“Leave your message after the laughter” instructs Allen Klein’s voice mail. Indeed, a raucous belly laugh ensues before you are allowed to voice your message.

Calling himself a “JollytologistⓇ”, the best-selling author has written over 30 books about humor, positivity and keeping one’s spirits high.

The 85-year-old San Francisco resident is not superficially cheerful or shallow in any way.

The wellspring for his inspiration came from profound grief at the death of his wife Ellen in 1978. While they shared many tears during her long illness, they shared many laughs as well.

“The laughter uplifted us and helped us get through that moment. It helped us to move on and have perspective,” he said.

Looking for solace after her departure, he pored over weighty tomes about grief and finally threw up his hands. Where was the relief and uplifting that he was seeking, he wondered.

Ultimately, he created that himself. Klein embarked on a master’s degree in human development and chose the healing power of humor as his thesis subject. Eventually, published as a book in 1989, “The Healing Power of Humor” became a best-seller.

It has been though 40 printings and translated into 11 languages to date.

He continues to write about the positive and the jolly. His over 30 books include “Embracing Life after Loss,” “You Can’t Ruin My Day,” “The Awe Factor” and “The-Lift-Your-Spirits Quote Book.”

A dapper man whose vibrant bowties match his pocket handkerchiefs, Klein spent his early career as a scenic designer for CBS television. He created the sets for nationally known shows such as “The Jackie Gleason Show,” Merv Griffin, and the children’s “Captain Kangaroo” show. This latter assignment for youngsters impelled him to consider the scenery and props that would appeal to that audience. “For 10 years, I had to have a positive, childlike view of the world.”

The child’s mind expanded his perspective to seeing all the world afresh every day. This became the subject of “The Awe Factor: How a Little Bit of Wonder Can Make a Big Difference in Your Life.”

He now calls AWE an acronym for “A Wow Experience.” In the book, he avoids cerebral definitions of the term and prefers to call it “any experience that knocks your socks off.” He offers guidance on how to absorb, extract and exult in the sock-knocking parts of our lives. For instance, on a trip to of the Netherlands, he drunk in the headiness of its multicolored tulips. But he also peered into the heart of each bloom to capture the patterns and shapes within.

Always busy with new projects, he is a celebrated public speaker. His TEDx talk is “Our Thoughts and Intentions Create Our Reality” in which he describes his determination to create experiences by being determined to keep the desired wish in mind. His manifestations include his wish to participate in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving parade and to acquire a Victorian house: the house he resides in now, for instance, with his husband therapist Dave Cooperberg. 

“If I have a passion for something, nobody can tell me I can’t do or have it,” he insisted. For example, he was drummed out of Yale University drama school’s scene design department for not being creative enough. But his ensuing career gave Yale the finger as he found abundant work at CBS television. Meanwhile his former classmates were still in classrooms.

Past president of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, he is now preparing an address for its annual conference in April in Denver.

Does the impresario of chuckles ever have down days? Sure. But he carries an antidote with him. Klein is always armed with red rubber clown noses. “Once I was traveling and the plane was three hours late. Everyone was grumpy,” he recalled.

Klein pulled a red clown nose out of his bag and gave it to the flight attendant who gamely posed it onto her snout. People lit up as they passed her. “But I was astounded to see how many would not smile. They decided to hang on to their anger.”

This is not the Allen Klein way.

Instead, as he told Time Magazine in May 2023, “When you wake up in the morning, say, ‘I’m going to find one thing today that I can giggle at or at least smile about.’”

That’s the JollytologistⓇ way.