Clowns, comedians, and funny folk bring something to our lives that can go deep into our souls. Often we think of laughter as something that’s flippant and short-lived—something that’s momentary and fleeting, but it accomplishes something that can be healthy and long-lasting. Laughter brings comic relief to counter stress and tension. In my life of family-friendly entertainment and programs infused with humor, clown comedy and creative methods, I’ve found that use of humor helps audiences in numerous ways—whether that be at a school, hospital, church or corporate event.
Laughter lightens the heaviness of one’s heart and deflates the power of pain. Laughter shines a light into the darkness of a situation and one’s soul. If a person can laugh when in a tough condition, that person can conquer it. Viktor Frankl, Nazi Death camp survivor, states, “I never would have made it if I could not have laughed. It lifted me momentarily out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable.”
Historic American storyteller, Mark Twain, stated “The human race has only one really effective weapon, and that’s laughter. The moment it arises, all our hardness’s yield, all our irritations and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.”
Laughter ignites hope in the psyche as people’s stress fades. They have a new vantage point to look down on their problems, rather than trying to stand up underneath the pressure of them. Laughter brings lightheartedness which allows them to climb above the struggles – and potentially soar!
Emmett Kelly, Sr. performed as his lovable hobo clown character, Weary Willy, for decades in the mid 1900’s. He stated, “By laughing at me, the audience really laughs at themselves and realizing they have done this, gives them sort of a spiritual second wind for going back into the battles of life.”
Besides emotional, psychological and spiritual benefits to laughter, there are also physical benefits. When a person laughs, the lungs expand and the airflow increases, thus helping clear the air passage. Some have referred to laughter as “internal jogging,” because the stomach muscles and diaphragm are activated, which also improves digestion. The heart rate increases and blood pressure raises and then lowers below the previous level at rest. Physical stress in the muscles is relieved. The natural chemicals known as endorphins are released into one’s system which acts as natural pain killers. The physical benefits of laughter have been scientifically measured and are medically proven.
The writer knew the truth when he penned Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart does good like a medicine.”
I’m happy to be a “doctor of merriment,” a comedian, a humorist, a clown…one who brings comic relief.