“When humor goes, there goes civilization.” – Erma Bombeck
Life can be a serious business. A little too serious sometimes. Whenever I’m feeling the strain, I usually notice that my energy feels heavier and more sluggish, and my enthusiasm drops. Then I know it’s time to lighten up, be more playful, and most of all, to laugh.
Have you ever laughed so hard your stomach muscles ached, and your eyes streamed? When was the last time you had a deep, spontaneous, belly rupturing chuckle? If you can’t remember it’s probably been too long.
The only thing worse than not being able to laugh is trying to stifle laughter because you may feel it’s inappropriate at that moment to let out an unbridled guffaw; which is virtually impossible to contain!
There have been moments when my children have completely taken the wind out of my sails at a tense moment, with an innocent yet hilarious quip, not even realising how funny they were.
It’s good to be immersed in the joy of life. There’s enough hardship and suffering on this planet to fill the vast, fiery vaults of hell; so anything that lightens the tone and helps us experience the playful side of life has a divine aspect in my humble opinion.
Laughter is the oil that lubricates the engine of life. Without it our various cogs and pistons seize up and our vehicle becomes stationary. Potentially with a puff of smoke emanating from under the hood…
Perhaps our creator gifted us with the capacity for humour as an antidote to the ups and downs of physical existence. A kind of spiritual hack to combat the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that Shakespeare so eloquently penned, or should I say quilled?
“Humour is something that thrives between man’s aspirations and his limitations. There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because, you see, humour is truth.” – Victor Borge
Victor Borge’s musical humour was loved the world over:
Another hilarious, class act in Autumn Leaves:
There’s a well-worn saying: laugh and the whole world laughs with you, but when you cry you cry alone. No doubt we’ve also all felt that magical and infectious atmosphere that pervades a room of people laughing.
An experiment was conducted on the tube in London that highlighted this very phenomena. An actor would suddenly start cracking up and before long most of the carriage are smiling and some are openly laughing.
A smile show’s your heart’s at home. It’s free to give away, and makes someone else feel happier, more loved and appreciated.
Science also concludes that if you physically smile (even though you may not be feeling happy), the act of smiling will make you so. It’s bizarre, but it does work. Sometimes we like to wallow in our misery. The ego is always uptight.
Laughter is a liberator. It liberates us from our egos. When we loosen up and laugh every day it relieves stress, tension, seriousness and worry. It puts you in a different energetic space, so that you’re more likely to better deal with whatever was causing you to have a sense of humour failure in the first place.
I had a situation recently that was getting on top of me, but after I laughed at it, almost disbelieving, I was able to step out of my anger and frustration better. I became unstuck from my emotions. Humour is a wonderful way of letting go of negative attachments and emotions.
When we shift our perception and context, absurdity reveals itself. A sense of humour helps us contextualise life. It helps us to become more compassionate. Humour is innate in a loving being. Humour highlights the paradoxes of life, which tend to be comical.
“Gautam Buddha said as his last statement: ‘Be a light unto yourself’. The day I leave the body please remind me, so that I can make my last statement: ‘Be a joke unto yourself’. That is far more joyful than being a light unto yourself. What are you going to do with a light? Light your cigars, or burn people’s houses? But being a joke unto yourself, you will be a bliss for everyone.” ~ OSHO
Anthony McCarten on Laughter:
Sometimes I watch my favourite comedians to lift me out of a funk, it helps to know that other people have stuff to deal with too, and they can make us see the funny side…
I always find I learn better in lessons, lectures or talks when humour is involved. I try to make fun of myself when I’m doing speeches and get the audience to laugh. If only to make me feel less nervous!
If you can see your own flaws and faults and be able to laugh at yourself, no-one can then hold anything against you that you haven’t already accepted and owned. If we hold up a mirror of the human condition, (which we do when we laugh at ourselves), we can more readily forgive ourselves and others, for we are all prisoners of the ambiguity of the human condition.
“Humour is characteristic of liberation and genuine spiritual teaching.” ~ Dr. David R Hawkins
Humour shows us what it means to be human. Many comedians are spiritually evolved and highly acute. They reveal the oddities of mankind. To bring forth your own capacity for humour is healing.
Quite a few years ago, (more than I care to remember), I worked for Qantas Airways, and have recently flown to Turin and back, so found this sketch by the brilliant late Dave Allen most amusing:
When I watch Maxim Vengerov give masterclasses to violin students, I notice he employs a wonderful dose of humour in with his expertise. He makes music fun!
James Altucher on comedy:
Comedians are the modern philosophers. It’s the hardest skill on the planet. Yes, it’s harder than heart surgery. It’s more difficult than making a rocket ship to fly to Mars (which is a stupid thing anyway).
Comedians see the world differently. They look for the things that are weird, or make them angry, or make them annoyed, or the things nobody else sees.
This is also what entrepreneurs do. But comedians do it all day long and entrepreneurs do it once or twice.
Then comedians have to figure out how to change that angry-looking thing they saw into words that will make other people laugh.
Do you know how hard that is?
The average child laughs 300 times a day. But the average adult laughs just…five times a day.
A comedian doing a five minute set makes the average adult laugh 20 times in just those five minutes.
That’s so hard it’s almost impossible.
Skills comedians have to master according to JA:
- overwhelming confidence on stage (“the party is where I AM AT. You’re just invited.”)
- You won’t laugh at a comedian you don’t like. And you have to get total strangers to like you in the first ten seconds.
- Control of the crowd. If the audience takes control, the comedian is doomed.
- Crowd work. Talking to individual members of the crowd and making their boring commentary filled with fun and laughter.
- Comedians have their set of jokes. But as Mike Tyson says, “Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face.” Comedians often have to make up stuff on the fly within micro-seconds (if there is silence or heckling, etc.) or they lose the crowd.
- It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Watch a Dave Chappelle video. If he just said his jokes, maybe 1/10 of the people would laugh. It’s HOW he says it.
- Half the humor is in how the comedian performs it. Different than timing.
- Reading people. You have about one second to look at the audience and size up every single individual sitting in the club. This helps in negotiating, sales, relationships, everything.
- The UNEXPECTED. People laugh when they expect you to say one thing and you say something totally different, and totally truthful, that they didn’t expect.
- The “Unexpected” are the seeds you must plant in the brain and water every day.
Peter Sellars was a comic genius as the incompetent, bungling Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films:
Watching Rowan Atkinson as Prince Blackadder, or the gormless idiot Mr Bean, and some of his other sketches always lifts my spirits!
I laughed until my sides split when he met the Queen…
Our car developed what seems to be a fatal engine fault at the start of the week, and as I type it’s still being dismantled to ascertain the cost of repair – yikes!
You’ll hear me laughing hysterically all the way to the bank…
As the Pink Panther is on my banner I’m just going to have to leave you with Inspector Clouseau and Dreyfus laughing…
“It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously.” – Oscar Wilde