are realising that although kids are leaving school qualified, they are not necessarily employable because they are missing the other stuff, which is what we talk about at Laughology; empathy, relationships, confidence, self-awareness and the ability to express thoughts and ideas. With all that’s happening in the world, people are having to get good at coping with change. And that feeds into everything we do in Laughology.
Simple. I’d ban homework. Nobody likes it. And I’d only employ people in schools who genuinely enjoy and like the company of young people.