Human beings love to laugh, and the average adult does so17 times a day. Humans love to laugh so much that there are actually industries built around it. Jokes, sitcoms and comedians are all designed to get us chuckling, because it makes us feel good.
For us it seems so natural, but the funny thing is that humans are one of the only species that expresses amusement. Laughing is actually a complex response that involves many of the same skills used in solving problems.
Humour is a great thing — that’s why we’ve all heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” There is strong evidence that it can actually improve health and help fight disease. Let’s think about laughter — what it is, what makes us laugh and how it can make us healthier and happier.
But what actually makes you giggle? According to scientists there are at least 41 ways of incurring amusement and some of them are: timing, repetition, sarcasm, slapstick, misunderstanding, parody and impersonation. Hearing a good joke is a common way of making us chortle and stand-up comedians are high on the list of our favourite entertainers.
We don’t all laugh at the same things and while the slapstick humour of Norman Wisdom is a great favourite with many around the world, some prefer the more subtle musical musings of Victor Borge, both of whom are now sadly deceased.
But while comedy can be a quite personal preference there are jokes that make us smile even though we may not agree with the subject. Some humour, often referred to as “sick”, can elicit a grin against our sensitivity.
Often when there is a tragedy in the news, social media is awash with unsuitable comments which we can find amusing. Is this an example of using comedy to alleviate an uncomfortable situation?
What we find funny can also be related to our age and social situation. There are currently situation comedies on the television that are aimed are the older generation. I am happy to leave the smutty innuendos of youth to BBC 3 and am enjoying the more gentle humour of the new BBC 1 series Boomers and the previous view of life through the eyes of irascible Victor Meldrew.
It would be interesting to compile a list of the favourite comedians of our Mature Times readers and remind each other of the personalities that made us laugh.
We all fondly remember Tommy Cooper and Les Dawson, but who remembers Cyril Fletcher and his odd odes? And how many females will feature in our list?
Do we not find women as funny as men or is this just a hang-over from the subjugation of women? Victoria Wood and Dawn French will have to be included but they are quite recent humourists.
Send us your favourites and your best joke or comedy moment and let’s share some laughs, after all it is all good medicine.
by Tina Foster