How many ways can you laugh?

There’s a belly laugh, a giggle and a chuckle. How about a cackle, a snicker or a snort? And when you were a kid, I bet there was even one kind of laughing called, “I laughed so hard soda came out my nose!”

Every kind of laugh has one thing in common. Somebody said something funny first. (Note: If, on the other hand, you just laugh out loud for no detectable reason, put this paper down right now and go get some help. We’ll wait.)

I laugh hardest at really stupid jokes – which is almost as weird. Try these:

  • A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, “I’ll serve you, but don’t start anything.”
  • An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.
  • Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says, “Dam!”
  • And, of course, my champ of the bad jokes…What did Batman say to Robin before he got in the car? “Get in the car.”

Believe it or not, laughing has got psychiatrists and scientists trying to study humor like a bug under a microscope. There are now five theories why people laugh. Or there are three. Or, according to Wikipedia, there are at least 17. Want to hear them all? Good. Me neither.

The funny thing about all those theories? None of them are funny, so I’ll give you my own theory: Stuff is funny when it’s funny… like when soda comes out your nose.

This week the Jamestown Gazette, in the spirit of comedy, invites you to enjoy some of the wackiness budding with springtime this year right here in the nation’s Capital of Comedy, from homegrown comics to America’s biggest names on stage, TV and clubs. Comedy has a way of drawing a community together.

Kate McKinnon, for example, the Saturday Night Live regular who also played the quirky Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (builder of spiffy proton packs in the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot) once said, “Comedy is a tool of togetherness. It’s a way of putting your arm around someone, pointing at something, and saying, ‘Isn’t it funny that we do that?’ It’s a way of reaching out.”

Political satire is a special kind of comedy with an intentional bite in it. Scottish political satirist, Rory Bremner, described it like this: “I think comedy and satire are a very important part of democracy, and it’s important we are able to laugh at the idiosyncrasies or the follies or vanities of people in power.”

I guess the message is that people who take themselves too seriously, just aren’t funny… especially if they are in charge.

So it’s time for all of us to limber up our funny bones, give our smile muscles a workout, and please make sure you’re not drinking soda next time I tell you a joke. I might not be able to move fast enough. But then that would be funny.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.