When was the last time you gave out such a deep belly laugh that you had no choice but to release it through your mouth? A type of a self-allowed explosion of air and expression relinquished from your gut, where you just can’t help it! Or is it from your chest? What I’m talking about is the type of laugh that could be considered almost verbal in nature. You know…with a sound, that if held in, would defy the intention of the feeling that came over you.
As a performer and presenter, out loud laughter is easily noticed when in front of an audience. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but it is also noticeable when it’s not there too. It’s a nice confirmation of, “oh this is why we are doing this, and there are people out there listening, fully engaged in what we are doing.” And it’s interesting doing the same material to multiple audiences where the laughter comes out at different moments. The wonder of: wow, I can’t believe they laughed then, I wonder what their interpretation was and what they thought was humorous. Or the: of course they laughed after that line, everyone thinks it’s funny because it’s just, well…funny.
I love dictionaries! For example, from writing this, I got curious about the word “dictionary.” What is this thing that gives meaning if you will, to our language, or any language really. It means – “a reference book containing an alphabetical list of words with definitions or equivalent translations into another language.” But for the sake of this blog entry, I wanted to see what “funny” meant. Funny- causing laughter or amusement. Then wouldn’t that mean it was intended to be out loud?!
When a person laughs out loud, it’s usually an expression of, yes I found what you just said funny. But I’m curious…when they don’t, is it because they didn’t find it funny, or that it just wasn’t funny at all. Or is it really because they don’t have the ability to laugh out loud?
I was talking with a friend of mine about it and she said that it’s almost a social responsibility to take this outward directed action. And we discussed the many different types of laughs. To be more specific, the types can be broken up into the dark uncomfortable category, or a lighthearted category.
A dark example could be the proper laugh which does make noise, but seems to be intentionally careful not to make too much noise. Then there is the inappropriate laugh. Inappropriate only because it’s being judged by others as “you just did that at an inopportune moment.” A sort of, “I’m almost embarrassed for you” judgment. Let’s not forget the disconcerting laugh where in itself, it’s saying something without having to say anything. That could also be considered a snicker.
The lighthearted kind could be the empowering, flirtatious, and punctuated laughs. To empower another with a laugh is in a sense to support the speaker. The flirtatious one is to compliment the other by showing that person; I’m interested in what you are saying. Or let’s be honest, the subtext is really, I’m interested in you. And punctuated laughs are an honest response to something that was perceived as quite possibly hilarious.
You know I actually learned that there is such thing as a chortle laugh. Who knew such a thing existed. Another one of those words I had to look up in the dictionary. My friend taught me that. It’s a blend of a snort and a chuckle. I love those. Those are typically contagious and bring additional laughter because of the mere sounds the person makes when they chortle. It could be the most embarrassing kind, but in my opinion it’s the most honest and a complete freedom of expression. A little girl I know feels so free she snorts, and intentionally. Coming from a 5 year old it is kind of cute.
There are so many different types; the jealous laugh, the nervous one, and even the dorky laugh. Or is that the same as the chortle? I know there are those of you out there that might have been quieted by someone else because of your boisterous laugh. This is something I’ve experienced at least once, as I definitely have an out loud laugh. But hey, if that ever happens to you, look at the person who just shushed you, and maybe ask them, what just made you so uncomfortable? Because it’s probably not your laugh, it’s most likely a personal issue for them.
As human beings, laughter is something we need to experience so much so, that we’ll pay other people to make us laugh. The comedy club is that exact arena or another example is the comedy genre in film. As audience members we are in a sense challenging the person on stage or the big screen to pull that expression out of us. Almost a subconscious begging of “Please make me laugh! Please let me experience that release of energy where I can go home and sleep well because I feel satisfied.” Sort of like great sex. Hopefully everyone reading this has experienced this at least once in their life.
And the beauty is when the comedian or comedy is done effortlessly. Where the less they try to be funny, the more they are. It’s all in the delivery. How a word is said could imply different meanings. Simple but yet complicated.
Laughter is learned. Don’t you find it interesting to watch infants smile off of your smile or laugh because you’re laughing? I think it’s mostly because they’re too young to realize why they are even laughing. They just do it. And they don’t care what they look like, or what they sound like. It’s a primal response. Everyone is born with the ability and we are just waiting to learn how. And why is it that the older we get, depending on the situation, the more it seems that we need permission to do so.
Maybe it’s a male/female thing? I know, almost any subject matter is examined in terms of the male and female genders. But seriously…does a woman laugh out loud more than men? And if a woman doesn’t laugh out loud, could she be considered more reserved? Does it make her more feminine or acceptable…or if she doesn’t is it because she is just being introspective. There has even been studies done on the difference between what a man would find funny compared to a woman. I actually read about that just the other day.
Laughter I’m sure also helps to establish relationships. There are those laughs that are so distinct that they are a person’s signature. And a person’s laugh can function like a natural human scent. It’s also true that attraction can be based on how much maybe; a man enjoys the laughter of a woman. And there is even code in email to show laughter, expressed as “LOL” or “Ha-Ha” or the good o’l smileys.
Speaking of the internet, I tend to Google things to see what I can find. And I Google’d “Laugh Out Loud.” And believe it or not, I actually found out that they have Laughter Clubs in India. And I found a site where they have laughter fitness and laughter school. Where the responsibility of the leaders is to help create an environment of community in which everyone can contribute to help each other grow, relieve stress, find balance, gain a better outlook, and have fun. Most people hate their job which is a whole other conversation, but I doubt if they ever have the water cooler sessions complaining about their job.
Laughter can be the sign of a true leader. Have you noticed those times that when someone did laugh out loud that it was almost like permission for others to do the same? And in other cases, if a leader in a group is subdued and tired and doesn’t laugh, then others won’t either. It also can kind of make you think about the roles we play in society.
So I say, be the instigator! Make it infectious for others to feel comfortable. It’s a gift, so go on and give it away! I‘m giving you permission, and you know it’s also been known to strengthen immune systems. Flu season’s coming…or you could go out and get a flu shot. Although laughter does seem a little less painful…