There is Value in Laughing WITH – and Even Value in Laughing AT
Laughter is a Good and Necessary Thing
Those of a certain age will recall when they likely saw the words in the title of this posting. Laughter is the Best Medicine has been a section of Readers Digest (remember that thing?) for many decades. And they were exactly right. Science, medicine, sociology all have ample evidence that laughter is important to us, individually and socially. There are even laughter coaches and laughter yogis out there.
It certainly is important to me, to laugh and especially to hear others laugh. I have always said the sound of my wife laughing is the music of my life . No overstatement, that one.
I recently experienced two very different laugh environments that, as different as they were, left me (and I think pretty well everyone else involved) feeling much better for the experience. They were dramatically different events, but both worked beautifully.
Laugh WITH Us
Friends on Facebook already know that after a two year absence via Zoom, we returned this month to live performances of the National Storytelling Festival. It is unlike anything else we have experienced, and we love it (I know that many of you do, too).
For three days and nights, about 10,000 people converge on a little town in Tennessee for world-class story telling. Tents holding between 1,000 and 200 people are set up and schedules posted, telling who is telling stories where and when. Go where you want to go, stay as long as you wish. I have never seen anyone leave a story telling session early – this is spell binding stuff in every sense.
In the early days, these were mostly Appalachian story tellers. That is still the core, but now there are story tellers from all over the country and from several other countries. Some stories are serious or sad, but most are funny. All are thought provoking and memory inducing. For those three days, people who likely would disagree mightily on political, religious, or philosophical grounds put all that aside to enjoy very human and widely shared (or at least enjoyed) stories.
It is a magic, healing thing to walk down main street and hear thousands of people share a laugh and one bonding experience after another. We have our favorites and every year we add new names to the favorites list.
The bottom line is that we all shared some good laughs and found some common ground. How rare is that. Check it out yourself on their website and samples on YouTube. It is the first weekend in October. Now you know about it – start planning for next year. This is the largest scale version of “Let’s all laugh with each other” imaginable. Treat yourself – trust me, you need this. If in doubt, come for one day. The next year you will be back for the whole thing.
Laugh AT – Laugh at Them – and Ourselves
A few days after the Storytelling Festival, we attended a performance of The Book of Moron (yeah, Moron, not Mormon). This was a one man show, cast in the model of Mort Saul and George Carlin, of Lily Tomlin and Mark Twain, with a touch of Ricky Gervais, Steven Wright, and Robin Williams as well.
Great stuff. Cutting edge funny. Written and performed by Robert Dubac, a fellow with impressive comedy, acting, writing, and directing chops. Very much recommended to catch when you have the chance.
What was different here was that the performer frequently poked fun at folks and groups that, as luck would have it, I also found worthy of scorn and laughter. Not mean spirited really, just pointing out what needed to be said, out loud.
But he also took good time in poking fun at “our side” and pretty well everyone in between. It was a time to acknowledge our own foibles, shortfalls, and oddities. All was done with enough mirth and wit that pretty well all of us laughed all night, at others and at ourselves.
A performance well done. It was fun to laugh at people we more often shout at and worry about. Oh, and it was not a bad thing to laugh at ourselves as well. Good stuff. Check him out when you can.
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