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 spark that ignites inside each of us.

“Laughter is the greatest weapon we have and we, as humans, use it the least.”

- Mark Twain

My Recommendation: Comedian Chrissie Mayr

I wanted to personally recommend Chrissie Mayr. She is a fun and exciting figure in the world of comedy. Her weekly show with a rotating panel can be found on Compound Media called Wet Spot.

She also has her own podcast called the Chrissie Mayr Podcast, which you can find on multiple platforms including iTunes and Spotify. You can watch the video version and live broadcasts on her YouTube channel. She features a wide range of guests and covers fascinating topics.

I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions as I was piecing together this article. Her perspective keeps an important pulse on what's going on in the world today, regarding the human right to expression. Enjoy!

Interview With Mayr

OUJLA: What is the role of the comedian and why is it important to bring laughter to others in your world?

MAYR: The role of the comedian, like any artist, changes with the times and should reflect the voice of the people. To say the things everyone else is thinking but not everyone is able to say out loud for one reason or another. Especially today where we live in a world that is so filtered and careful and PC- we need raw and real more than ever.

OUJLA: In this age of cancel culture, it seems that comedians are the front line of defense for free speech. What are your thoughts on this and what would you tell someone who has the mindset to shut down a comedian for doing their job?

MAYR: I wasn't "political" at all until March of this year when I started to wake up and see what was really going on with the rights of the American people and the direction our country was going. To see the attack on our First Amendment has definitely activated me. Social Media used to be a place where we could go and tell it like it is and now it's the place to go to be censored. I would tell them to not be so selfish. Think of how they would feel if things they really love were suddenly destroyed by the people who weren't even fans in the first place.

OUJLA: In these times of lockdowns, comedians are put in a tough position with venues/theatres not being able to open or at half capacity. What are your feelings towards this and the current state we find ourselves in? Also, what are good recommendations for getting creative content out there while staying relevant?

MAYR: I feel bad for all small business owners right now but urge them to do whatever they can to stay open. Comedy always finds a way, even in the worst of circumstances. Just like with prohibition, you can't stop demand but you can make it secretive and force it to go underground (or on a roof in NYC's case). I'm just as happy to make 12 people laugh as I am to make 200 people laugh.

My advice to any creative person would be to focus on what makes you feel alive, where do you find joy, and lean into that. If you love something that love will read to an audience and love is always relevant.

When stand-up shows dried up I leaned into a different love of mine, talking to people and getting deep with them, and then cranked up my podcast to 4x a week. So here I am at less than a year of operation and already at 140 episodes! Don't get discouraged and talk yourself out of it. No one can do what you do the way YOU DO IT. Don't let fear make all your decisions for you. Am I too corny? Who cares being corny is good for the soul.

Closing Thoughts

Remember, laughter is a form of release. It releases energy, heals, and renews. It's important to add a dose of laughter into our daily lives. Try to practice smiling more. Smiling is the beginning stage of laughter. Much like laughter, a smile can be contagious as well.

These days, we are so caught up on our devices we begin to lose sight of those around us. A simple smile could brighten up the day of both you and the recipients.

Remember to laugh at yourself. We have all had embarrassing moments and try not to take yourself too seriously. Try to find that little child inside of you. That playful side that sees the lighter side of things and able to laugh without hesitation. Take this advice into consideration and you will notice an uplifting feeling in your own mood and those around you.

“Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.”

- George Carlin

About the Author

Marcus Oujla is a researcher, knowledge seeker, and lover of the truth. He shares his passion for freedom and liberty through delivering impacting articles about pop culture, memes, and philosophy. Marcus brings his own piece of the puzzle to the Divine Frequency team. With a huge heart and gentle soul, he hopes to inform others while building them up. Marcus believes that we are all in this together.

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This article appeared first on Divine Frequency. This article (If American Culture Cancels Laughter, What's Left?) originally appeared on TheDivineFrequency.com and is free and open source. You have permission to share or republish this article in full so long as attribution to the author and thedivinefrequency.com is provided.

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