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It seems cruel to laugh, but… waaah! and…. oww!

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Laugh on the other side of your face

English: Watching a comedic television show he...

Watching a comedic television show helps provoke laughter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Laughter’s good for you. We know this. It causes all sorts of healthy jiggling about of organs and ions and lively goings on inside you. It puts you in touch with yourself… in fact it does much the same as a vigorous massage. It connects you with yourself, and with the wider world.

You can’t be afraid when you’re laughing, you can’t be angry, you can’t move much, you can’t even talk properly. You can’t feel lonely if you’re laughing. It’s a Very Good Thing. You feel full of life

I mean proper laughter, not nervous laughter or tormentor’s laughter, which come from somewhere different in your psyche. I’m talking about the helpless, spontaneous, happy laughter that surprises and captures us.

Do you know… laughter is universal in humans, and in many mammals (probably all mammals, if we knew how they all laughed). We know how dogs laugh, and how rats laugh, and how chimps laugh.  It’s a social glue, it’s reassuring, and appeasing, and bonding, and is about more than responding to something funny. Laughter is infectious – can you hear someone laughing helplessly without joining in?

Laughter by tickling

Laughter by tickling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We laugh 30 times more often in company than when we’re alone. That’s why so many TV and radio comedy shows use a laughter track, to encourage us all to laugh together. We might find something funny if we’re on our own, and maybe it makes us smile, but it’s relatively rare to laugh out loud.

When was the last time you laughed until your ribs hurt? It’s SO good for us to laugh like that, that if someone hasn’t produced a laughter app, they should do. You should. We should. Anyone know about producing apps?

So if you haven’t laughed for a while, catch the bug from YouTube or Vimeo; go to a free BBC comedy recording; go to a comedy club, or best of all, go to a laughter club or workshop. Lie about with a bunch of people and laugh yourself to a jelly for no reason whatsoever. You feel fantastic afterwards!

Laugh and the world laughs with you

I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.’     – Audrey Hepburn

It really is one of the best medicines. Laughing not only releases lots of feel-good emotions (is it seratonin or endorphins? never can remember) but it gives you a pretty good work-out. You know that feeling – when you’re laughing so much it hurts, when you get to the point of hysteria when you’re reduced to whimpering because you haven’t got the strength to laugh any more? Feels fabulous. Better than sex. Well, better than the sex I’ve had recently.

If you haven’t laughed like that for a while, go to a laughter workshop. You’re all lying on the floor, not looking at each other, and trying not to laugh. When someone tells you not to laugh, you’re reduced to the status of naughty child, and the naughtiness bubbles up in you. A snort escapes you, then a giggle, and you try to stop, but the giggles are turning into a torrent, and you surrender to it. You’re shaking, ribs working like bellows sucking in air to power the laughs, your whole body jerking and juddering. You’re lost in it, helpless in the grip of growing hysteria. When the laughter dies down, everyone gasping for breath and  moaning, there’s some fool who gets the giggles again and you’re off, worse than ever, roaring and shrieking, heels drumming on the carpet, mouth gaping to release the gusts of laughter until you’re too weak to laugh any more, ribs heaving, muscles aching, limbs limp, tears leaking down your face, listening to your fellow gigglers in the same state of exhausted release, feel-good factors washing through the room and flooding you with endorphins so you can think of nothing at all. All you can do is feel. Feel your body buzzing, feel the utter satisfaction of intense exercise and uncontrollable joy.

If a laughter workshop isn’t your bag, get infected by someone else’s hysteria. Google clips Brian Johnson getting the giggles at a test match as Peter Willey failed to get his leg over the wicket; Robin Ray collapsing helplessly as he reads the story of the opera Carmen, Basil Brush losing it with Uncle Derek, or Kenny Everett doing almost anything. Basil Fawlty with concussion. If I find the clips, I’ll add the links here, but tell me your favourites. Please – I could do with a laugh. So could you. Grab the joy. Audrey Hepburn recommends it.