Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Fish pie smiley face

I've long harboured a secret fantasy of making a career in Hollywood on laugh tracks but I haven't pursued it because very few programmes with laugh tracks are actually funny to me. I'm more likely to laugh at my own typos. I laugh at my ridiculous fluorescent safety gear every time I ride my bike.

My loud, apparently infectious, often inappropriate, laugh has always gotten me in trouble. I've been told off at school, at work, at the movies, at home, pretty much anywhere I've started laughing. Once I infamously made a whole theatre laugh against their will, through the second half of Ghost, because I thought it was so cheesy.

But I have finally found my funny place at Laughter Club. Laughter yoga, as its also known, is all about laughing for the sake of laughing. There are no cynical stand-up comedians, no cool irony, no nasty sarcasm, no tedious in jokes or cringe-making mocking.

In fact there is nothing cool about Laughter Club. Rather, with a combination of clapping chants, playful movement and vocalised breathing laughter yoga starts out as fake laughter that quickly morphs into infectious, irresistible real laughter. Apparently it doesn't matter that some of the laughing is forced, because our bodies can't tell the difference between real and fake laughter. Both lower stress and blood pressure, raise endorphins, energy, oxygen and immunity. It really is all good.

Apparently children laugh 3-400 times a day but by the time we are adults we are lucky to laugh 10-15 times a day. Most of what is making us laugh in Laughter Club is the same kind of silliness that makes children laugh so easily. We made silly faces and silly noises, played silly games, made up silly affirmations. As well as being silly it's very positive: lots of cheering, applauding and expressions of delight in ourselves and eachother. It's not cool at all, but it works.

Two days after my first Laughter Club session my sides are still aching as though I'd done two hundred sit ups instead of laughing out loud for most of an hour. I'm still smiling and laughing spontaneously at the memories of Laughter Club. I can't wait to for next week's session. If I was in Mumbai I'd go every morning. In Hamilton its once a week at the YWCA, Wednesday 7-8pm, $3 entry. All welcome "for the purpose of health, exercise, anxiety relief and fun. No registration, just turn up." Inquiries to Claire Jensen 027 626 2028.


Rex Parker said...

Oh God, I remember going to a very serious play with you once, and getting the giggles through pretty much most of it.

That's not about yoga at all.

Oh, and I'm signed in as Rex Parker, but this is Penelope, and getting out and signing back in again is just too much for me right now.

Meliors Simms said...

i can't even imagine why you are pretending to be Rex Parker, but its making me snigger...

Sandy said...

If I'm signed in, it is usually as Sandy Davenport. These are the "beach names" we once gave ourselves on a high-living vacation in Hawaii. Now lots of people know us as Rex and Sandy. It's only slightly weird, right?

Anything to make you laugh some more.


Kay said...

I work at a childcare centre and get to laugh with the kids every day - therefore I count myself as one of the lucky ones! :)

Lou said...

I think I may have inherited your laugh. The loud cackley part anyway...