Watching programmes on the Discovery Channel and BBC4 I’m often struck by my own ignorance of all the things I didn’t know I didn’t know across a range of subjects, but I reckon I’ve come up with a question that Google, Brian Cox and even Stephen Fry couldn’t answer:
Where do we get our laughter from?
I should be clear that my question isn’t why do we laugh. That’s something I happily leave to the gelotologists, although it is a branch science still in its infancy since even they aren’t entirely sure what the answer to that one is.
Nor do I mean the various types of laugh we use in different situations – the suppressed chuckle when we see someone come a cropper on a banana skins, the nervous titter or maniacal cackle or even the hollow laughter reserved for a politician’s promises.
I refer to the ordinary common or garden laugh that bursts out of us when we hear a good joke or are watching Mrs Brown’s Boys on tv because each and everyone of us laughs differently.
Actually, that’s not strictly true. What we have are different categories of laughter from the girlie giggle to the roared guffaw. In between there is the snorter, the giggler, the dirty laugher, the ho-ho-ho and tee-hee-hee-ers. We’re all differently, but where do we get the laugh we’re landed with?
Is it an inherited giggle gene? Is it planted at an early age like your accent? Are we governed by the physiology of our larynx, lung, nose and funny bone? No-one can answer the question as far as I can ascertain and you’d think there would be a PhD in it for someone, or even a Nobel Prize.
The nearest I could find to expanding our knowledge of ourselves as a species is that renowned centre of scientific endeavour, Lambrini, as reported in the Daily Mail, but even their giant intellect can answer my question, can you?
Answers on a postcard please, or via the comment form below. To get you in the mood, here is Charles Jolly with the Laughing Policeman.