Monday, August 23, 2010

My Favorite Comedic Moments

  • The overcrowded train compartment in the Marx Brothers’ Night at the Opera
  • The candy factory with Ethel and Lucy
  • Harpo and Lucy (Lucille Ball of course) mirroring each other in perfect mime
  • Ellen DeGeneres singing with Jennifer Hudson in the shower
  • Carol Burnett wearing Scarlet O’Hara’s curtains
  • Phil Silvers with his monkey recruit
  • Jane Curtin giving birth in The Coneheads
  • Harvey Korman loosing it in the middle of a scene
  • Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin
  • The man “driving” his defective truck up and down the hill in The Gods Must be Crazy
  • Robin Williams doing Sarah Palin
  • Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau saying the word “phone”
  • John Cleese saying anything
  • Ellen DeGeneres trying to make Betty White laugh with mouth props
  • Glenn Close as Cruella DeVille
  • Kevin Kline smelling his armpits and rattling off in Italian in A Fish Called Wanda
  • Beyonce’s dance number with the guys on Saturday Night Live
  • Chris Rock’s facial expressions
  • Pheonix twirling like Teresa in my laughter club
What's your favorite comedy scene!

Photo: Wikimedia

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Laughter and Song

UUU – it was half of a license plate on the car in front of us. “UUU …interesting” I mumble half to myself. Within seconds Rex has broken into song – “You you you, I’m in love with you, you, you”. In less than a second I’ve broken into peals of laughter. On he goes. On I go, until I shout, “Rex, pay attention!!!” As a car pulls out in front of us, sparking another old time tune, “A man is a worrisome thing…”. More strains of laughter. On and on.

Rex breaking into song is one of the highlights of my life. Every phrase I utter seems to have a song attached. Rex grew up on radio listening to old songs that are completely foreign to me. His repertoire is endless.

I’ll say “Our primroses are blooming.” He breaks into “Life’s a holiday on primrose lane…” I mention debt. He launches into “…loading 16 tons and what’d ya get, another year older and deeper in debt.” While on a walk I mention, “Let’s cross over to the sunny side of the street.” Out comes, “Just plant your feet on the sunny side of the street…” I declare one evening that flexibility’s my middle name. Feigning a mean southern baritone drawl, he launches into “Fightin’ and trouble’s my middle name. One fist of iron, the other steel. If the right one don’t getcha, the left one we’el.” I say something about “this evening…”. He’s broken into “…the evening breeze, caress the trees, tenderly…”

You get the idea. It’s endless laughter. I rework the humor for days after “singing” my own improvised version, causing myself to laugh at myself, over and over.

Steve Allen said the best humor comes from the reality of everyday life. How true.

Photo: Stock.xchnge

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


One of my most precious memories of my mother came towards the very end of her life. It makes me laugh to this day, thinking of how she would crumble into a mass of giggles at her inability to control the flow of air through her intestines; even in public, much to my embarrassment.

Another story shared by a college student in my Laughter in Life class, made all of us erupt into peals of laughter. The homework assignment was to bring a story about how laughter helped with a challenging situation. This student relayed how a friend was very depressed after being laid up in the hospital following a bad accident. During one of his visits, his friend’s young daughter walked by his hospital bed and suddenly let out a significant unabashed fart. In an instant it broke his friend’s dark mood causing him to burst into laughter, enabling him to lighten up about his physical pain and his difficult situation.

Farts are a good thing because they bring more laughter into the world.

Consider that the iFart application, a digital whoopee cushion for Apple’s iphone, has been purchased more than 350,000 times, making it one of the most popular add-ons.

My friend Sean is a another great example. He is nine years old, and I suppose for that reason, the topic of farts has brought us endless laughter.

Of course he has a Whoopy Cushion, you place on the chair of an unsuspecting friend.

He shares his Flarp with me, a pretty gross but hilarious toy that consists of a gooey glob of substance in a plastic jar. You stick your hand in the jar of goo and it lets out a surprisingly authentic fart sound. We can’t get enough of it.

One of his favorite books is called Oh Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty by Joy Masoff, a former cub scout leader (who later switched to the girl scouts, only to find they had the same disgusting interests). It discusses such topics as body odor, dandruff, pus, vomit and the all time laugh-getter: farts. One entry is titled: “10 Foods that can make you Airborne.” Sean tortures me by reading aloud passages from this book, much to his delight.

But Sean’s show- stopper is his fart speech by Benjamin Franklin, called “Fart Proudly”. At first I refused to believe him, but it’s all in a book of the same name, edited by Carl Japikse, subtitled “Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School”. Mr. Japikse calls these writings “a testament to the satirical rogue that lived peaceably inside the philosopher and statesman….It is a loving tribute to the ideal of a free press in this country.” Apparently Ben loved to stir things up. He wasn’t just a man who went around saying things like “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Back to Sean - he is at his finest as he jumps onto the stairs leading into his den to recite by heart Benjamin Franklin’s recitation on farts:

“It is a small gesture, but one that can be very effective – especially in a large crowd. So fart, and if you must, fart often. But always fart without apology. Fart for freedom, fart for liberty – and fart proudly.”

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Play leads to Laughter

In the Laughter Club we play as much as possible during our laughter exercises, because play induces laughter. The proof: watch the children.

Children are the experts on laughing, because children play all day, laughing while they play. Children don’t need a big sophisticated joke to make them laugh. Children just laugh as part of their life, as part of their play.

Robert Provine, psychologist at University of Maryland, wrote a book called Laughter: A Scientific Investigation. Based on hours and hours of research done observing how and why it is that people laugh, Dr. Provine surprisingly found that laughter does not usually follow the telling of a joke, or even necessarily following something humorous. Rather most people laugh being with people they like and having a good time, i.e being playful.

As adults we spend far too much time being serious, working, being responsible, etc. If we don’t balance that with enough play time, we will be out of balance emotionally. So play is good for adults as well as for children. We release stress, learn to think more creatively, learn to be more flexible, lighten up in general, become more positive and cope more easily with the challenges of life.

Where there’s play, there’s laughter. Keep play alive in your life.

Photo: Stock.xchnge