Laughing more will make you healthier, happier—and sexier!
“You just do comedy because it’s easy.”
This judgement has been applied to my work more than once. And it’s true; convincing a casino rep who requested a half-naked hooping sexpot—to instead hire a woman in a space helmet, dancing to “The Final Countdown”—is simple. I’ve never admitted this before, but I actually nap while I’m performing.
Despite comedy’s cakewalk qualities, however, the idea that funny material is frivolous actually has nothing to do with its effort or ease. The reputation of comedy as being less meaningful than “serious” art (insert image of dancers all in black, swaying to the sound of a violin) has everything to do with our culture.
We are some serious mofos.
Why so serious?
Take this from someone who teaches people how to hula hoop: Play is a natural function for children. It grows foreign over time, and adults often require maximum coercion to even touch an adult-sized fitness hoop. Over the years, some folks to whom I’ve presented a hoop have recoiled. Hidden behind friends. They are Janet Leigh, and I am Norman Bates, pulling back the shower curtain, with a butcher knife.
When offered a “toy,” a significant number of grown ups literally experience fear. They’re afraid they can’t do it, afraid they’ll look stupid, afraid it isn’t appropriate at their age. This fear may be a result of conditioning we all go through, when we’re encouraged to:
- Grow up.
- Settle down.
- Fit in.
- Stop playing around.
- Suppress natural feelings and desires.
- Obey authority (in the form of teachers, bosses, etc).
- Get a REAL job! (hula hooping to 80s music is not a real job, by the way).
If you became a person in this culture, you can insert your own stories of how, piece by piece, you were advised to stop being your innate, creative, skipping, drawing, dancing, playing four-year-old self—and shift into someone who had to prove, “I’m awake! I made it to school on time! I sat still! I got ready for work! Fun is for kids! Ah! Get your effing toys out of my effing face!”
Because we’re encouraged to become more serious, over time, it’s no wonder adults sometimes have difficulty reconnecting with their own silliness. It’s also not surprising that cultural connoisseurs consider “serious” artwork to be the pinnacle of meaning—and funny artwork to be its emotionally stunted sibling. After all, even babies can laugh. They can do it while they’re still half-human blobs whose other talents include crying, eating and shitting. Unimpressive!
Adults, on the other hand, have the ability to reason, philosophize and contemplate serious things. So laughter is fun – but unnecessary. Right? How could its trigger, comedy, possibly advance life on earth? If laughter were THAT important, babies would be running shit, and we’d all be rolling around in a ball pit somewhere with lipstick and chocolate cake all over our faces.
Instead, we’re accomplishing the serious adult work that makes our lives feel seriously fulfilling. I mean, would YOU rather be ogling a computer screen, with maximum back pain, for the fortieth hour this week — or diving off a speaker, in a glitter wig, while playing a keytar?
So funny I forgot how to laugh
If that question caused you to daydream about rockstar-kicking down your cubicle walls, it wouldn’t be shocking. Somewhere inside each of us, there’s a four-year-old who never quite died, trying to feel fulfilled in a world that doesn’t honor some of our most primary drives: the drive to laugh, to play, to embrace the absurd. Being “silly” is amazing, natural — and healthy. Here are some reasons to reconsider the value of comedy:
1. Laughter really is the best medicine. Much like running, only without the exercise, laughter stimulates the ol’ endorphins. According to researchers at Loma Linda University, it also boosts the immune system, increases antibody production and activates protective cells. A University of Maryland study revealed that having a sense of humor may even help protect you against a heart attack. And the best news? Ten to fifteen minutes of laughter can burn off the calories in a medium square of chocolate. Great! Because who can afford health insurance AND a gym membership?
2. Giggling is champagne for the emotions. In addition to physical benefits, laughter is also an emotional release. It can help temper difficult life events. Therapists have found it useful in helping patients. The Pentagon even recommends it as a way to soften the impact of military life. But to really prove this point, I’m turning back to the heavyweight champions of laughter: babies. They’re not smart enough to understand satire. So why DO they laugh? Perhaps because we are hardwired, from birth, with a release valve for emotional stress. Next time you’re playing peek-a-boo, just know that you may be facilitating your baby’s earliest laughter therapy session.
3. Funny is sexy. That’s Revolva’s official motto. Turns out there’s actually science to back it up. Bonus! (I mean – I totally knew that.) According to a UK study at the University of Stirling humor impacts mate choice and may “serve as an indicator of genetic quality.” Top shelf comedy genes, baby!
A University of New Mexico study explored whether sense of humor boosted sex appeal for both men and women. In the study, 200 men and 200 women were asked to write funny captions for cartoons, which were then judged on a 1 to 7 humor scale. The results? While both genders produced funny captions, there was a higher margin among males. The authors theorize this is because “women evolved to desire baby daddies intelligent enough to make them laugh, and men evolved to desire women who laugh at their jokes because that may mean getting into their pants.” (Or something like that. I might be paraphrasing, and I’m not sure early humans wore pants.)
The point is that acting on or reacting to humor played a key role in sexytimes – for everyone! Also, the study showed that both the men AND the women who produced funny captions were more likely to be getting action than the non-funny people. So, basically, if you’re single, start laughing about it. Science clearly shows you’ll be laughing all the way to the bedroom.
4. Maybe you forgot how to smile and laugh freely. In modern life, we’ve locked laughter up under a lot of social conditioning and stress. Sometimes, it feels good to let it rip. Watching something funny can trigger pent up laughter. (Book me!) But if comedy isn’t your thing, or you really feel stuck on how to recapture a sense of joy, organizations such as “Laughter Yoga” can help you get your laugh groove back.
I have to admit that when I first heard the words “Laughter Yoga,” I thought, “Ew! California spirit fad!” But then I discovered that its founder, Indian doctor Madan Kataria, is actually a genius. In the mid-90s, inspired by research proving the health benefits of laughter (specifically this book by Norman Cousins and the work of Dr. Lee Berk), Kataria began holding laughter clubs in a Mumbai park.
The movement caught on quickly. People would gather, tell jokes and crack up. When a controversy arose over whether some jokes were offensive, Kataria cut the jokes entirely, realizing that the simple act of laughter itself – begets more laughter. To recap: pretend laughter can turn into genuine laughter. People all over the world are now meeting up to laugh their yoga pants off. No jokes or mat required!
5. Those who snort at jokes together, stay together. Laughter is a unifying force. Research has proven that true of romantic relationships and also just of bonding in any social group. This cool study theorizes that laughter actually evolved as a way for humans, who used to (like other primates) bond by grooming one another – to instead bond with larger groups. After all, you can only pick lice off one friend at a time. There’s no limit to how many funny bones you can tickle at once. That’s why modern humans invented microphones!
In short, funny art is not less important than “serious art.” How could it be, when it’s causing laughter – a proven boost to body, mind, spirit, love life, friendship and chocolate consumption? Laughing every day may not be an all-cure. But it does provide a roadmap back to age four, when our spirits were a lot more carefree. And it sure beats wearing all black and swaying back and forth to a violin.
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Revolva googles “Why do babies laugh?” in her spare time, for free. If you like her articles, feel free to donate $1, $5 or $100K to her ability to keep writing her *own,* non-client funded work, using the button below. Or visit the Revolva Rock Store and support an independent artist by buying a pair of space pants!Follow Revolva
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