Episode 4 of the Changed Podcast features BJ Lange.
BJ is a retired USAF Reserve medic, who following a career (and life) altering diagnosis while on active orders, became enrolled in the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program (AFW2). He is both an ambassador and mentor in the program and now serves as the applied improv comedy coach teaching wounded, ill, and injured service members and their caregivers how to use improvisation as a healing tool as part of the program's wellness and resiliency arm.
Most people know BJ Lange for his dynamism and his charismatic demeanor as a host, actor, and comedic improviser. BJ has been seen on MTV, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Comedy Central. He is also an instructor at The Improv Trick, 3-2-1 Acting Studios, and The Second City Hollywood where he leads the Improv for Veterans Program.
I met BJ at an improvised comedy and theatre festival up in Alaska where we instantly hit it off... as is true of many people who participate in the improv community. There's just something about the connective tissue of shared joy...
BJ has had to face one of the toughest blows to the ol' joy-meter, a diagnosis of testicular cancer... not once, but twice. So when he talks about resiliency, he's been there. Hell, he is there!
Having witnessed my mother's journey battling breast cancer, I can tell you that I've seen the psychological toll that lives on the other side of simply doing what it takes to stay alive.
What strikes me about BJ's story as a survivor though, is that through everything: the heartbreak of diagnosis, the awkwardness of simply living in the real world while receiving treatment, and losing out on opportunities because of compromised health, BJ has remained a heart-driven, service based individual. The harder his own challenges, the bigger his passion to bring more joy and resiliency into the world seems to grow.
When we sat down for our 45 minute conversation we ended up talking for nearly 2 hours. Part of that is because he likes to talk... part of that is because we are both improvisers and kept dissolving into doing comedy bits, like introducing our feline pets to each other over Zoom, and part of it is because at one point (as the trained host he is...) BJ turned the questions around, and started interviewing me! (Click here to check out that interview).
For ease of listening, I've edited things down to the meat of BJ's journey and it brings me a lot of joy and pride to be able to share our conversation with you.
Learn more about the Armed Services Arts Partnership at ASAPASAP.ORG
If you haven't already, check out the inspiring conversation from last week with best-selling author and founder of the Art of Change--Dr. Rick Kirschner.
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