A sold out crowd packed into the Laugh Factory on Sunset Blvd last night to celebrate the posthumous 73rd birthday of legendary comedian George Carlin. The evening which was hosted by former Carlin publicist Michael Levine and Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada featured comedians Tom Arnold, Paul Mooney, Paul Rodriguez, Judy Tenuta, Shawn Wayans and Jay Phillips among others. The evening was highlighted by the audience singing a loud round of "Happy Birthday".
Though many experts are skeptical of the results, quite a few studies suggest that laughter may be as beneficial as exercise. I’ve always heard that a good laugh is like doing some hard rowing…both are good for your abs. In a recent study released April 26, 2010, participants who watched a humorous 20-minute video clip showed decreased levels of the appetite-repressing hormone, leptin, afterwards, suggesting that repetitive laughter can affect hormones in the same way that exercise does.
Those who watched a violent video clip showed no statistically significant change in leptin levels. Although the physiology of laughter is not well understood, studies since the 1970s have shown that laughing can help reduce blood vessel constriction, boost immune function, and relieve stress. I even read a study that showed laughter improved the quality in breast milk! They say laughter is the best medicine, right?
Dr. Paul E. McGhee says “Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” Remember Jessica Rabbit from the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” I’ve always been able to relate to her (not because I look like her…I wish) because when people asked her why she would marry such a goofy guy she would answer “Because he makes me laugh.” I married a man who makes me laugh every day. Thank goodness too, because sometimes I think I take life a little too seriously. I found a really great checklist for lightening up at http://helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm
Want a good laugh? Check out the following articles for more good information on laughter and health:
How Humor Makes You Friendlier, Sexier – Seeing the bright side of life may strengthen the psyche, ease pain, and tighten social bonds. (Scientific American Mind)
Articles on Health and Humor – Psychologist and humor-training specialist Paul McGhee offers a series of articles on humor, laughter, and health. (Laughter Remedy)
How Laughter Works – Explains the physiology of laughter, as well as its physical and emotional benefits. (How Stuff Works)
What is Humor? – Discusses the relationship between humor and health and suggests ways to improve your sense of humor. (Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor)
Laughter is the "Best Medicine" for Your Heart – Describes a study that found that laughter helps prevent heart disease. (University of Maryland Medical Center)
Give Your Body a Boost -- With Laughter – Learn all about the physical health benefits of humor and laughter. (WebMD)
Laughter Therapy – Guide to the healing power of laughter, including the research supporting laughter therapy. (Cancer Treatment Centers of America)
The Benefits of Laughter – Article on the social benefits of laughter and the important role it plays in the relationships between people. (Psychology Today)
The Science of Laughter – Psychologist and laughter researcher Robert Provine, Ph.D., explains the power of laughter, humor, and play as social tools. (Psychology Today)
Humor in the Workplace – Series of articles on using humor in the workplace to reduce job stress, improve morale, boost productivity and creativity, and improve communication. (Laughter Remedy)