Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough. ~ William Saroyan (American Writer known for his stories celebrating the joy of living in spite of poverty. 1908-1981)
A time-honored saying suggests that laughter is the very best medicine. It can sweep away the cobwebs that are building in your heart and perhaps remind you, according to Sonny in the movie The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel, “Everything will be all right in the end and if it’s not all right, then it’s not yet the end.”
Laughing at funny people and life situations can lift your spirit and improve your health (only sex and exercise can do as much).
What we find funny changes with the times, once it was the classic humor of Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and The Three Stooges.
Then we switched to the much funnier (just my view) slapstick of Jerry Lewis, Lucille Ball, Red Foxx and Bill Cosby to the outrageous humor of Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Benny Hill, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Ben Stiller, Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Carrey. Today it’s Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey and Ellen DeGeneres. This isn’t an acceptance speech at the Oscars so it’s ok if I left out your favorite.
Oftentimes it’s not the comedians that make us laugh as much as real life. Attending my cherished sister’s memorial recently the pastor’s cell phone went off when he was talking and he seemed bewildered by where the sound was coming from and later reading from her bible he accidently ripped the page out…we were appalled, but telling it now makes me laugh, especially knowing my sister would laugh too. This is life: first we respond with tears; then ultimately we find humor in unintentional conduct.
Musician Cat Stevens holds a truth about my own laughter and tears: I always knew looking back my tears would bring me laughter, but I never knew looking back on my laughter would make me cry.
Some of our most famous comedians are just pure eccentric, like Woody Allen, but we treasure despite their weirdness: To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness.
Reminding me of what Jim Butcher of Changes says (laugh whenever you can; keeps you from killing yourself when things are bad, that and vodka.), I asked several people over the last few days to name their favorite funny movie. I thought they might concur with my favorites: The Big Lebowski (Doesn’t anyone care about the rules anymore!), A Fish Called Wanda, Harold and Maude and Throw Mama from the Train.
But I learned a great lesson, just because you think it’s the funniest ever doesn’t mean others do.
Some people offered anything by Mel Brooks including The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. Or anything by Monty Python or the Bridget Jones series.
Other favorites ran the gamut from Airplane, Caddy Shack, The Jerk, Hangover (really), What About Bob, Animal House, Stir Crazy, Up in Smoke, Arthur, Cat Ballou, Tootsie, Meet the Fockers, Mrs. Doubtfire, Blades of Glory, Pink Panther, Strictly Ballroom, It’s Complicated, When Harry Met Sally (only because of the fake orgasm scene) and The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!
If you’ve forgotten about most of these movies, perhaps it’s time for a good laugh…it’s a whole lot easier to survive difficult times if you can laugh out loud. It’s contagious!
And remember one thing about laughter: you can’t control it, it’s a spontaneous response and shared can change everything.
by PAMELA HULSE ANDREWS Cascade A&E Publisher