If American Culture Cancels Laughter, What's Left?

by Marcus Oujla, December 23, 2020

In such trying times there is a need to go back to the basics of what helps us feel alive and bring some of our humanity back to the surface.

Why So Serious?

Laughter is a great tool and mechanism for so many aspects of our lives. It allows us to connect with other individuals on a unique level that can bring joy to all surrounding parties. Whether it’s sharing a rather funny personal experience with a close friend, entertaining guests at a dinner party, or a roar from a crowd at a comedy show, laughter is a huge part of who we are that should not be overlooked.

Laughter is a bridge to bring people together. It lifts our spirits, inspires hope, lowers stress levels, relieves pain, diminishes anger, increases energy, heals resentment, alleviates burdens, strengthens relationships, and brings perspective back into balance.

Why else is laughter such a necessary part of our lives?

Laughter Has Healing Effects

When it comes to the physical qualities of being able to laugh, it can help the body to relax for up to 45 minutes while relaxing the tension we feel in our muscles. Endorphins are released. Endorphins are the body's natural chemical that makes us happy and an overall sense of well-being. Laughter can help the function of the heart by increasing blood flow which protects against cardiovascular problems. It might sound insignificant, but laughing only 10 to 15 minutes a day can help to burn around 40 calories. A study in Norway showed people with an elevated sense of humour were able to live longer while battling cancer.

Overall, laughter can help us physically, mentally, and socially, and should not be taken for granted.

“Laughter heals all wounds, and that’s one thing that everybody shares. No matter what you’re going through, it makes you forget about your problems. I think the world should keep laughing.”

- Kevin Hart

Releasing The Weight of the World

Remember back when you were a child. Tapping into laughter is one of the biggest components of how children communicate with each other. While we may have been able to describe in depth the message we are trying to relay, laughter was such a contagious way of speaking that made every other child laugh in unity. Even if a child cried or threw a tantrum, the best solution was to try and get them to laugh.

As we grew into our teens, we became more anxious and cautious of others and what they might think of us. We began to understand how dark and cruel this world can be. It became embedded in us through what we watched and read, the information we received from others and developed a more complex view we learned from adults. We realized it wasn't all fun and games. There is a certain innocence to the way children view the world. Even as an adult, I feel we can’t lose that spark we once had as children.

Robin Williams, A Man of Comedy

Take Robin Williams for instance. Williams was one of the world's greatest comedians who brought laughter to millions of people.

On the other hand, he also suffered greatly in his life. His passion for wanting to make others laugh was always noticed, even when the cameras were off. Living with such a great deal of depression, he did not want others to feel how he felt. This inspired him to make it his duty to bring joy into the lives of those around him through laughter.

He turned his own sadness around into giving the gift of laughter to so many people. He will always be remembered as someone who made the world smile.

Patch Adams, The Doctor Who Prescribed Laughter

Robin Williams once played a character in a movie, Patch Adams. Adams was actually based on a real character. Adams suffered much loss in his life. His father passed away when Adams was young. Adams greatly admired his uncle who took him in. Unfortunately, Adam's uncle later committed suicide, causing Adams to become deeply interested in the phenomenon. After experiencing a break up in high school, Adams decided to attempt jumping off a cliff. Before jumping, he tried writing her a poem. It took him a long time to find the right words to use, and ultimately, he decided not to attempt suicide after all. He ended up seeking help from his mother and checking into a hospital to get mental rehabilitation.

While in the hospital, he observed many of the patients. He had a realization about people suffering from loneliness. Unlike him, many of these patients didn’t have a single person who loved them. He soon discovered the key to happiness was to have loving and caring people in your life. This realization made Adams want to become a doctor.

Many years later and after pursuing a medical career, he founded the Gesundheit! Institute. This was based around alternative medicine and encouraged medical students to have more compassionate connections with their clients by using humour and play. This brought laughter to the sick and vulnerable. As part of this treatment they would dress like clowns and tried to uplift the spirits of many individuals.

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy. Because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anybody else to feel like that.”

- Robin Williams

The Destructive Nature of Cancel Culture

In today’s society many people are policing the type of comedy that is allowed. It’s necessary to see the other side of this looking glass. They are artists and to limit their ability to explore new ideas is a dangerous road to go down.

Almost everyone has the ability to have a message to be seen world wide. Trying to silence what jokes people can or cannot say is becoming more easy and accessible. You have to remember no matter what the subject or matter is, someone will always be offended. There is no getting around that. We are all unique and have different experiences in our lives. We must always keep in mind, as much as there is a joke that may hit a nerve with someone, there is someone else out there who has experienced the pain of that topic tenfold and this might be the only way they can get over it.

To be able to laugh at something so dark that happened to them can sometimes be a healing tool for them to cope and be able to push forward in life.

Step Out of Your Myopic Viewpoint, Please.

Keep in mind it’s not always about you.

We have the right to not listen to something, change a channel, flip a page. We do have more control than we realize in our own lives. To stop anyone else from enjoying themselves can seem self-centered, to take a second look at what you are attempting to impose upon others.

The overall good that can come from any comedian can outweigh the bad. Intention should always be brought into question before making a judgment. You’ll find most of the time, the only intent of a comedian is to make someone laugh. Something my father always taught me from a young age is that you can find humour in anything even in something dark. To shine light into something dark can take away its power it may hold.

A comedian is able to explore through artistic expression which creates new lines of thinking and transmit it into the world to share with others. That feeling of being able to make someone else laugh is a