WHAT EVIDENCE IS THERE AVAILABLE TO SHOW IT WORKS?
Dr Lee Berk of Loma University Medical Centre, California, has been conducting laughter therapy research since the late 1970s. In 1989, Berk studied the effects of laughter in 10 healthy males. Five experimental subjects watched an hour-long comedy while five control subjects didn’t. Blood samples taken from the 10 subjects revealed that cortisol (the hormone our body releases when under stress) in the experimental subjects had decreased more rapidly in comparison to the control group.
Berk’s research has also shown that the level of natural killer cells (a type of immune cell that attacks virus and tumour cells) is increased through laughter. These same cells are suppressed if the body suffers consistent long-term stress.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have also calculated that just 20 seconds of laughter could be as good for the lungs as three minutes spent on a rowing machine.
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Some Initial Thoughts
How to use LaughterDrive
There are organisations who can help you in this area – follow some of the links in ‘More Info’ below. Laughter is a great way of making yourself feel better, and it’s free! Feel free to have a look at some jokes voted the funniest at the Edinburgh Fringe by clicking on the year below – it expands to give you the best jokes.
Who can do it?
Laughter therapy is suitable for everyone although most therapists work with Elderly groups, young people in care and mental health patients are all thought to benefit especially from laughter therapy. If you’re undecided, remember this: children laugh about 400 times a day whereas adults manage a miserable 15.
What results can I expect?
A laughter therapy session may leave you feeling elated and exhausted in equal measure. Muscle tone and cardiovascular functions may be improved, and oxygen levels in the blood may be boosted.in the healthcare profession or in the workplace, where laughter is used as a means of relieving stress.
In the long term, laughter therapy teaches us that we don’t just have to laugh when we are happy. Laughing in the face of anger, stress or anxiety – even if it’s forced laughter – can actually lift your mood. And it’s infectious, so you can expect to see those around you benefiting from a good giggle too. Speaking of which…
If you can’t get out
There are lots of ways of keeping in touch with friends and having a laugh, whether it’s playing games online or doing a quiz.
Facts About Laughter
can be burned by just 10-15 minutes of laughing (Vanderbilt University study)
is how often on average an adult laughs (Martin RA, Kuiper NA. International Journal Of Humor Research 1999)
is how much more likely we are to laugh when we’re in a group (Dr Robert Previne)
is the longest stand up comedy show ever, by David Scott aka ‘The Midnight Swinger’
How does laughter work?
Brainstuff explain what happens in our minds when we laugh. This video in under 4 minutes tells us about how the brain works when we laugh.
The Edinburgh Fringe hosts some of the best new comedy
Below are some of the jokes voted as the best in their year. Click on the year to show that year’s jokes.
Even though the joke spotters weren’t there this year, the competition was kept alive by Will Mars, using a bloke called Dave he found on the Royal Mile.
1. “I thought the word ‘Caesarean’ began with the letter ‘S’ but when I looked in the dictionary, it was in the ‘C’ section.” – Masai Graham
2. “My therapist told me, ‘A problem shared, is a hundred quid’.” – Ivor Dembina
3. “Me and my ex were into role play. I’d pretend to be James Bond and she’s pretend she still loved me.” – Tom Mayhew
4. “The roman emperor’s wife hates playing hide and seek because wherever she goes Julius Caesar.” – Adele Cliff
5. “Marvin Gaye used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. He’d herd it through the grapevine.” – Leo Kearse
6. “Getting a caesarian is dangerous in Russia. If they open you up and find a little girl, they open her up to see if there’s another.” – Ben Clover
7. “My grandparents were married for forty years, but everything took longer back then.” – Will Mars
8. “I think Chewbacca is French because he understands English but refuses to speak it.” – Sameer Katz
9. “I don’t know what you call a small spillage from a pen but I have an inkling.” – Richard Pulsford
10. “People say zoos are inhumane. But that’s because they’re for animals.” – Sameer Katz
Owing to the Covid pandemic, there was no Edinburgh festival, so no fringe. Here’s a list of some of the jokes the comedians WOULD have told at the festival, courtesy of The Guide.
“How many fringe performers does it take to change a lightbulb? 5,000. One to change it and 4,999 to tell them their lightbulb-changing act has been woefully overlooked by the industry and got a standing ovation when there were no critics in.”
“I’m so sad that the Edinburgh fringe isn’t happening this year. For those unfamiliar, it’s the biggest arts festival in the world. It’s also the most diverse arts festival in the world – it’s got people from literally all over north London.”
Steven K Amos
“Just because you do a bad job once, it does not make you a bad person. My uncle recently beheaded a woman – not a bad person, bad magician.”
“I’m amazed Dominic Cummings kept his job – in most Tory governments you get fired immediately if they find out you went to Durham.”
“All of my desires in 2020 sound like the desires of someone from 1920. The other day I genuinely thought: ‘I wonder when I will next be in a motor car.’”
“I live with my boyfriend and my brother, both of whom I love very much but in very different ways. The only thing they have in common is they’ve both shared a bath with me at some point in their lives. One was a very erotic experience and the other, he did a poo whilst we were still sat in. It ruined Valentine’s Day.”
“I live in a sort of creative community up a hill in Bristol. It’s not a ‘gated community’, but it is quite a steep hill.”
“I transition my summer dresses into winter by simply being depressed in them.”
“I’m gay and I really love it, but I don’t like it when people refer to us as ‘the gays’ like it’s a nationality. As if we’re all from the same country. I can’t really imagine what that country would be like, other than heavily dependent on immigration.”
“I think the next Jurassic World film should be called A Reptile Dysfunction.”
“The biggest downside to very young children is that they are quite boring. Like, they want to show you they love you by talking to you all the time but everything they know you already know. Literally zero value added in any of those conversations.”
“I grew up watching musicals. Miss Saigon, Oliver, Les Mis. Because there’s nothing upper class people like more than going to the theatre and watching other upper class people, dressed as working class people, singing about how hard it is not being upper class people.”
“The British people don’t circumcise because it’s cold.”
“The most effective way to make a straight man uncomfortable: when one knocks on your bathroom door, say: ‘Come in.’”
“I’m vegan, but I’m not here to tell you that I’m living my life better than you. I’m merely here to imply it.”
“I bought a porn magazine called Barely Legal Russia but when I opened it, there was just pictures of men holding hands.”
Flo & Joan
“You’re not a real fan of the news if you haven’t been watching it from the beginning.”
“The main cause of climate change in the UK at the moment is Prince Andrew burning all his clothes and documents.”
Jonny & the Baptists
“If I were God I’d spend all my time appearing at Richard Dawkins. He’d never tell anyone, but it would really piss him off.”
“I came out just before lockdown. Suddenly I was free to be who I really was … but only as long as I stayed in my room.”
1. “I keep randomly shouting out ‘Broccoli’ and ‘Cauliflower’ – I think I might have florets” – Olaf Falafel
2. “Someone stole my antidepressants. Whoever they are, I hope they’re happy” – Richard Stott
3. “What’s driving Brexit? From here it looks like it’s probably the Duke of Edinburgh” – Milton Jones
4. “A cowboy asked me if I could help him round up 18 cows. I said, ‘Yes, of course. – That’s 20 cows'” – Jake Lambert
5. “A thesaurus is great. There’s no other word for it” – Ross Smith
6. “Sleep is my favourite thing in the world. It’s the reason I get up in the morning” – Ross Smith
7. “I accidentally booked myself onto an escapology course; I’m really struggling to get out of it” – Adele Cliff
8. “After learning six hours of basic semaphore, I was flagging – Richard Pulsford
9. “To be or not to be a horse rider, that is Equestrian” – Mark Simmons
10. “I’ve got an Eton-themed advent calendar, where all the doors are opened for me by my dad’s contacts” – Ivo Graham
1, Working at the JobCentre has to be a tense job – knowing that if you get fired, you still have to come in the next day. – Adam Rowe:
2, I had a job drilling holes for water – it was well boring – Leo Kearse.
3, I took out a loan to pay for an exorcism. If I don’t pay it back, I’m going to get repossessed.- Olaf Falafel:
4, In my last relationship, I hated being treated like a piece of meat. She was a vegan and refused to touch me – Daniel Audritt:
5, What do colourblind people do when they are told to eat their greens? – Flo and Joan:
6, : I’ve got a new job collecting all the jumpers left in the park at the weekends, but it’s not easy. They keep moving the goalposts. – Darren Walsh
7, Trump said he’d build a wall but he hasn’t even picked up a brick. He’s just another middle-aged man failing on a DIY project. – Justin Moorhouse:
8= “I lost a friend after we had an argument about the Tardis. I thought it was a little thing, but it seemed much bigger once we got into it” – Adele Cliff:
8= : “Why are they calling it Brexit and not The Great British Break Off?” – Alex Edelman
10. “I think love is like central heating. You turn it on before guests arrive and pretend it’s like this all the time” – Laura Lexx
1. “I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change” – Ken Cheng
2. “Trump’s nothing like Hitler. There’s no way he could write a book” – Frankie Boyle
3. “I’ve given up asking rhetorical questions. What’s the point?” – Alexei Sayle
4. “I’m looking for the girl next door type. I’m just gonna keep moving house till I find her” – Lew Fitz
5. “I like to imagine the guy who invented the umbrella was going to call it the ‘brella’. But he hesitated” – Andy Field
6. “Combine Harvesters. And you’ll have a really big restaurant” – Mark Simmons
7. “I’m rubbish with names. It’s not my fault, it’s a condition. There’s a name for it…” – Jimeoin
8. “I have two boys, 5 and 6. We’re no good at naming things in our house” – Ed Byrne
9. “I wasn’t particularly close to my dad before he died… which was lucky, because he trod on a land mine” – Olaf Falafel
10. “Whenever someone says, ‘I don’t believe in coincidences.’ I say, ‘Oh my God, me neither!”‘ – Alasdair Beckett-King
11. “A friend tricked me into going to Wimbledon by telling me it was a men’s singles event” – Angela Barnes
12. “As a vegan, I think people who sell meat are disgusting; but apparently people who sell fruit and veg are grocer” – Adele Cliff
13. “For me dying is a lot like going camping. I don’t want to do it” – Phil Wang
14. “I wonder how many chameleons snuck onto the Ark” – Adam Hess
15. “I went to a Pretenders gig. It was a tribute act” – Tim Vine
“My dad has suggested that I register for a donor card. He’s a man after my own heart” – Masai Graham
“Why is it old people say “there’s no place like home”, yet when you put them in one…” – Stuart Mitchell
“I’ve been happily married for four years – out of a total of 10” – Mark Watson
“Apparently 1 in 3 Britons are conceived in an IKEA bed which is mad because those places are really well lit” – Mark Smith
“I went to a pub quiz in Liverpool, had a few drinks so wasn’t much use. Just for a laugh I wrote The Beatles or Steven Gerrard for every answer… came second” – Will Duggan
“Brexit is a terrible name, sounds like cereal you eat when you are constipated” – Tiff Stevenson
“I often confuse Americans and Canadians. By using long words” – Gary Delaney
“Why is Henry’s wife covered in tooth marks? Because he’s Tudor” – Adele Cliff
“Don’t you hate it when people assume you’re rich because you sound posh and went to private school and have loads of money?” – Annie McGrath
“Is it possible to mistake schizophrenia for telepathy, I hear you ask” – Jordan Brookes
“Hillary Clinton has shown that any woman can be President, as long as your husband did it first” – Michelle Wolf
“I spotted a Marmite van on the motorway. It was heading yeastbound” – Roger Swift
“Back in the day, Instagram just meant a really efficient drug dealer” – Arthur Smith
“I’ll tell you what’s unnatural in the eyes of God. Contact lenses” – Zoe Lyons
“Elton John hates ordering Chinese food. Soya seems to be the hardest word” – Phil Nicol
The top 10 funniest jokes of the Fringe
“I just deleted all the German names off my phone. It’s Hans free” – Darren Walsh
“Kim Kardashian is saddled with a huge arse … but enough about Kanye West” – Stewart Francis
“Surely every car is a people carrier?” – Adam Hess
“What’s the difference between a ‘hippo’ and a ‘Zippo’? One is really heavy, the other is a little lighter” – Masai Graham
“If I could take just one thing to a desert island I probably wouldn’t go” – Dave Green
“Jesus fed 5,000 people with two fishes and a loaf of bread. That’s not a miracle. That’s tapas” – Mark Nelson
“Red sky at night. Shepherd’s delight. Blue sky at night. Day” – Tom Parry
“The first time I met my wife, I knew she was a keeper. She was wearing massive gloves” – Alun Cochrane
“Clowns divorce. Custardy battle” – Simon Munnery
“They’re always telling me to live my dreams. But I don’t want to be naked in an exam I haven’t revised for…” – Grace The Child
The funniest joke was chosen from a shortlist compiled by a panel of judges, who saw an average of 60 shows each at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
The shortlisted gags were then put to 2,000 people, with no reference to the comedians who told them, who then voted for the jokes they found the funniest.
The judges also released a list of jokes which just missed out on the shortlist.
“I never lie on my CV…because it creases it.” – Jenny Collier
“If you don’t know what introspection is you need to take a long, hard look at yourself” – Ian Smith
“I usually meet my girlfriend at 12:59 because I like that one-to-one time” – Tom Ward
“Whenever I get to Edinburgh, I’m reminded of the definition of a gentleman. It’s someone who knows how to play the bagpipes, but doesn’t” – Gyles Brandreth
“Let me tell you a little about myself. It’s a reflexive pronoun that means ‘me'” – Ally Houston
“Earlier this year I saw “The Theory of Everything” – loved it. Should’ve been called “Look Who’s Hawking”, that’s my only criticism” – James Acaster
Some of the finalists for funniest joke of the Fringe Festival 2014
“I’ve decided to sell my Hoover… well, it was just collecting dust” – Tim Vine.
“I’ve written a joke about a fat badger, but I couldn’t fit it into my set” – Masai Graham.
“Always leave them wanting more, my uncle used to say to me. Which is why he lost his job in disaster relief” – Mark Watson.
“I was given some Sudoku toilet paper. It didn’t work. You could only fill it in with number ones and number twos” – Bec Hill.
“I wanted to do a show about feminism. But my husband wouldn’t let me” – Ria Lina.
“Money can’t buy you happiness? Well, check this out, I bought myself a Happy Meal” – Paul F Taylor.
“Scotland had oil, but it’s running out thanks to all that deep frying” – Scott Capurro.
“I’ve been married for 10 years, I haven’t made a decision for seven” – Jason Cook.
“This show is about perception and perspective. But it depends how you look at it” – Felicity Ward.
The top 10 were:
Rob Auton – “I heard a rumour that Cadbury is bringing out an oriental chocolate bar. Could be a Chinese Wispa.”
Alex Horne – “I used to work in a shoe-recycling shop. It was sole-destroying.”
Alfie Moore – “I’m in a same-sex marriage… the sex is always the same.”
Tim Vine – “My friend told me he was going to a fancy dress party as an Italian island. I said to him ‘Don’t be Sicily’.”
Gary Delaney – “I can give you the cause of anaphylactic shock in a nutshell.”
Phil Wang – “The Pope is a lot like Doctor Who. He never dies, just keeps being replaced by white men.”
Marcus Brigstocke – “You know you are fat when you hug a child and it gets lost.”
Liam Williams – “The universe implodes. No matter.”
Bobby Mair – “I was adopted at birth and have never met my mum. That makes it very difficult to enjoy any lapdance.”
Chris Coltrane – “The good thing about lending someone your time machine is that you basically get it back immediately.”
The top jokes were:
1.Stewart Francis – “You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh and Becks.”
2.Tim Vine – “Last night me and my girlfriend watched three DVDs back to back. Luckily I was the one facing the telly. “
3.Will Marsh – “I was raised as an only child, which really annoyed my sister.”
4.Rob Beckett – “You know you’re working class when your TV is bigger than your book case.”
5.Chris Turner – “I’m good friends with 25 letters of the alphabet… I don’t know Y.”
6.Tim Vine – “I took part in the sun tanning Olympics – I just got Bronze.”
7.George Ryegold – “Pornography is often frowned upon, but that’s only because I’m concentrating.”
8.Stewart Francis – “I saw a documentary on how ships are kept together. Riveting!”
9.Lou Sanders – “I waited an hour for my starter so I complained: ‘It’s not rocket salad.”
10.Nish Kumar – “My mum’s so pessimistic, that if there was an Olympics for pessimism… she wouldn’t fancy her chances.”
1) Nick Helm: “I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.”
2) Tim Vine: “Crime in multi-storey car parks. That is wrong on so many different levels.”
3) Hannibal Buress: “People say ‘I’m taking it one day at a time’. You know what? So is everybody. That’s how time works.”
4) Tim Key: “Drive-Thru McDonalds was more expensive than I thought… once you’ve hired the car…”
5) Matt Kirshen: “I was playing chess with my friend and he said, ‘Let’s make this interesting’. So we stopped playing chess.”
6) Sarah Millican: “My mother told me, you don’t have to put anything in your mouth you don’t want to. Then she made me eat broccoli, which felt like double standards.”
7) Alan Sharp: “I was in a band which we called The Prevention, because we hoped people would say we were better than The Cure.”
8) Mark Watson: “Someone asked me recently – what would I rather give up, food or sex. Neither! I’m not falling for that one again, wife.”
9) Andrew Lawrence: “I admire these phone hackers. I think they have a lot of patience. I can’t even be bothered to check my OWN voicemails.”
10) DeAnne Smith: “My friend died doing what he loved … Heroin.”
The therapeutic effects of laughter have been clinically studied since the 70s, but Dr Madan Kataria – who developed laughter yoga in Mumbai – is credited with bringing laughter therapy into the mainstream. Kataria set up the first laughter club in 1995. There are now more than 5,000 laughter clubs worldwide.
Laughter Yoga explained
Laughter Yoga is a new form of exercise akin to internal jogging that promotes the use of laughter as a form of physical exercise. It was created in India in the mid-1990s. Laughter Yoga owes its success to having greatly simplified and made accessible to the common man the teachings of earlier laughter pioneers who taught very similar concepts starting decades earlier.
It quickly grew as a grassroots social movement of independent community laughter clubs, promoting the ideal of a non-political, non-religious, non-racial, non-threatening, and non-competitive voluntary (simulated) approach to laughter.
Helpguide.org describes the benefits of laughter as shown below.
Physical benefits of laughter
• Boosts immunity
• Lowers stress hormones
• Decreases pain
• Relaxes your muscles
• Prevents heart disease
Mental Benefits of laughter
• Adds joy and zest to life
• Eases anxiety and tension
• Relieves stress
• Improves mood
• Strengthens resilience
Social benefits of laughter
• Strengthens relationships
• Attracts others to us
• Enhances teamwork
• Helps defuse conflict
• Promotes group bonding
Laughter is the best medicine
“Whoever said laughter is the best medicine was right - it's also the glue that holds friendships together. To laugh together at life's ridiculous turn of events makes those events bearable. To laugh at the funny things in life makes life wonderful. The real gift is having a friend to share…laughter with.”
We agree with the experts and it’s true, laughter makes us feel better. As adults we have to do so many things and life can be very stressful. We need to make time to be happy.
Look at the faces on the tube or the train or the bus and see who is smiling – most look miserable; saying good morning and smiling to someone can make them smile back, go on try it!
How many times have we heard Christmas is for children, no it’s not – the child is in all of us – just reach inside and find it. Let yourself have fun; adults are far too serious but we weren’t once upon a time.
Listen to comedy on your headphones or in the car, you will soon start laughing. Laughter is infectious. If you smile at someone then they might smile back unless you live in London and then they think you are weird!!!
What happens to our bodies when we laugh?
Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. Activate and relieve your stress response. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Laughing burns more calories?
This means, laughter will help improve your metabolism naturally, which in turn, influences your body to burn more calories and lose weight. Researchers have determined that just 15 minutes of laughter a day can help you burn between 10 and 40 calories, small we know but its better than being miserable.
Why do we cry when we laugh?
Others theorize people cry while laughing because of too much pressure around the tear ducts due to the body shaking during strong laughter. These tears are called reflex tears, which occur when the eyes come in contact with an irritant such as a strong gust of wind or the aroma of a freshly sliced onion.
Laughter is said to reduce the levels of stress
The hormone known as cortisol that is connected to stress reduces and that also lowers the metabolism rate.
Countering Negative people and situations with a smile to yourself and within
We meet people all the time who say they have a positive mental attitude and are working on their life issues. They say I’m fine when I am at home and focused on me. When I interact with people there seems to be a determination by many to burst my positive bubble. Our reply to that is sure there is, there’s millions of cup half empty people out there waiting to hijack you and destroy what you have because they don’t have it. The way to bat away the negative onslaught is to shrug your shoulders, smile to yourself and laugh under your breath. Feel sorry for them and turn around and walk away from them.
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Daily Laughter Practices for Health and Happiness
‘Laughter yoga is a perfect way to laugh and get exercise at the same time…I’ve tried it, and it works.’ – Oprah Winfrey
Laughter Is the Best Medicine!
A Collection of the 1000 Funniest Quotes to Make You Laugh, Relax, and Refresh! (Quotes of Fun and Inspiration)
Want to come in a good mood instantly? Need some funny and uplifting quotes with many of the truisms from our everyday lives? Looking for a gift that everyone likes? Then, Laughter Is the Best Medicine is your perfect choice!
Laughter Is Your Lifeline
“The timing of publication is perfect in this troubled, uncertain world and I am utterly delighted that Jo-Dee has offered such a constructive tool to help get us through.”
Dr Lynda Shaw
Neuroscientist and Author of ‘Your Brain Is Boss’
Laugh Your Way to Happiness
Use the Science of Laughter for Total Well-being (Unlock Health, Vitality and Positivity with Laughter, Yoga and More)
There’s no feeling quite like the blissful warmth and serene calm in your body after hysterically cackling with dear friends, and in this book, Lesley Lyle will help you connect with the powerful healing gift laughter can bestow!
The Great Big Anthology: Five hundred laughter practices for health, fun and friendship
Laugh abundantly, without needing jokes nor comedy. These exercises are designed for Laughter Yoga sessions, and also work as improv games and to boost creativity.
Laughter therapy itself can be to provide help with mental health or stress-related issues, and the US based ‘Laughter Psychotherapist’ Enda Junkins has a site with useful tips.
Laughter Therapy is the UK’s leading provider of team events and workshops
Laughter Association UK provide facilitators to run workshops, events or conferences