Now, on to today's pop-philosophy--in honor of each of you.
Laughing out loud is the most wonderful thing in the world. It's infectious, you know. Really. A 2006 article from the Journal of Neuroscience discussed how, when a person hears laughter, it activates an area of the brain that actually makes that person (hearing the laughter) happier. Amazing! I think it's why I'm addicted to comedy, having been a stand-up comedian myself while still living in Boston. The first time I stepped on stage, I felt a tremendous high AFTER the audience started laughing. Before they started laughing, I was nervous. Terrified might be a better descriptive. The high wasn't because people were laughing at my jokes (though that was certainly lovely), it was because hearing their laughter made me feel...well, happier.
At the time, my life was not very good--there was a disproportionate "badness" that permeated the very thread holding together the fabric of my existence. Awful stuff. And one day, very suddenly, I woke up and decided I wanted to do stand-up, perhaps in effort to finally "stand up" to all that badness. I wanted to laugh out loud, helping other people do the same.
It was a Monday; I made a call, and got myself on the list for my first open mic night--that very night. Before work, while getting ready, I jotted down a brief routine. The day manager at Nick's Comedy Stop told me on the phone that I only had about three minutes on stage. I arranged for a sitter, and after a long day at work, I went home, made dinner, cleaned up, gave my son a bath, and bundled him up to go to the sitter's. By 8:00pm, I was waiting in the back of the darkened comedy club with some of the funniest people I still know, comedians like Dominic Fig, the vampire-comedian (see, I knew vampires long before I started writing criticism about them), Paul Kravitz, and a name everyone will recognize, Dane Cook. There was only one other woman there--all the other comedians were male. I struck up a friendship with the whole group. They knew it was my first time, and unlike other entertainment venues, where competition is ridiculously steep, these people were more like a family--helping each other with their routines, being supportive, and when one of us was hired as a headliner, taking the rest of us along for the ride.
It was an incredible night. I got on stage and used my signature self-depracating humor that students in college classrooms enjoyed for 15 years. I couldn't believe how quickly three minutes flew by, then four, then five, then Billy, the headliner that night, had to practically drag me off the stage.
When I'm dying one day, that memory, the memory of my first time on stage at Nick's, will be one of the memories that will sustain me before the end.
I think everyone should try being a stand-up comedian at least once in their lives--because, though it's certainly a daunting task, there is nothing that can compare to making people laugh out loud. You're at the top of the karma chain when you do it. Because when you make someone laugh out loud, you're not only making that person happy, but anyone within earshot will feel happier, too. And that, as my grandmother would say, is a real mitzvah!
Though my life has been peppered by severe difficulties like multiple malignant brain tumors, melanoma, loss of mobility, and a plethora of other serious health issues, I've never stopped laughing out loud, or trying to get others to do so...and I never will.
So on your continuing journey through life, make sure you laugh out loud as often as possible--anyone who hears you do so will become happier--and it's not hearsay, it's science!
Until next time, dearest readers....