I have been fascinated by humor as long as I can remember. Maybe it was compensation for being a fat kid. How could I feel inadequate if I came up with fat jokes before my friends could think of them?
Because of the fear we’re all experiencing now, we think it’s wrong to laugh. The situation is dreadful, but do we have to let fear rule our lives? Let’s just laugh a little.
Scientists say that when we laugh, our bodies release endorphins and dopamine, nature’s feel-good chemicals. So, we cope with stress, find hope and look at problems in new ways by taking advantage of legal drugs that our own bodies manufacture.
So, despite a terrible situation—let’s just laugh a little, even at ourselves. We’re already doing funny stuff. We sell stock in our retirement funds which causes the market to drop, then buy it back when it costs more.
And, when we’re told to stay home to blunt the spread of the virus, we storm to the supermarket and empty the shelves of—food? No. Toilet paper.
I don’t want you to think I don’t take the coronavirus seriously. I do. I’m an old guy, and if I’m exposed to it, I’m in deep trouble because I’m more likely to get seriously sick than younger people might be.
Still, laughter can be useful in times like these.
TV personality Art Linkletter advised us to keep a sense of humor. It doesn’t mean you have to tell jokes. As he said, “If you can’t think of anything else, when you’re my age, take off your clothes and walk in front of a mirror. I guarantee you’ll get a laugh.”
Preposterous, you say. No more than singing the Happy Birthday song (twice) while you wash your hands, as we’re now being advised to do.
If it will keep me from getting the virus, I’ll sing anything the experts ask me to. It’s just one of the things we need to do to save ourselves from this pandemic.
But while we are doing what we need to do, there’s no harm in laughing or at least smiling a little. It lifts the burden for a moment and it can’t hurt us.
As the editor and novelist Edgar Watson Howe put it, “If you don’t learn to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you’re old.”
Contact Ted Blankenship at