Laughter-Truly the Best Medicine

My husband and I went to a comedy festival in Dallas last night and as I sit here with my cheeks still a little sore from all the laughter, my mind is set on this topic.

I remember the first career I ever wanted to pursue was to be a comedienne. I remember very vividly watching the Carol Burnett Show and thinking what a great thing it would be to make people laugh. I remember as I got older and had already started down the path of a surgical career watching the late night reruns of the Dean Martin Roasts. A few years ago for Christmas Jeff surprised me with a series of Johnny Carson Tonight Show episodes: I can watch them over and over and always laugh at the same things.  

I remember early Ellen DeGeneres stand up…she was always one of my favorites. What a gift to be able to stand in front of a group of strangers and make them laugh. I longed for this but was deterred by a few relatively minor matters:

Not funny enough and too shy.

No one believes that I am shy. My decision to become a surgeon necessitated that I project confidence. I don’t think anyone wants to negotiate reconstruction when the surgeon cannot make eye contact or carry a conversation. I do not think if you were able to select your cosmetic surgeon you would electively proceed on a surgical journey with someone meek and shy, even if they had the very best surgical skills and reputation. It is a game that I play with myself every day…act confident and people will believe that you are. I am confident in my surgical skills and do believe I have a talent for this path I have chosen. But sadly that doesn’t translate to the capacity to successfully perform stand up comedy.

The funniest comedians in my opinion are the intelligent ones. The capacity to relate current or historical events in a humorous manner is a gift. Robin Williams, George Carlin, Dennis Miller are or were some of the greats because of quick wit and great intelligence. Eddie Izzard is one of my favorites for the same reasons. There are so many as I sit here thinking about it…too many to list.

Jimmy Fallon…there’s a brilliant one: so much talent, so funny, great wit. I have often said that one day I wish to do something sufficiently important that I am offered a trip to the White House for acknowledgement. Sorry for the political sideline but I have no interest whatsoever in an audience with our current President so I will use my opportunity to secure tickets to the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon instead. I’m still working on my great bravery or humanitarian event to pull this off and will welcome any suggestions.

I have a naughty streak…this is not a surprise to anyone. Suffice it to say I am my mother’s daughter and that is one thing of which I am most proud. One of my most favorite funny ladies out there right now is Amy Schumer. She is predominately the reason we went to this festival last night. I watch her show, loved her movie and laughed so much last night that my girl crush has ascended to all new levels. Having said that, and with a capacity for profanity that I can control but don’t always chose to, smart and improvisational humor is far more sophisticated than tacky cheap shots and dirty jokes any day.

The thing about laughing and making people laugh is that laughter is a physical manifestation of happiness. There have been times in my life that I was so sad, depressed…my spirit broken. Everyone in this world has had those times. When I lost my mother I grieved so deeply and for so long that the idea of laughter was completely foreign to me. I remember feeling guilty if I laughed because that would mean I was happy and how can you be happy when you’re devastated? My mother was the funniest person I have ever known. A life without laughter would have been completely foreign to her and she would have never stood for it. Laughter is effectively raising a glass to her spirit…when I was able to laugh again I know she was sitting on the edge of a cloud smiling down on me, relieved that I had found it again.

The ebbs and flows of life sometimes crush your spirit. It might not always make a lot of sense financially to make a pilgrimage to a comedy festival. But then you get there and for about 5 hours you laugh SO MUCH that your face still hurts a little the next morning. And you forget your worries and cares for just a little bit. That is medicine that the best doctor could not provide.

‘There is a purifying power in laughter. It is truth in palatable form. It is instant vacation. Seeing the comical side of many situations makes life a great deal easier. It's like riding through life on sensitive springs that ease every jolt.’ ~Eugene P. Bertin, 1968

I wish you laughter on this day and every day.

Here’s up to it!


Emily Mclaughlin3 Comments