Laughter – The One Contagion That Should Infect Each One of Us

Adiel Gorel

Why We Must Laugh – Even Though They Don’t Want Us to Laugh


One of the things that have always been of interest to me is natural healing modalities; things we can do by ourselves to improve our health. They say laughter is the best medicine, and Craig Shoemaker for one is in complete agreement. As a standup comic and showbiz entertainer, he is better qualified than most to speak about laughter and its positive impacts on people. In the second part of our conversation, we spoke about laughter, about why society has always sought to muzzle comics, and why comics have been all the more censored recently.

Norman Cousins and Anatomy of an Illness.

Craig spoke to me about how helping to heal his friend’s cancer via laughter, and about the inspiration he drew from Norman Cousins and his 1979 book Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient. Cousins was diagnosed with a crippling and painful collagen disease in the 1960 and was given a one in 500 chance of recovery. Vitamin C and laughter were his medications at the time. He watched a lot of TV shows such as Candid Camera and other comic films, which induced laughter.
The laughter in turn had an anesthetic impact on his pain and would give him up to two hours of restful, pain free sleep. His innate optimism, attitude of kindness and zest for life helped him fight his illness as well, Cousins maintained. This actually makes a lot of sense to me: hugging and kissing feels good, it puts us in a better frame of mind and makes us feel so much more joyful. When we experience joy, this can literally help us forget our aches and pains. It stands to reason that any way in which we experience joy, can only be good for us!

They don’t want your joy.

On the podcast Craig and I also speak about narrative building in our society, and how dangerous that can be because it helps the powerful retain their power. He explains how the comic is often feared because it is the comic that calls out the BS and that speaks truth to power. The fact is that the comic is always sought to be silenced because of the way in which the comic ridicules those in power and humanizes them. While the powerful try to prey on our insecurities by virtue of alarmism and creating a false sense of grievance, the comic demystifies all of it and takes away some of that power.
In recent times, the comic has become all the more embattled. While earlier nothing was considered beyond the pale, now there are numerous words that are off-limits, even for comics. The comic runs the risk of being canceled at the drop of a hat today, particularly if their material touches upon politics and religion. According to Craig, there are people out there just looking to be offended. We have turned into a self-obsessed society where we feel the need to share all our thoughts and feelings, and the need to gain validation for those.
It was an enlightening and thought-provoking conversation that I had with Craig: a freewheeling discussion about not just laughter but also the ways in which mirth is sought to be suppressed. Check out my podcast with actor and standup comic Craig Shoemaker. 
Adiel Gorel

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