Thursday, May 26, 2011

Throw 'em off with Laughter

She asked me to find homes for her newborn kittens. I laughed so hard, it not only threw her completely off base, she never again asked me inappropriate requests.

It was the “challenging” wife of my boss, who mistakenly thought she was “the boss”.

Fortunately for me, my laughter was hearty and genuine for I have a vast sense of humor. I wasn’t trying to insult her, it was just extremely funny to me, to be asked such a ludicrous thing. It was only in retrospect that I realized what a great tool I have for disarming people.

I once gave a lecture to a group of seniors with a disruptive curmudgeon in the audience who took on the role of harassing me. Luckily again all I could do was laugh. It shut him up immediately.

Obama is currently doing the same in response to the Birthers. I applaud him. If you donate $25 to his reelection campaign, you’ll receive a T-shirt (or a mug) with his birth certificate printed on one side and his photo on the other, titled “Made in USA”. It’s a great example of turning a ludicrous attack into a joke. It’s a great use of comedy. Turn it around and make it silly. Laugh them off.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Friend Austin is So Funny

My friend Austin is the funniest man I know. I have laughed much because of him. He has significantly increased my “total life-laughter ”.

His humorous dry wit was delivered in perfect timing when we had a neighborhood fire at the house of one especially irritating, chronically–barking dog. The animal in question was temporarily asphyxiated by the fire, only to be revived by the firemen to the tune of his ever-ready and overly-familiar bark. It was comic relief we all needed.

Austin also recalls the tenacious tanning efforts of his youth, trying to emulate his Italian buddies in the ethnic neighborhood of New York where he grew up. Ignoring his “flimsy white Irish skin”, he basked in the rays with his Mediterranean blood brothers “oozing melanin”. Unfortunately it has now gained him a few unwanted cancer cells on his skin. But only Austin can make cancer funny.

In his writing he is especially comical, calling assisted living centers “old age warehouses” and refusing his own “storage there”. He references Ulysses, who in his later years “sailed beyond the sunset” in his quest “to shine in use”. Austin is very literary.

Like many funny people, Austin is a sensitive soul. His feelings, his thoughts, his perceptions and insights run deep. It’s how he can cut to the core in a single hilarious statement.

Comedians have to reach deep inside to pull out the funny stuff. For humor has to touch the truth for it to be funny. Otherwise we wouldn’t laugh. The truth has tremendous power. There’s little strength in lies.

The ability to be funny is a rarified skill. You’re got to cut to the chase in an instant. Austin does it naturally, with a rapid beat and that effervescent positive spirit that I adore in him.

Everyone needs an Austin in their life.

Keep me laughing Austin. You make my life more joyful.

Photo: Austin not quite laughing, but if you look closely you might detect the funny lines forming in his brain

Friday, May 13, 2011

Laughter Yoga in Prison

Prisoners in India doing Laughter Yoga!

Photo: Laughter Yoga International

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Homeless Women

I’ve had the pleasure of leading a laughter yoga session, for a small group of women who temporarily reside at a women’s homeless shelter in downtown Seattle, a number of times. And it has always been a special thing.

Despite incredible life challenges, these women laugh. In fact they laugh and laugh and laugh almost uncontrollably. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else. They start laughing as I begin the laughter exercises and are truly unable to stop. Each laughter exercise has, or at least is meant to have, a definite beginning and a definite ending; with a much needed respite in between the hearty aerobic workout of laughter. Yet for these women there is hardly any pause.

There is a real intensity to it – an intensity of release, of joy, of losing oneself completely. It clearly shows how the higher the stress, the greater the need to laugh. Our bodies know this instinctively. Once we feel the release of stress through laughter, it’s sometimes hard to stop. It also clearly shows that intense life challenges need not kill off a joyful inner spirit.

Bravo to these special women!

Photo: stock.xchnge