I actually looked up the medical benefits and it made pretty interesting reading. According to a health guide site, a good hearty laugh can relieve stress and tension thus relaxing the whole body for up to 45 minutes; it can boost the immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing infection fighting anti-bodies; it triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel good chemicals; it protects your heart by improving the functions of blood vessels and increasing the blood flow.
After a quarter of a century together, it’s good to know then that I am good for my husband’s health as I can still make him laugh. Most of the time though it’s unintentional and just an off the cuff remark. For example, having a glut of leeks and potatoes, I decided to try my hand at making soup. Not one to weigh anything, I just prepared the veg (cooking the potatoes first) and chucked it all in a big pan with water and seasoning, stirring over a low heat for about an hour. The aroma was quite tantallising and the taste wasn’t bad either. Hubbie comes out with ‘What are we going to do with all this left over soup love?’ to which I replied ‘Use bigger bowls.’
Maybe you can see where I’m going with this. To be honest, I’m not really sure as I’m writing from the hip and we shall just have to see where we end up (let’s hope not shot in the foot so-to-speak).
As a kid, I was brought up with Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Cooper and Dad’s Army. The breakfast sketch to The Stripper always makes me laugh, but I didn’t really appreciate Tommy Cooper until later laugh (I mean life) and Dad’s Army is such a gentle, if predictable humour, yet still manages to raise a smile when I watch it now. I vaguely remember Mr Ed, I Love Lucy, The Beverley Hillbillies, and of course Happy Days from across the pond, but here in the UK, sitcoms like The Good Life, Open All Hours, Only Fools and Horses, and Last of The Summer Wine were very popular. In the 80s and 90s, I couldn’t get into The Young Ones or Bottom, so maybe I just didn’t have the correct sense of humour in those days. People laughed at me then because I didn’t, laugh that is.
So what is it that makes us laugh? We’re all probably guilty of that embarrassing giggle or guffaw that escapes our lips without warning at some inopportune moment. I’ll laugh at the bloke getting hit in the nether regions as he doubles up in pain knowing full well it must hurt, yet being female, it’s funny (sorry guys, no disrespect). I will also laugh at the showoff falling off his (or her) bike as they attempt high speed wheelies, regardless of the fact that they may have broken something (and not just their headlamps). In the supermarket, I found it hysterical to watch a cocky young girl of about 9 playing with her mobile phone as, head bent looking at the screen, she walked into a large display of canned goods, demolishing the lot and screaming the place down (I felt sorry for her poor Mum).
On the other hand, we hear of people crying with laughter. This has happened to me often, once at a Ladies Night in the mid 80s. One of the ‘turns’ was a singer/stand up comedian who was so good, I had to leave the room for the loo. Of course he pounced on me (not literally!) when I stood up saying he didn’t think his jokes were that bad, to which I replied ‘That’s just it, you’re so funny, if I don’t go to the ladies, there’s going to be an almighty puddle on the floor!’ The audience thought it was all part of the act, and I wish I’d had the cheek to ask for a cut of his fee.
On another occasion, I slipped in the street and landed in a heap at the bus stop. Two very gallant young lads came across to help me up, but I couldn’t do anything for laughing which made their task impossible. I wasn’t hurt, apart from my dignity and a bruised wrist, but the doughnuts had gone for a burton and got squished under the bus, which made me laugh all the harder. The guys were brilliant, and with the help of a third, managed to get me on my feet and merrily on my way (doughnutless I might add), tissue in hand, mopping at my eyes. I’m smiling now at the memory.
When my chair collapsed under me in the office, my chin missed the edge of the desk by a fraction of an inch, so I kept all my teeth and consciousness. What followed was like something out of a classic comedy routine, with one person rushing off to get another chair, someone else a hot water bottle, a third a cushion, a fourth a glass of water and a fifth the Accident Book in case I was really hurt and would sue the company for providing shoddy furniture. Again, I could do nothing for tears of laughter, and with so many other people trying to pick me up off the floor, I had to flap them all away and stood on my own two feet, however inelegantly, by grabbing the desk and heaving myself up. I ended up getting a new, and bigger, chair.
As you can see, I can, do, and will, laugh at myself. A lot of that is to cover embarrassment, but as I have always been a bit on the large side, getting the laughs in first reduced the chance of someone else coming out with tactless yet hurtful remarks that may reduce me to tears for another reason.
When it comes to films, I still haven’t laughed at Four Weddings and a Funeral. There really must be something wrong with me as I just didn’t find it amusing on any of the 3 occasions I watched it. Yet the after-credits farting contest in A Knight’s Tale and the fart in the lift in Revenge of The Pink Panther (or any Peter Sellars outtake for that matter) both make me laugh out loud. Breaking wind is a perfectly natural function, yet we find it funny, and when there are at least three of you and you are the culprit, you can get away with glancing at the others in denial. Does this mean I only appreciate ‘toilet humour’. Not so. There is a scene in Six Days and Seven Nights where Harrison Ford goes into the bushes for a ‘swearing session’ after discovering he and Anne Heche are not on the island he originally thought. This never fails to bring tears to my eyes either.
In contrast, I disliked the Itchy and Scratchy sketches in The Simpsons, yet loved Tom and Jerry, both cartoons and both where pain of some description was inflicted on the cat.
We are all different, and obviously so are our tastes in humour. It’s just that sometimes, our timing might be a little ‘off’.
Finally, there’s the saying ‘Die laughing’.
All I can say to that is so long as there’s no pain involved, what a wonderful way to go.