Three stand-up comics, a comedy club owner and a psychiatrist tell us why a little LOL can go a long way
Why laughter really is the best medicine
If laughter is the best medicine, then stand up comedians should be the healthiest folks on the planet.
Mumbai-based Kenny Sebastian who has 10X the amount of laughter in his life since he got into the biz, tells us, “The business of comedy actually makes enjoying comedy slightly harder,” since jokes are
deliberated over, curated, and perfected in delivery.
So here’s why that means good news for you.
You and I, might actually feel more spontaneous joy when someone says something funny — than a professional comedian. Crazy eh?
Laughs are like currency in the world of stand up. But to the layman,
it’s free. Does that put a price tag (by way of pressure) on how often you
find yourself cracking up?
Well, it’s a challenge to make the business side of it understand that. Being a stand-up comedian means you are turning an aspect of your personality into a career, it gets hard for people to understand the difference. Luckily, humour is different from stand-up comedy. What we enjoy in daily life with our loved ones is quite different from the scripted and polished art of stand-up comedy on stage.
— Kenny Sebastian, Stand-up comedian
In the spirit of spontaneous laughs and pranks ahead of April Fool’s Day — we decided to dig deeper.
And, this might be a fun question to ponder the next time you take get high (uh, on life of course). Here it is: just how important is laughter?
Respected psychiatrist and author Vijay Nagaswami, who is based in Chennai, is matter of fact when he shares, “Happier people are more productive people.” Yup, let that sink in for a second. And you know
what productive people make more of... Moolah!
Nagaswami even goes on to add that a good giggle “exercises a whole of muscles”. And this doesn’t just mean positive vibes at home and work. “Enhanced levels of endorphins in the brain causes you to feel more energetic and alive,” he elaborates. In other words, you might actually enjoy hitting the gym more or hitting a zumba session. In other words, laughter has the potential to make you fitter — if that’s where you choose to invest your energy.
Psychiatrist Vijay Nagaswami tells us why laughter is the really the best therapy there is:
Everyone knows that laughter is good for you. But what effect does it have on our mental space?
Basically, laughter adds to one’s mental well-being by enhancing your mood. Generally, happier people are more productive people and tend to elicit happier responses from others in their environment, which in turn makes them feel even happier, thereby setting up a positive feedback loop.
Are there some specifics you can give us on the benefits of keeping good humour — like better energy levels or the like?
The more one laughs, the more one exercises a whole lot of muscles. All together, it enhances the levels of endorphins in the brain which causes one to feel more energetic and more alive.
Can taking oneself too seriously lead to poor health. If so, what are some red flags we can look out for in ourselves or family and friends?
Without a doubt, it can. If we allow our problems to overwhelm us, we find it difficult to figure out
strategies with which to deal with them. We experience anxiety and depression. I’m not suggesting we should be blasé about everything. But the capacity to laugh at oneself is a huge help in promoting positive health and well-being. If one sees someone looking and feeling over-burdened, experiencing fatiguability, and not being to have a good laugh even if occasionally, it’s a fair assumption that they need to take some help to restore their mental equilibrium.
Despite it’s core value for happier, healthier living, the reason most people switch on a Netflix comedy
special is often a quick escape. You forget your problems for a moment and just get to let loose. That’s why, “After people get a taste of their first live stand-up comedy show, they keep coming back,” says Vishwaraj Mohan, founder of the comedy club, Counter Culture, in Chennai.
But can there be such a thing as too many giggles?
Sanjay Manaktala has a quick-witted answer. “The more medicine you take, the less it works, right?” the Bengaluru-based comedian offers us some insight. What a good laugh really does, when you are feeling down, is help you ‘disconnect’ he reveals. So while it might not be as easy as ‘press play’ — there are other ways to do that, like a walk, a chat with a friend or even a change of temperature with a cold quick shower.
Although, we can’t promise the same health benefits, of course.
Why is laughter good for you?
Here is our favourite answer so far. “Because it’s free,” says Bengaluru-based actor and prankster, Danish Sait. Sadness, on the other hand, comes with baggage. And anybody who has travelled knows that excess baggage is not good — you’ve got to pay for it.
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