“Life is worth living as long as there’s a laugh in it.” Lucy Maud Montgomery
At the age of five, I first experienced the wonder of Mary Poppins on film. It was sunshine and lollipops on the big screen. And, for me, the pinnacle was Ed Wynn floating and singing “I Love to Laugh.” Even now when I think of it I can’t help smile.
Humor is an important part of my life, always has been. According to my mom, I was a funny kid. I didn’t always mean to be, but I was. I did silly things, said silly things, performed spontaneous silly acts. As a toddler I walked about the house with a box on my head and talked a blue streak to myself. In pre-toddler years, it was said that when I performed a funny little dance that meant it was time to change my diaper. If it feels good, do it.
My mind finds most everything funny, or ironic. Quips escape my lips faster than water from a broken hydrant. At times, I marvel at my own thoughts, at times I don’t understand why others don’t see the humor in things, at times I wish I’d kept my mouth shut. C’est la vie.
I’ve experienced many forms of laughter: the spontaneous blurt; the screaming laughter; the titter (yes, I just chuckled as I typed that word); the mirth-filled snort; the ‘lol’; the uncontrollable that produces tears and excess mucous (and perhaps various and sundry other bodily fluids); the inappropriate laugh that you have to swallow; and any other that exists.
My friends all like to laugh, that’s part of why they’re my friends. And with some longtime friends, the laughter is as powerful now as it was decades ago. Maybe there is a more mature tone to it. Nah. What’s the fun in that? As a high school teacher, I tried to avoid certain words in the classroom. Believe it or not, the word “duty” takes on a whole new meaning to adolescents. I always included a specific Sherlock Holmes short story because when Watson has to awaken Holmes he says, “Sorry to have knocked you up, Holmes.” Minutes would pass as the students laughed deliriously. This episode was always followed by a few specific questions: “Are they gay?,” “Why are they living together?,” and my favorite, “Is Holmes really a woman?” Believe me, at times like this it was hard to remain in adult mode given my own state of foolish mind. But there are teachable moments in every situation and I would turn the discussion to differences in language and time periods.
Given my non-married status a student once asked if I was queer. My instantaneous response, “I’ve been known to be considered odd from time to time,” at which point I burst into laughter. Then I would have to explain my response because they didn’t get it and thought I’d gone off the deep end. It was an honest answer. The question was rude. Thankfully my reaction distracted us from the question’s original intent.
There are times when I crack myself up and I’ve been known to start laughing for no apparent reason. In my own head there’s a reason. Things and words just strike me as funny. Through the miracle of the Internet, I can feed this habit at any time by watching videos. And some I can watch over and over and over, like the iconic dance greats dancing to “Uptown Funk.” A laughable favorite is “Mafia Babies,” part of the Brock’s Dub series on YouTube. If there are sight gags along with silly language, I’m just a mess. I like the thinking dogs who say “heckin'” and express their thoughts in ways that I’ve actually thought on my own. I like any of the Bad Lip Reading series. Honestly, I don’t always need the outside visual because I’m pretty entertaining on my own (at least in my own head I am).
Laughter has saved me and I mean that in the most literal sense. Let yourself be silly, let yourself laugh randomly, let yourself be amused. It’s marvelously restorative. Haha.