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Home / Special Feature / Megan Bryant, creator & director, Idaho Laugh Fest; co-founder & trainer, Zip Zap Zop

Megan Bryant, creator & director, Idaho Laugh Fest; co-founder & trainer, Zip Zap Zop

Banking can be a very serious business.

Megan Bryant. Photo by Pete Grady.

Megan Bryant. Photo by Pete Grady.

Megan Bryant chose to make it as fun as possible. For years, Bryant served as a branch manager for Washington Mutual, U.S. Bank and Washington Trust. “When I got a job in banking, I thought, ‘This is a responsible way to live, and I guess I can handle this,’” Bryant says.

But over time, Bryant became more serious about her life as a comedian. She studied improvisation and produced and performed in comedy shows.

“I started realizing that my improv training really helped me work with my bank team,” Bryant says. “So my business world and my play world started to combine, and I realized that having fun at work and having employees that felt validated and felt appreciated helped them become more successful.

“I really didn’t have a lot of turnover. People liked to come to work, because my branch was always fun.”

But, eventually, Bryant’s “play world” won out over her banking world.

In 2013, she launched Idaho Laugh Fest, an annual comedy festival that recently wrapped up its fourth year.

“It’s starting to feel like it has an official set of legs under it,” Bryant says. “It finally feels like it’s at a spot where it will be a little easier to manage going forward.”

In 2014, she started her business training company, Zip Zap Zop, with her brother.

“When I started to launch Zip Zap Zop we started to test how we can show people that (improv) skills really apply to the business world,” Bryant says. “So when you get a team together, they think ‘Oh, we’re going to have to do skits and we’re going to have to be funny.’ But if you get people out of their normal work environment and you put some humanity back in it, which is what our activities do, it helps people see that we all have different things to offer. And it’s because of those differences and diverse backgrounds and experience levels that we can be more successful together.”

With plenty already on her plate – in addition to her role as a mother – Bryant felt compelled to tackle another big project.

“People were telling me, ‘Oh, it looks like your life is so easy. Idaho Laugh Fest was a success right out of the gate. … Everything you touch seems to be a success, and it seems like you don’t have to work very hard,’” Bryant says. “So I thought maybe I should let people know I’ve had my struggles, too.”

The result was a book with the title of “Not My Plan.” In the book, Bryant writes about keeping her pregnancy as an 18-year-old a secret and eventually giving the baby up for adoption.

“So I had an unplanned pregnancy,” Bryant says. “But the theme of the book is that we all have different challenges, and we need to avoid judgment.”

That’s a great lesson she can one day teach to her children. Bryant recently gave birth to her fourth child, and also has three other children (ages 2, 4 and 9).

So, to be sure, this is one comedian who constantly is performing a juggling act.

“It’s definitely interesting,” Bryant says, “trying to juggle all these work goals with having motherhood as a really important, primary role in my life right now.”

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