Tony Hawks is a much admired British Stand-up Comic

 

Laughter has always been part of my life but recently I began to think more deeply about it when I was asked to contribute to a radio program, Laugh Out Loud. Not long before this, I’d returned from a trip to India where I’d met people who claimed that laughter can actually improve the state of our health.

Whilst aimlessly wandering around Calcutta, as you do, I turned a corner in a public park and stumbled upon a group of about a hundred people standing under a huge banyan tree. Predominantly elderly, they were all following the instructions of a man waving his arms and urging them to chant “Ho!” and “Ha!” at regular intervals. Suddenly, everybody burst into hysterical laughter, throwing their heads back and waving their arms in the air. All very odd.

Then one of the men approached me and asked if I would be interesting in joining their “Laughing Club”. ‘We meet every morning at this time,” he said, with a friendliness I’d rarely noted in British parks, ‘Why don’t you come? You will enjoy the benefits that laughter can bring.” The man, almost evangelical in his enthusiasm, went on to assert that laughing artificially every morning could help with asthma, arthritis, back pain, digestive problems, depression, fatigue, insomnia, obesity, rheumatism and a weak memory.

And so not being one to turn down a challenge, I joined these strange “laughers” the following morning. Initially I was deeply sceptical. After all I was being asked to force a laugh and I’d been brought up in a culture where we only laugh when we find something funny, or when someone has said something distinctly unfunny and we want to mock them and make them cry.

However, I was soon called upon to let out a huge guffaw, and I found myself going for it.
“Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ho!”

Hey, I could get good at this, I thought. Further efforts began to free up some part of me that usually remained dormant till after lunch and though it felt truly odd to be forcing the laughs, I was finding that the process was making me feel wide awake, happy, and refreshingly alive.

I continued to attend for the rest of my week’s stay, and although I can’t be sure that it has since benefited my health, I can report that asthma, arthritis, back pain, digestive problems, depression, fatigue, insomnia, obesity and rheumatism all happily remain total strangers to me.

So when you hear me on the radio, even if you don’t find what I say funny, try to force a laugh. It may save you a trip to the doctors.

This article is by Tony Hawks.
For those who don’t know Tony, he is a British Stand-up Comic, frequently featured on British radio & TV Shows

 as Oscar Wilde famously said;
Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship and it is by far the best ending for one.

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