What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? | Moment's Notice
Edmonds Center for the Arts hosted its 10th annual “Night of Laughter” just a month ago. I missed it this year while visiting family, but the feeling in the theater, with 700-plus people laughing together, is something that all should experience.
Remarkable how it can make such a difference in a moment. Time seems to stop. The feeling of delight, and sharing that with whoever you are laughing with, becomes all-encompassing.
(What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot.)
Research has shown that laughter strengthens our immune system, improves alertness and memory, increases endorphin levels, lowers blood pressure and reduces tension, burns calories, increases the production of T-cells and helps the pituitary release pain-suppressing opiates.
“The Anatomy of an Illness” identified the connection between the endorphins created by laughter acting as an anesthetic to pain, both physical and emotional. More recently, researchers found that laughter causes the endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels, to dilate, which increases blood flow and is good for overall cardiovascular health. Laughter is literally good for our heart.
(What do you call a pig that does karate? A pork chop.)
All of these physiological manifestations have shown that laughter helps us deal with difficult situations. In the case of grief, laughter can help us get through the pain. It’s cathartic because we disconnect from our rational minds. Just this week, I sat with two dear friends as we roared with laughter over a happenstance at a funeral. Looking at each of them I felt my heart swell, not only in sympathy for their grief, but in gratitude for our ability to tell stories and heal together, wounds old and new.
(“We came here to pay respect, not to laugh,” said Mary Tyler Moore in the timeless skit about the funeral of Chuckles the Clown, in response to “I wonder which ones are the other clowns?” with “We’ll know because they will all get out of a little hearse.”)
My dad made everyone laugh. Some of our childhood friends can still describe his fake broken-finger shtick perfectly. His coworkers and family have cartoons he drew to recommend ways to deal with work challenges or portray family stories, and everyone who met him knew of his uncanny ability to rewrite even better captions to “Far Side” cartoons and others.
I did not understand most at age 9, but loved hearing him giggle, almost snicker, and treasured when he would explain the jokes to me, or why they were inexplicable.
(“Robert lived in Vermont, where he ate only the heads off of chocolate bunnies.”)
To this day, I remember sitting in study hall in seventh-grade with two friends, telling each other the best bad jokes we could think of (after finishing our homework, of course). One joke was so funny that we were laughing and crying hysterically, while worried about getting in trouble.
Perhaps we didn’t get detention because our teacher thought it was wonderful that we were making each other happy, or maybe he knew that we have fewer opportunities to laugh like that as life starts to throw curve balls. Or maybe he wanted to chuckle.
Why did the monkey fall out of the tree ...? Tell us your favorite, family friendly joke, and we’ll supply the answer. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.