I don't remember how it started, or what I was looking for, but around 2:00 this morning, after writing a little on my book, I came across a video on YouTube of the Steve Allen Show. It was taped, I'd guess, around 1968. The video was of Foster Brooks. What was funny was that the panel of guests didn't know who he was or that his drunk schtick was just that. I was laughing so hard, I was afraid I was going to wake Nettl. You can see it here. Pay special attention to the expression on the face of the woman next to him. Priceless...
I'd forgotten how much I liked Brooks' comedy, so I started watching other videos of him, most of which were of the Dean Martin roast shows. What a treasure trove of really good comedy! Don Rickles especially busted me up and I eventually succeeded to wake my poor, sleeping partner with my unsuccessfully suppressed laughter. We then started watching outtakes from The Carol Burnett Show, laughing like idiots at 4:30 in the morning. What a great way to start the day!
Afterward, we philosophized about laughter and the sad state of television comedy nowadays. Where is the spontaneous comedy that really makes us laugh until we nearly pee our pants? In the age of one-liner, canned laughter sitcoms, and 24/7 "news", our funny bones aren't getting tickled like they used to be.
The old chestnut, Laughter is the best medicine, really is true, and what made the Burnett show so hilarious wasn't the skits themselves, but watching the cast crack each other up. This is because we as human creatures are supposed to laugh and suppressing laughter only makes the body mechanism force the matter on us. Have you ever been in church, or a meeting, or some other place where laughing wasn't "appropriate" and tried not to laugh at something? Usually, these are things that wouldn't be funny at a party, or someplace where laughter is okay.
Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T-cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress. It also creates natural anti-depressants and pain-killers. Perhaps our ultimate boycott on the pharmaceutical and medical insurance companies should be to get back to side-splitting laughter. Watch some of these videos yourself and see if you don't feel better.
Of course, I don't expect everyone to find my kind of humor to their taste, but that's what makes life so rich. We each have our own brand, which only adds to the laughter soup. How about this, then?
Have a laughter-filled day!