The Best Medicine

LaughterWatching 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.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

2 comments… Add yours
  • The Laughing Pudding 10th January 2014

    Not an exceedingly good cake but an exceedingly good question. If we could trace back through human evolution perhaps we would find the answer. Related questions might include these:-
    Do other creatures laugh – like chimpanzees for example?
    What chemical and physiological changes occur when someone laughs? (Perhaps there are natural benefits that assist survival)
    Why would anyone ever laugh while watching “My Family” starring Robert Lindsay and Zoe Wanamaker? (It makes me feel like slashing my wrists!)

  • Jay from The Depp Effect 16th January 2014

    Ah… what an interesting question! Me, I have a dirty laugh, but I haven’t always had that. I used to have quite a discreet, ladylike chuckle, but what I think happened was that I stopped being bothered about what people thought about my sense of humour and allowed my laugh to develop.

    My own belief is that our laughs, like our facial expressions and our choice of swearwords (or lack thereof) is an indication of who we are. Perhaps those of a timid disposition have quiet, unobtrusive laughs, while the bolder souls laugh more loudly and (perhaps) longer. Perhaps the way we laugh is one of those ‘display’ things that we hear so much about in nature programmes!


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