Dr. Rachell N. Anderson
There is a movement sweeping the country that is designed to bring world peace. Diplomacy, democracy, and religion have not succeeded but comedians believe they can by focusing on something that’s universal, laughter. Groups like Laugh Factory and the Laughter Yoga (among other) movements have organized clubs, festivals and contests hoping to bring the world together through smiles and laughter as a positive manifestation for world peace and to build up a global consciousness of brotherhood and friendship. We could use some of that down here.
An article in the Associated Press 10/20/2014 reported that Jamie Masada who owns the venerable Hollywood nightclub, The Laugh Factory, has already seen this approach to peacemaking work effectively. But will it work here? It's one thing to get a liquored-up audience laughing with one liners but another to bring people from across the divide who dislike each other together — and hope they will laugh at each other. And yet, that's what Masada is trying to do with what he calls the first Funniest Person in the World competition. “During the latest Palestinian-Israeli tensions, Masada, an Iranian-born Jew, got the idea of defusing the ethnic tension amongst his customers at the night club for at least one night by hosting a comedy exhibition featuring locally popular Jewish comedians sharing the stage with their Muslim counterparts.” According to Masada “It was held in the spirit of a gathering where both sides would learn something about the other. However, initially, what ensued was intense stare downs from two sides of the club. After the comics started performing, sharing jokes and humor from their own experiences, the end of the night saw both sides of the house commingling, hugging and laughing out loud.
Created by Humorologist Izzy Gesell, World Laughter Day 2015 takes place on May 03. The goal of this day according to Gesell, is to get people to laugh, because "laughter is the best medicine"
With the success mentioned above, Masada decided to host a kind of Comedy Olympics to find the funniest person in the world. He searched comedy festivals worldwide for candidates and had people online vote for them to pare down the list to 10 semi-finalists. Those semi-finalists are scheduled to perform at the Laugh Factory and to an international virtual audience on Oct. 20. On that day, perfomers will be pared down to a group of five finalists will go to the Las Vegas arm of Laugh Factory to compete for the winning spot on Oct. 24.
Those who remember the “I Love Lucy” show, may want to know that the Lucy and Desi Arnez museum in Jamestown, New York is a destination for tourists around the world who come to celebrate the life and legacy of this comedy duo. One venue in the museum is called the Legacy of Laughter seminars, or LOLs. It includes panel discussions with audience interaction that explore and celebrate the value of laughter. People who create or perform comedy, who use it in their work, or who have been healed by comedy are sought. One participant at the center claims she was cured of cancer by watching "I Love Lucy" reruns.
Even the much maligned April Fool’s day can be good for your health because it encourages jokes, hoaxes, pranks, an belly laughs, and brings all the benefits of laughter including stress relief and reduction of strain on the heart.
People scoff when someone says they want "world peace," as if it's impossible. The irony is that it's very possible, even if there are a few people you may want to kill first. HaHa. But seriously, people like to be around optimistic people who make them laugh or make them happy; it’s contagious! That’s why they say, "Laugh and The World Laughs With You."
So, the comedians are doing their parts and we could use a few laughs around here. If it's possible to laugh your way out of a serious illness, why don't we try it for other things that have gone wrong in the world.
What Can You Do To Brighten Your Surroundings?
1. Laughter can arise from such activities as being tickled, or from humorous stories or thoughts. Share one with a friend or stranger.
2. Tell a joke or two. Jokes have the power to grab our attention and focus our mind. Laughter from jokes can snap us out of melancholy, put things back into perspective, and provide the momentum to make the best of life.
3. Occasionally, find your inner child. Childlike playfulness is a human need and can help us be merrier. Be playful with others. Develop a comical sense to see absurdity in daily life and before long the smiles will come.
4. Lighten up and simplify your problems. sometimes, the simple and the unexpected can bring genuine smiles and relief to the most serious of concerns.
5. Have you had your laugh today? If not, hop to it. If so, pass it on.
© Rachell N. Anderson, Psy. D. April 7, 2015
Dr. Rachell Anderson is a native of Tunica, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a Private Clinical Practice in Springfield, Illinois for many years. She now lives and writes in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website at WWW.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books.