Monday, January 12, 2009

Serious Thoughts about Humor

I’ve been thinking more about that question of what constitutes a good sense of humor. I know, it may be like what they say about analyzing a joke – or dissecting a frog – that it tends to die in the process.

Anyway, here’s my new theory. When we say what we love about someone is their sense of humor, we may indeed mean that they are funny and say or do things that are funny.

But maybe not. People saying and doing funny things is not what makes us laugh, really laugh, laugh until our sides hurt and eyes water.

Nope. What really brings us to the point of vigorous, therapeutic laughter is being around someone who is a great LAUGHER. Someone who loves to laugh, who laughs even when it’s not really all that funny, who laughs until other people start to laugh too. In short, someone who has a strong SENSE of humor. They may or may not be the person who says the funny things, but they make it funny because they laugh.

So much of life is like that, made better by someone’s appreciation. I think of those who make food taste better by seasoning it with the sauce of their praise. Others can make a situation romantic by believing that it already is, or stir up a sense adventure by discovering the spark of adventure and nursing it into a flame that others can sense as well. Some point out the beauty in nature, maybe sharing that through painting or photography. And there are those who help us see that people are fascinating because they see something inside a person and know how to draw out the story so others can recognize and appreciate it too.

Maybe it’s like watching sports with a die-hard fan, or better yet, a crowd of them. It can be a lot more fun that way. (Although I guess sometimes that backfires; it pokes at the part of us that gets suspicious about mob mentalities and won’t go along, but that’s another post.)

And so it is with humor.

Don’t you love being in a group that has at least 1-2 people who love to laugh, who have that sense or skill or gift, or whatever it is? And – this is the part I want to emphasize – don’t you feel more loved by and, well, “in love” (in a sense) with the people in a group like that? I mean, don’t you feel closer to people with whom you regularly laugh, hard, like that? It’s like glue!

If you are an actual Laughter Catalyst (to coin a term for it) you may experience and create this wherever you go and not realize that other people don’t know what that’s like or how to do it. But for the rest of us, we don’t often really laugh like that unless you are with us. And it makes a huge difference.

And, for the rest of us – especially those of us who do a lot of public speaking and stuff like that: Wouldn’t it be great to always have a Laughter Catalyst traveling around with you? Not only would you have a lot more fun in life, and be able to form better relationship bonds, but everyone would think you were really funny!

Anybody remember "Uncle Albert" from Mary Poppins? Definitely gifted!


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the thoughts you present in this post. How true it is that who we are with greatly affects our outlook on things and vice-versa we affect others.

The term you have given us: "Laughter Catalyst", is very nice. Though at times I find myself laughing at the wrong moments for the most part it is something about my God given nature that I am very grateful for.

I can soundly say with my our dear Uncle Albert, "I love to laugh!" That has always been my favorite song from that wonderful masterpiece of a movie.


Marti said...

Thanks, Angie. I printed out your "Attitude is almost everything" post ( and put it on my bulletin board at home!

Alas, I am not a Laugh Catalyst myself. I can be a great stand-up comedian - but tend to take life, itself, so darn serious! But I love my I-love-to-laugh friends. They make the world such a brighter place!

Tell your husband I appreciate his blog series on happiness too. Funny how we all end up on the same journey at times!

I don't know if I could choose a favorite song from Mary Poppins... it is, yes, a masterpiece! And when I really need to cheer up, I pull out my CD's of the Dick Van Dyke show. He cracks me up. Sent the collection out with a short-term team who found he was the perfect extra teammate to come home to at the end of the day!