Over my entire life, I have always been one of the best joke-tellers, the funniest joke-teller, I’ve ever known. My ability to come up with the ideal joke at the right time and place is second to none. It is true that along the way, I’ve had to endure some taunts from others whose sense of humor isn’t apparently as keen as mine (or sadly don’t possess the ability to appreciate good humor), but those happenings have hardly dampened my enthusiasm for bringing joy, deep insights and laughter into the lives of others around me. The predicate that laughter is the best of medicines has been the driving force behind my incessant, never-ending desire to observe smiles, followed by hearty guffaws, among those who are fortunate enough to be close enough to me to be able to hear my hilarious jokes. At least one person has said that my jokes are delivered in a manner somewhat akin to the styles of Johnny Carson, Red Skelton, Chris Rock, Robin Williams and Ray Romano as if I was the only person on earth to possess the ability and talent to take the very best of each and meld these attributes together to form me. That the person who said that was me is irrelevant, because as we all know, it is the thought that counts, not who said it.
But today, this blog is about the subject of laughter. Today, I found out for the first time that laughter can be damaging to health. A study appears this week in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal). Today’s New York Times reports that the BMJ study finds “The force of laughing can dislocate jaws, prompt asthma attacks, cause headaches, make hernias protrude. It can provoke cardiac arrhythmia, syncope or even emphysema (this last, according to a clinical lecturer in 1892). Laughter can trigger the rare but possibly grievous Pilgaard-Dahl and Boerhaave’s syndromes. And ponder, briefly, the mortifying impact of sustained laughter on the urinary tract (detailed in a 1982 The Lancet paper entitled “Giggle Incontinence”). The authors of the study go on to say, “We don’t know how much laughter is safe, . . . There’s probably a U-shaped curve: laughter is good for you, but enormous amounts are bad, perhaps. It’s not a problem in England.” From my personal experience, it apparently is not a problem for those around me either.
But the thought of someone wetting their pants because of one of my jokes makes me laugh. I hope I don't get Pilgaarde-Dahl syndrome.
Just saying . . .