Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine

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.

If you find this blog worthy of your time and curiosity, I invite you to do three things:

(1) Join the conversation. Your voice counts here. If you wish to share COMMENTS anonymously, make the last word in your comment “PRIVATE.” I will assure your privacy via anonymity.

(2) Share the word about this post with friends and colleagues. Share a link in your emails and social media posts (

(3) You are welcome to share this post with anyone. It is easy to pass on via email, of course, but also on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, or Reddit; simply click on the links for these services at the end of this article.

Let’s grow our circle.

3 replies to Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine

  1. Jeanne and I have loved the National Storytelling Festival for probably 15 years or so. We would plan trips and vacations around the dates and even traveled from Vermont while we were living there. The Festival is a national treasure. This summer and fall we have been making the trip over the beautiful mountains on many Wednesdays for their small intimate concerts with tellers in residence in their nice auditorium, That has been a special treat and we still have a few more weeks to go. This year we also decided to try the video festival and are awaiting the start of that in a few weeks. It will be nice to watch from the comfort of our own living room chairs with snacks and a bathroom close at hand. We are also so lucky here at Deerfield to have had a great line up of storytellers (Michael Reno Harrell and Bil Lepp for instance) right in our own Blue Ridge Room and we have Tim Lowery and Donald Davis to look forward to in the coming months. Laughter is a wonderful tonic especially in these times we are living in and stories that make us laugh and cry and remember are truly wonderful.

    • Right you are about the other, smaller gatherings the Storytelling Center provides. Also excellent. On doing the festival electronically, we did so for 2 years during the pandemic high season. Obviously, not quite the same level of human connection, but not bad at all and well worth doing. Hope you both enjoy it.

  2. And this year they are doing it differently by editing together tellers for different tents and not just the library tent. We will see. I have gotten spoiled by my wonderful stressless chair compared to those hard plastic folding chairs and narrow aisles in person.

Your Turn to Comment