Laughing ’till it hurts

polar-bear-large I love a good laugh. I love laughing at myself and at others. I love throwing my head back and laughing until I cry. One of my favorite Jay Leno shticks that totally does it for me is Monday night’s Headlines – okay, that and Dumb Criminals and Jaywalking. Viewers send Leno ads and newspaper headlines/copy with howlingly funny typos that send me straight to tears. Jaywalking is like hearing dumb-blonde jokes (I know, not PC) except the people being questioned aren’t blondes and the subject matter is, sad to say, education factoids that cause me to laugh and then say “geesh, another poor product of public schooling!” I don’t get to see these segments much because I have to get up early the next morning for school but I do try to catch them during the summer. I don’t have TIVO or Comcast’s HD receiver that allows “taping” of television programming for later watching. I haven’t taped anything for a long while, years ago really, since I gave up all of my VHS machines. If I could make a tape I’d fill it with nothing but funny stories, shticks, and comic routines. I like dry humor, physical humor, “obvious” humor, Reader’s Digest jokes, embarrassing moments (mine and everyone else’s), family gaffs, Buster Keaton, and Michael J. Fox. Heck, I will laugh at anything.
I happen to think that the plainest, ugliest, boldest truth is told in stand-up and that God is a stand-up comedian. We hear our worse truths exposed, our poorest actions revealed, our dimmest beliefs expounded, and laugh cleansing laughs. You might ask, if through our laughing absolution, do we understand the truth or do we toss it off, and go on with our lives? I would say that most people say these words as they laugh: this is so true, and honestly know it to be true in their lives. Do we further reflect on these truths and change our behavior? I bet that a low percentage of us do, but for others it’s sort of like tripping on a banana peel and picking yourself up, looking around sheepishly, and when discovering that your trip went unnoticed, going about your business. These people will be reincarnated as poorly prepared clowns that beg for people to laugh at their pratfalls so as to rehabilitate them.
What brought all this on? I was leafing through May’s NEAToday magazine when I got to the departments contents page and I read the quote “The stool collapsed, and I fell to the floor ….I heard a whisper: ‘I think she’s dead.’ I was directed to the In Your Words section, and sure enough, there were great laughs to be had! The cracking open a can of Bud Light to a teacher’s ‘Rough day?’ comment especially cracked me up. My worst fear is forgetting to hit the knob to lock the teacher’s restroom door and get caught on the pot – I’ve even had a nightmare about this. So I am prepared to laugh at others misfortunes ‘cause I know it will happen to me.
Saturdays would find my great uncles and aunts and grandfather would sitting on their metal and wood Adirondack chairs set in a semi-circle telling jokes, embellishments, and tall-tales about each other, deep into the hot summer evenings. Porch and house lights cast long shadows and mosquitoes harvested our blood but we kids would sit at our elder’s feet lapping up their stories, trying hard to remember their words and gestures. These same stories would be told at funerals except, of course, they’d be one less laughing, one less to make corrections to the tales being told incorrectly or maliciously defaming their memory. This went on for the greater part of my childhood and caused me to be the prankster that I sometimes am today.
I believe that laughs should be bottled and shared ‘round campfires, hospital wards, pain centers, and self-help groups. I believe that laughter IS the best medicine. People’s noses wouldn’t get so bent out of shape if we could just laugh at ourselves more often; lighten up and not take ourselves so gosh darn seriously. We are a funny lot, we all do some fantastically crazy shticks of our own and you can bet that someone has seen us falling on our butts more than once in our lives. I wish that someone would be me because I’d laugh my head off!

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