Laughter on the menu

Feed Yourself Some Comedy
by Dori Gillam

What do you do on grey days to lift your mood and attitude? Are chocolate or cookies calling to you? Rather than opening the refrigerator to consume empty calories, try feeding yourself some comedy.

Some people save favorite recipes; you can create a file of comedy favorites for a diet of sure-fire fun. And just like eating good food keeps us healthy, the science is clear: laughter is good medicine. It relieves stress, reduces blood pressure, and is a natural pain reliever. Did you know that the two universal, automatic responses to something we find funny are: doubling over at the waist (that’s why it’s called a belly laugh); and slapping the table or one’s knees (“a real knee-slapper.”) If you haven’t done either in a while, you’re overdue.

Here are three steps to assure you’ll always have a daily diet of healthy humor.

1. Know what makes you laugh. What, or who, makes you double over, or at least grin? If you aren’t sure, take this online quiz to find out what comedy style you fall into.

2. Create a comedy cache. Save links from funny YouTube videos in a favorites file. Build a list of movies, TV shows, and Comedy Central specials that make you laugh. Check out books of limericks or puns from the library and rediscover comedy writers like Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry.

3. Begin your diet now. Plan episodes of absurdity by carving out time every day. I start my day with a full plate of farce for 30 minutes, which sets my mood. In the evening, I erase the day’s troubles by spending another 1/2 hour on a fat-free dessert of hilarity.

My dad used to say, “If you can laugh through it, you can live through it.” And I’ve never heard anyone say they wish they’d spent less time laughing.

More resources for a quick pick-me-up

Tried and true TV Shows: look for them on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or YouTube. Golden Girls, Will and Grace, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Blackish, Ellen DeGeneres, Fresh Off The Boat, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Steve Harvey, Life in Pieces, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Designing Women.

Funny movies and series: can be found on cable TV, Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. Grumpy Old Men, Grumpier Old Men, The Incredibles, A Night at the Opera, Toy Story, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Bringing Up Baby, About a Boy, Some Like It Hot, Schitt’s Creek, The Good Place, Grace and Frankie, Letters to Juliet, The Bucket List, Calendar Girls, Something’s Gotta Give, Father of the Bride, Cheaper by the Dozen, Father of the Bride II, Three Men and a Baby, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, The Housesitter.

Instagram: thedailykitten, #funnydogstuff, #goatsofinstagram, #funnyparrots, #The Far Side

Newer comedians to check out: Amber Ruffin, Jim Gaffigan, Aziz Ansari

Don’t forget to pick up the phone: Do you have a good friend that makes you laugh? Then make a point to be in touch with them more often. Does reminiscing with a sibling over childhood capers tickle you? Give them a call. Friends and family are often the best medicine.

Dori Gillam is NWCCA Board President, Humanities Washington speaker, author, and Wisdom Café facilitator.