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YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS - Laughter still the best medicine
Bernie Comaskey / 2011-01-11 18:44:26
My favourite people are those who can make me laugh: Whether it is a close friend, family member, someone met in a pub, or an amusing entertainer, I always warm towards those where there is a fair chance of a “bit of a laugh.”
Paradoxically, the most rewarding feedback I get from this column, or the book, is when a reader lets me know that they laughed at something which I wrote. We cannot always be funny, but we all do need our quota of mirth: Because laughter is the best medicine.
Sadly these days, some of what is dished out under the heading of comedy is about as funny as a burst water-pipe. A section of what passes for professional pub comics, mostly in Britain and some English-speaking pubs at holiday destinations, is just undiluted, unfunny foul-mouthed filth. I am far, far from being a prude, and I can tell a smutty joke as good as anyone (I hope!), but some of the stuff being peddled as comedy, where an average of two “f” words per sentence and all standard of decency is ridiculed and insulted; well, to me, that is not comedy and is not funny. There is a difference between a nervous, embarrassed, shocked giggle and a good old-fashioned belly laugh.
I have been listening to comedians like Noel V Ginnity and Brendan Grace for ... well for a while! Both these very funny men can have their audiences in stitches every time, over many years, and have never found it necessary to resort to the type of language they wouldn’t use in front of their own children or grandchildren. If a comedian is good enough he doesn’t need the crutch of obscenity. I watched Grace on television over Christmas and even old jokes with new dressings, sound just as good as the first time. One which I had not heard before and gave me my belly-laugh was included in his “Bottler” sketch – and went something like this: Teacher: “Bottler, what was Saint Patrick?” “A saint, Sir.” “No, no. ‘Bottler’, what was his trade, or profession – what did he work at?” “Don’t know.” “Ok, let’s start again: If you made the wooden seat you are sitting on and the wooden shelves on the wall, what would you be?” “A carpenter, Sir”. “Good boy; and if you owned a forge and shod horses, what would you be?” “A Blacksmith.” “Now we are getting somewhere, ‘Bottler’, … so, if you were following a flock of sheep up the mountain, what would you be?” “I’d be a ram, sir.”!!
The therapeutic benefits of laughter are limitless. Two researchers at Lomi Linda University of California have been studying the effects of laughter on the immune system. Doctors Stanley Tan and Lee Berk claim that their studies have shown that laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, increases muscle flexion and boosts the immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells.. A fit of laughing releases disease-fighting proteins called Gamma-interferon and B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies. Now if that information isn’t deemed worthy of a chuckle, at least, a good belly laugh also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and produces a general sense of well-being.
Laughter is aerobic, providing a workout for the diaphragm, while increasing the body’s ability to use oxygen. There is no more positive emotion than laughing and very often you will observe fits of laughing even in the midst of family bereavements and tragedies. Experts claim that naturally happy and care-free people suffer less pain than those who like to be miserable.
In a study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing, a group of patients were told jokes after surgery and prior to painful medication. Those exposed to humour perceived less pain when compared to patients who did not get the dose of humour. Laughter is internal exercise and can provide good cardiac conditioning – especially for those unable to perform physical exercise. Frequent hearty laughter empties your lungs of more air than it takes in, resulting in a cleansing effect. This is especially beneficial for anyone suffering from emphysema or respiratory problems and more proof that laughing really does improve health and fight disease.
Humans are the only animals who can laugh – although the last time I wrote this in a column I received a contradictory opinion from my good friend, now sadly departed, Pat Burke from Bonningtown. Anyway, some human animals who could laugh –don’t bother to, but the average adult laughs seventeen times a day. Now, what about the unbridled pleasure of laughing until the tears roll down your face? That is the ultimate feel good factor. Yes, laughter is definitely the best medicine. And one more thing about this medicine; it is free and there are no negative side effects!
Laughter is the cheapest luxury that man has. It stirs up the blood, expands the chest, electrifies the nerves, clears away the cobwebs from the brain and gives the whole system a cleansing rehabilitation.