Thousands of people shuffle through a crowded lobby into a stadium-sized auditorium. Staring closely at their tickets, heads bobbing up and down, they find their row and seat. Excusing themselves as they perform a tiny Irish jig to make it through a small pathway filled with knees, jackets and purses, strangers make room for one another to get to their assigned spot. They can’t even be mad at one another when their toes are stepped on and drinks spilled, because though they have never met, they are there for the same reason.
The lights dim, a comedian appears on stage. The roar of applause fills the room so loudly it seems there is no space left to fill with praise. The comedian stands before a sold-out theater, ready to give the people what they want. Opening with a bit that in roughly ten seconds will bring about one of the most distinguishable sounds in all the world. The punchline hits. Everyone feels it from the inside. It can only be one thing.
The sound of laughter.
We crave laughter. When we laugh (and laugh a lot) we actually experience multiple health benefits. That sensation of “Wow, I just laughed so hard, I’m exhausted!” is real. Your heart, organs, lungs, and muscles just went on a joyride themselves and are stronger for it.
Why do so many people pay money to sit in a crowded room to listen to one person talk? Because they trust something good is coming. They’re confident they will be taken away from their cares and concerns, if only for an hour. This journey of creative wit produces something we all crave. Laughter is worth every penny.
Your Kind of Funny
Sharing a laughter bonds people in a way nothing else can. If two people hear the same thing and laugh—even if they’ve never met—it shows a greater truth. They’ve both absorbed an idea, connected with the meaning of it and share an involuntary response. It’s a form of connection.
But we don’t all find the same things funny (or funny in the same way). Which is why there are an inordinate number of comedians who specialize in your kind of funny.
Jerry Seinfeld, made a career of poking fun at the everyday, “I don't return fruit. Fruit’s a gamble. I know that going in.” Ellen, a self-proclaimed procrastinator, “Procrastinate now, don’t put it off.” Then there’s John Crist, the king of Christian satire, who asks Dr. Gary Chapman to “Please considering adding ‘Sharing GIFs’ as a sixth love language please and thank you.”
When we find a comedian we like it’s because we can appreciate his or her take on life and how they’ve found the humor in it.
Fill Your Mouth With Laughter
As if just feeling good after a hard laugh wasn’t enough, laughter actually heals us from the inside. This Mayo Clinic staff writer cited laughter as having multiple positive health benefits for your body. “Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.” Laughter serves as a temporary cure for stress, can improve your immune system, act as a pain reliever, increase personal satisfaction, and improve your mood. Laughter’s not just about making you happy, it’s about keeping you healthy.
We are living in a time when laughing more could lighten everybody’s mood. Especially as we grow older and our responsibilities grow larger. Work depends on us, we have bills to pay, mouths to feed. Our focus tends to be on everyday upkeep, while personal enjoyment falls lower and lower on our list of priorities. But we can’t afford to go another day without laughter at the top. It’s our own responsibility to try to find the funny in our everyday. Our hearts, minds, stress levels depend on it.
Because we don’t actually have to pay for laughter, we can stop waiting for someone else to bring the punchline. We can find it ourselves. God crafted a world where humor thrives, in part, so we do as well.
Some of us tend to not be easy laughers. We may be humor snobs, or at times life may seem too hard, too serious. You may find it easier to remove gluten, dairy, and carbohydrates from your diet than to make time to laugh. Sure, life can be serious, and at times, incredibly hard, but God promises to “fill your mouth with laughter.” Maybe it’s time to take him up on it.
Cover image by Tim Mossholder