It was just yesterday that I had a conversation with a bright young woman about laughter. I mentioned that I liked giving her laughter (she has a very nice, natural laugh), and she thanked me.
I don’t feel much like laughing at the moment. Even without consulting Social Media, it’s easy to see the darker side of life—you have only to walk down the street and be attentive. Circumstances in our lives prompt a variety of reactions from assertion to aggression, from resignation to defeat. No laughter, though.
I tell people I don’t have that great a sense of humour. When someone says, ‘Make me laugh,’ my mind goes blank, or I think of the dirtiest story I recently heard but can’t repeat. If I put a little muscle into it, I can make a fool of myself—that does make some people laugh. It’s peculiar that when I say I don’t have that great a sense of humour, people invariably laugh.
Laughter helps build relationships. People appreciate people who give them laughter. People are drawn to those with whom they feel comfortable.
I mentioned in my last article that I’m researching clowns for a writing project I’m considering. Looking at search engines, more posts come up about crazy clowns, killer clowns, and creepy clowns than the kind of clowns I want to write about. You won’t find images of Bozo, Harlequin or Pagliacci, but you will of Tim Curry playing Pennywise (killer clown) in ‘IT’. Like everything else, the standards of clowning appear to be twisting in the wind. As people become more jaded, so do clowns.
I gave long consideration to the question, ‘why do we like to give laughter to others?’ I think about people like Victor Borge, a brilliant musician, pianist, and comedic performer who knew the value of the unexpected. In addition to his musical comedy, he developed routines like ‘Phonetic Punctuation’ (which can’t be reproduced here) and ‘Inflationary Language’, in which ‘anyone for tennis?’ becomes ‘anytwo five elevenis?’ He was called ‘The Clown Prince of Denmark’. People were glad to know him. He was both a gentleman, and a gentle man. The humour was gentle, clean, and painless. He integrated different types of humour to entertain his audiences.
Contrast that to to-day’s version of humour—insults, put-downs, and crudity. Groin-shots and falling off ladders are guaranteed laughs on funny-video programmes. People laugh because they need to. I would venture to suggest, they are desperate to laugh. They wouldn’t like to be on the receiving end of such pranks, though. I think it’s this mindset of desperation that has twisted the image of the clown from someone who gives laughter to someone who gives emotional brutality while following the rules of humour.
We need things that reflect the difficulties and tragedies of our lives, so we can laugh at them. The ability to see something laughable helps to maintain perspective. Giving laughter benefits the giver and the receiver. It is, in fact, an act and a gift of love on any of Love’s many levels. A simple joke is sometimes enough to break the tension of a situation, so a resolution can be achieved.
The best relationships I have are based on three things: honesty, mutual respect, and the ability to give laughter.
It makes me feel loved. How about you?
Paul TN Chapman
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