When was the last time you had a real lung busting, heart stopping, convulsion inducing laugh? One of those laughs where you started wondering if you were ever going to breathe properly again? Recently I started tickling my family at unexpected times, adding yet another horror to the ever growing list of things my nearest and dearest have to endure while sharing a living space with me.
But it warms my heart to hear them laugh until they start squealing, “Stop! Stop! I can’t breathe!” Mind you, when old Auntie May said that, she really wasn’t kidding; and the ambulance officers weren’t very impressed with me either.
I like a laugh, and enjoy making others laugh. Historically there has always been someone who has tried to bring a little joy into the world. Eons ago, while other cavemen were out scrounging for food, and trying to avoid becoming dinosaur toe-jam, I’ll bet that deep in his cave somewhere was a Neanderthal comic, sitting alone in the darkness practicing his routine: “Knock Knock!” Who there? “Zatta.” Zatta who? “Zatta mammoth tusk in loin cloth or you glad to see me!” He was obviously one very deluded caveman; doors hadn’t even been invented.
Much later, as the sodden Celts gathered on Britains’ rainy shores, glumly watching boatloads of heavily armed Romans arriving for a lengthy holiday; I reckon some stand-up druid would have blurted out, “Well, there goes the neighbourhood!” Which would have given everyone a few laughs before they were slaughtered.
Or possibly some Aztec wit could have said to the High Priest at the sacrificial ceremony, “Aww, c’mon mate, have a heart! Boom! Boom!”
And maybe Ned Kelly’s last words weren’t, “Such is life.” Perhaps he was halfway through the classic joke, “Take my wife,” and, before he could slip out the time honoured punch line: “Please!” the lever was suddenly pulled. We’ll never know now.
Laughter is actually quite good for you. Laugh, and the world laughs with you, and laughter shared is a delight, which is the reason I write these columns. Recently, I spent several hours hammering out what I thought was a pretty funny piece, and I asked a mate for his opinion, chiefly, did it make him laugh.
“Laugh?!” he replied after much thought, “Yeah…, I almost did.”
So I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe.