Monday, March 26, 2012

UW Memories

I once co-taught a class at the University of Washington with a senior doing her thesis on Laughter in Education, incorporating Laughter Yoga. As with all great experiences, it was both challenging and rewarding. I was in no denial that generally they were all there for the 2 easy credits. But still the magic happened.

It was nerve-wracking at first to introduce Laughter Yoga to college students, but I soon realized they were as scared of me as I was of them. For they quickly realized their 2 easy credits involved some stretching, i.e. “laughing for no reason”.

I fondly recall some of them (names changed to protect the innocent):

Donny – whose ease with Laughter Yoga was a pure joy and helped the others loosen up.

Stephen – who healed his childhood experiences of being constantly scolded in school for laughing and now loved the irony of receiving credit for it at a major university. Stephen had the most delightful innocent laugh.

Tim – who had done a bit of stand-up comedy, was quite open to Laughter Yoga, and gave me feedback I cherish: “It takes a special person to be able to command the type of respect needed for something as silly as laughing at the sound of vowels.”

The other Tim: who had actually researched Laughter Yoga before attending the class, was the only student who smiled at me while I was lecturing, and gave me the ego-stroking feedback: “Teresa Rocks”!!!

Mark – the deaf student who didn’t participate anywhere close to this degree in any of his other classes and brought me lots of laughs when he did.

Last but far from least Jennifer – symbolic of the whole reason anyone ever becomes a teacher: to witness a student transform.

Easy 2 credits aside, I could not fathom why this person signed up for this class for she was truly miserable at first. I’m sure she rarely laughed in life. She clearly expressed her incomprehension and almost disdain at the whole idea of Laughter Yoga, yet upon being told by my co-teacher that she had to try if she wanted to pass, made the most amazing transformation that left both of us teachers in tears by the end.

Some of her parting words on her final essay were: “I realized my life doesn’t have to have this or that in it to be happy, but everyone has the opportunity to laugh. I saw left and right these potentials to laugh. I started seeing all the times when I just mope around and don’t talk to people around me. I am not as afraid and have more confidence in myself and feel more connected to the world around me. It was like this great movement of energy outward instead of always keeping things in.”

Photo: Stock.xchnge

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Peter Ustinov

“Laughter has always seemed to me to be the most civilized music in the world.”

Peter Ustinov/actor/comedian

Photo: Wikimedia

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dashboard Buddha

The car in front of me sent me into peals of laughter as I spotted its dashboard Buddha swaying along back and forth on its springs of delight.

The car of my childhood, my father’s 1960s Dodge, sported that quintessential Catholic feature - a dashboard Jesus. So I got the joke immediately.

Robert DeNiro got himself in trouble the other day for using a bit of satire; that most explosive kind – racial, when he asked if we were ready for a white First Lady.

Humor is a tricky game.

You’ve got to know your audience; they’ve got to know you; and they’ve got to understand your intentions.

When I’m with people who don’t know me, they don’t always understand my humor. Sometimes nobody laughs and it all falls flat and God knows what they think of me. Just trying to loosen everyone up and have a few laughs.

DeNiro apologized and we all return to the boring world of political correctness, a real downer for humor.

But I definitely got it about the dashboard deity springing along down the road to a bit more fun in this world.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I follow a photo blog from Boston by an excellent photographer who calls himself “Clueless in Boston”. And for another added bit of fun, he has a Groucho quote beneath this heading. A quote I hijacked and put on my blog last year. But just that added bit of humor makes his blog just that added bit more fun and appealing.

All the other City Daily Blogs call themselves the usual stock titles: London Daily Photo, Paris Daily Photo, Perth Daily Photo, etc.

It takes a creative mind to be funny and it makes the world more interesting.

Daniel Pink, in his book The Whole New Mind, postulates that it’s this added bit of creativity that is the key to success in our emerging world.

Check out Clueless at

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Prisoners Laugh

More prisoners in India doing Laughter Yoga. Amazing!

Photo: Laughter Yoga International

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Opera Laughs

Even opera has humor woven into it, as a necessary balance to the high drama. Just as in life, laughter in opera affords us, the audience, a reprieve from the roller coaster ride of emotions, the highs and the lows of human feelings.

I adore opera. The music. The drama. The extravagant productions. The ecstasy of love. The bitterness of betrayal. The angst of separation and death. In short, the heights and depths of human emotions. Yet in the midst of it all, opera has its comedic moments, more of them than you might expect. For laughter is a deep human emotion.

When I brought friends to Seattle Opera’s production of Carmen, their first opera experience, they were surprised to learn it contained some humor. Often it’s the director’s creative ideas of adding some fun. Sometimes it’s the way the opera house translates the libretto onto the supertitles, with a clear intent to amuse. Other times it’s comedy that is written into the opera itself.

In Tales of Hoffman: Picture an extremely large diva swaying her girth slap- stick style to the music she’s belting out, flanked by two swaying male dancers, and you’ve got roll-on-the-floor laughter at the opera house.

The recent production of Orpheus and Eurydice had the female goddess Amour dressed in a whimsical outfit, riding a golden bicycle and adding some playful fun as balance to the wrenching emotions the tenor was singing.

An updated version of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutti was the ultimate, complete with cellphones, laptops, lattes, and the show-stopper, men half-clad in black leather, and half-naked in tattoos. Just hilarious! But with no disrespect to the music. Amadeus knew the value of laughter. He would have loved it! The rough translation of this opera is “Women are Like That” or as one opera lecturer put it “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”

Photo: Seattle Opera/Rosarii Lynch

Friday, March 9, 2012


“From the loss of a loved one to the loss of your hair, humor can help you cope with anything.”

Bill Dana and Peter Lawrence

Photo: Stock.xchnge

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chris Rock

Blue comedy aside (that’s the x-rated stuff I can’t publish here), I really like Chris Rock. His facial expressions, his excessive energy, his quick wit, his commentaries on life, his blatant raw honesty…

He’s like a wild animal on stage, eyes wide- open intensely alert, pacing back and forth with unrestrained raw energy and ready to pounce on the unspoken truth.

Chris Rock was voted 5th best comedian of all time by Comedy Central:

“Yeah, I love being famous. It’s almost like being white, y’know?”

“If a woman tells you she’s twenty and looks sixteen, she’s twelve. If she tells you she’s twenty-six and looks twenty-six, she’s damn near forty.”

“I had a cop pull me over the other day. Scared me so bad, made me think I stole my own car.”

“Even if you meet the perfect person, it ain't gonna be at the perfect time. You're married, they're single. You're Jewish, they're Palestinian. You're a Mexican, they're a raccoon...”

Photo: Wikimedia