Monday, September 28, 2009

Seattle International Comedy Competition

In it’s 30th year the Seattle International Comedy Competition is a great venue for adding more comedy to your life. It starts this year on Nov 4 and ends on Nov 29th and runs at various locations around Seattle. Basically it’s a month of comedy performances, in the form of competitions, until one final winner is chosen.

I discovered it two years ago, attended the semi-finals at Edmonds Center for the Arts, laughed for about 2 – 3 hours, left with a sore mouth and a belly full of laughter. Plenty of crude stuff, but the whole range of humor too. Some were doing the ethnic routine. One older man was doing a “seniors” routine. Something about leaving a glass around and someone will plop their teeth into it. Lots of young guys were doing the dating routine. A couple of teachers were doing the classroom routine, informing us they were educators by day, comedians by night.

At our venue it was down to 16 performers, each doing 5 minutes. The whole show began with a scruffy warm-up comedian, a veteran in the culture of comedy, and ended with an over-the-top seasoned performer. This last guy had me on that dangerous just-couldn’t-stop roll of laughter. He was “in the zone”. He had us so hooked, he could say anything and we would laugh. All this, while the judges did their judging. The evening ended with five finalists.

My all time favorite made it to the finals. He was one of those who you could just look at and laugh. Laughter was all over his face. Not the intellectual type, like Jerry Seinfeld. But the ever-ready to laugh type. I caught the spirit and everything he said left me in stitches.

This year I’m off to the event at the Kirkland Performance Center the day after Thanksgiving. Burn off the holiday calories in grand style! Hope to see you there.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Invigorating Laughter

Imagine laughing under a cold shower first thing in the morning! It’s the ultimate in invigorating.

I got the tip from another laughter leader. It’s a variation on Dr. Kitaria’s wise prescription to start the day with 2 minutes of hearty laughter. Some health experts advise finishing off your hot morning shower with a minute of cold water to improve circulation, among other things. Add laughter to the routine and you’ve got an over-the-top experience of waking up your joyful spirit! Full disclosure: I’m really only at about 30 seconds of cold water with laughter, but it’s a great beginning. I get the ecstatic jolt!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Autism, Laughter & Speeding TIckets

From medicine to clowning: Ron Jenkins was a pre-med student with the goal to become a child psychiatrist when he changed his course to comedy. Ode Magazine highlights Ron in an article about how laughter can set people free.

Ron’s turning point was when he was working with a child with autism who never spoke, except to repeat words spoken to him, and never made eye contact. Yet Ron’s comical, silly, joking gestures broke through a barrier. The child started looking into his eyes and began initiating words!

Laughter is the ultimate universal language. When you can’t get through to someone any other way, laughter paves a road to connection. We all respond to laughter.

I recall an incident of being pulled over on the road by a police officer for driving over the speed limit. It was a residential area unfamiliar to me, near a school. I was simply ignorant and didn’t see the reduce speed signs. The officer was being extremely condescending and disrespectful until I told him I was on the way to a chiropractor for a problem with my leg. Somehow this broke the ice, causing him to joke about my lead foot needing healing. The opportunity to make a joke caused him to lighten up. My ever-ready laughter only helped more. He let me off without a ticket and I forgave him his attitude. In the end we bonded over our little joke.

Photo: Stock.xchnge

Monday, September 7, 2009

Marriage needs Laughter

It is reported that with couples who have been married for more than seven years, the absence of laughter predicts the likelihood of divorce far more than the presence of outright animosity. In other words, the positive emotions of laughter are stronger in their effects than the negative emotions of disharmony.

So if you’re cruising along in a long-term relationship, in a day-to-day complacency, with a low level of passion, yet with no real discord, without the sounds of joyful laughter, that should be a BIG RED FLAG. Something crucial to a healthy relationship is missing.

Of all the issues we need to be aware of in relationships: honesty, integrity, spending enough time together, good communication, common values, I am pleased to see that creating consistent joy is an essential ingredient.

Far too often joy is not something we attend to. Priorities are work, responsibilities, family obligations; even vacations don’t always involve a lot of genuine joyfulness. It seems to be enough to just get away to another place. Being truly joyful in the experience isn’t always expected.

Laughter is the stuff of life, of really living life. It’s an important element in keeping the people we love, glued to us. Dacher Keltner, psychology professor at University of California, Berkeley, says “Our relationships are only as good as our histories of laughter together”.