Let’s get one thing out of the way at the start of this blog… Laughing is awesome! Whether it is a massive uncontrollable belly laugh, a surreptitious bought of inappropriate giggles or just a sly smirk at a smutty double entendre, everyone enjoys a laugh (even goths and Radiohead* fans!).
Science (and more importantly the movie Patch Adams**) tells us that laughing is also good for our health. It improves our mental well being, it improves our relationships with other people, and it makes us feel good about ourselves and the world around us. So why do we do so little of it!?
By now I am sure you have all seen the bizarre viral video smash hit featuring an American woman wearing a chewbacca mask, and essentially just bursting into uncontrollable laughter. (See link at foot of this post)This video has been shared hundreds of thousands of times and received millions of views around the world, and I think shows just how much of an appetite we have for the most pure form of natural laughter. There is nothing sophisticated in this video, just a slightly odd but very happy person laughing. There is no satire, no word play, no innuendo… Just a person uncontrollably losing it in the silliest possible way… And as a piece of comic video it works amazingly. It is almost impossible not to join in when she breaks down. Seeing someone else laugh is fun. It is infectious.
Over the last month my baby son has started laughing in a very similar way. At just under 4 months old he is not interested in complex joke structures or cutting satirical commentary (no matter how much I try to get him to appreciate the work of Stewart Lee*** and John Oliver!). His favorite thing is quite simply to laugh at is other people laughing. His laughter is simple, joyful, untarnished joy… A pure physical expression of his innate happiness at the fact that everyone around him is also happy.
I have been struck by the fact that in the modern world, in particular my world of parenting, tiredness, working, rushing around and constant fear and worry, we have kind of lost sight of this sort of silly and joyful laughter. Every morning on my commute I look around and see a sea of miserable, grey faces, staring at the latest celebrity non-news and Trumpian hatred peddled in the news, and there is not a giggle or smile amongst them. This can’t be good for the mental well being of world, and there is no wonder we are all so scared of everything when we view everything through a filter of negativity and fear****. So today I am making a pledge. Just like my son, I am going to try to laugh at something every day. I am not talking about a giggle or sneering snigger, but a proper watery-eyes-snot-in-nose-shaking-hands laugh. I think this will not only make me feel better, but hopefully will infect some of those around me and help make the tiny bit of the world that I occupy a slightly happier and less negative place.
Will you join me?
Here is a link to the Chewbacca Mask video (if you haven’t seen it):
* Believe it or not, even Thom Yorke has been known to laugh in the past
** With all due respect to the late Robin Williams, Patch Adams has to go down as one of the worst films ever made. Here is the trailer
*** For some reason my baby son didn’t appreciate this fantastic routine from Stewart Lee