Fifteen of your facial muscles are contracting and your zygomatic muscle is stimulated. Meanwhile, your respiratory system is upset by the epiglottis closing up part of your larynx, so that you can’t take in air properly making you gasp. Your tear ducts are activated. Your mouth is opening and closing as you struggle for oxygen intake. Your face becomes moist and reddish purple. You make odd noises.
No, you’re not having a stroke, just enjoying a good belly laugh.
Daughter tells me the other night, apropos to nothing at all, that all her best friends are the ones who can make her laugh the hardest and that if she ever finds a guy who can make her laugh harder than I can make her laugh, she’ll marry him. (I was under the impression that he’d have to look like Johnny Depp as well, but perhaps that’s meant to go without saying).
And when Daughter says laugh, she’s talking about the full out can’t-catch-your-breath, stomach-clenching, tears-rolling, urethra-loosening laugh. (We have some good times at the Casa del XUP, I’ll tell you what.)
How can you not love people who can make you pee your pants with a few spontaneous words of nonsense? I’ve had a few friends like this in my lifetime. My brother used to always be able to make me laugh myself silly. Unfortunately, his quick wit was also the flipside of his quick temper which eventually took over most of his personality and made him a little insane and unpleasant to be around.
In high school there was Tom, who was smart and hilarious but very scruffy. I always thought, “if only he’d tidy himself up a little…”
I ran into him a few years after high school and he’d tidied himself up very nicely indeed. We’re Facebook pals now and he’s still funny.
At university there was a guy named Kel who I always thought was funny enough to make a good living at it. He looked funny; he had oodles of material; he could ad lib like nobody’s business; he had excellent timing and delivery; and could even do his own rim shots when the situation warranted it. I wonder whatever happened to Kel?
After university, the local art gallery hired me and a young woman named Jena to run their summer kids’ program. The very first thing Jena ever said to me was so shocking and so funny, I knew we were going to have a great summer.
I do believe Jena and I lost about 20 pounds each that summer in bodily fluids alone just from laughing. It’s a wonder we didn’t get fired.
By the time summer was over, we’d both found jobs in Toronto and got an apartment together in the big city. We had a few good years until the inevitable happened (as it always seems to). Jena met a man and disappeared off the face of the earth – my earth anyway. Ho hum.
Some of Jena’s quips still spring to mind every now and then and make me smile.
Like my daughter, most of the people in my life have a wicked sense of humour. They may not have me rolling on the floor all the time like these four people did, but we certainly have our moments.
For some other really good gut-clamping laughs, I’m embarrassed to confess that The Three Stooges never fail. I also laughed myself sick at Ishtar. (Only one other person I’ve ever known thought that movie was hilarious.) But I love everything about Elaine May, who wrote and directed Ishtar.
Other things/people I find really, really, really funny are: Steve Martin, Gilbert Gottfried (is he still around?), Monty Python, the original Bewitched TV show (don’t ask me why), Seinfeld (the guy and the show), Chris Elliott, Irwin Barker, Jeremy Hotz and some novelists. There’s nothing crazier than me laughing my ass off while trying to read a book.
And, of course, there are a few bloggers that will make me LOL and ROLF.
Here are some incredibly fascinating, yet surprisingly unfunny facts about laughter:
- The physiological study of laughter is called gelotology.
- Anthropoligists say laughter can only really occur when people are comfortable with one another, when they feel open and free. And the more laughter there is, the more bonding occurs within the group.
- Research has shown that the original purpose of laughter is/was to make and strengthen human connections.
- Laughter reduces levels of stress hormones that suppress the immune system and lowers blood pressure.
- When we’re laughing we increase the amount/level of natural killer cells that destroy tumors and viruses and produce disease-destroying antibodies.
- Laughing 100 times is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike. (Where “ha-ha” equals laughing twice).
- Laughter also gives your diaphragm, abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles a workout – which is why you sometimes feel “weak with laughter” – you’ve been working out!