By Dr Sima Patel
“My Dad always knew I was going to be a comedian. When I was a baby he said, ‘Is this a joke?’” – Sir Kenn Dodd
“So I was getting into my car, and this bloke says to me ‘Can you give me a lift?’ I said, Sure, you look great, the world’s your oyster, go for it.” Tommy Cooper
April Fools’ Day is a day to get enjoyment, fool around and have fun. Reflecting back to all the pranks that have been played over the years is in itself enough to make us laugh out loud. So how about starting just there for a warm up. Can you think of a time when someone played a great prank on you or vice versa? Does it still make you laugh out loud now?
There is an increasing amount of research on why humour is good for us including having physical and mental perks (better memory, lower stress and even a reduced risk for heart disease). So, why not use April as a catalyst to have more fun in your life and boost your well-being.
A group of people who have dedicated themselves to analysing how science-based activities and games that generate humour and improve health have discovered the following:
- On average, people tend to laugh 18 times a day. If you are not one of these people, could you set yourself the challenge of laughing at least 18 times in one day?
- People who have a sense of humour generally have good mental fitness.
- Having a penchant for dark humour (presenting distressing events such as death and disease with humour) has been associated with high intelligence. This can be seen at funerals for example when one moment people are sobbing with sadness and the next, laughing out loud as different memories are recalled.
- Processing puns requires both hemispheres of the brain to work so indulging in comedy such as The Treason Show can be good for us.
- Both sexes laugh a lot but females laugh 126 percent more than men. Anyone out there who wants to laugh more…
- Laughter in relationships declines dramatically with age. So set the challenge of aging gracefully with fun and laughter.
- A sense of humour improves health and enhances the chances of reaching retirement age.
- Laugher brings people together and the social interaction itself improves our well-being.
- Humour is really important in hospitals for both patients and staff. Research shows that humour in hospitals and care settings reduces tension, connects patients with staff and helps patients feel valued, allows patients and staff to distance themselves from difficult situations, reduces the indignity patients sometimes feel about themselves and reduces stress.
- Humour helps children and adults to learn.
- Great leaders use humour to foster better communication and enhance group cohesiveness.
- Humour is an essential element in romantic relationships. Those who reminisce about moments of shared laughter report more satisfaction in their relationships compared to those who recalled a positive moment.
- People who recall sharing a humorous moment when they first met report increased closeness.
Given all those benefits above, how could you increase your ability to laugh throughout the fun month of April? How about trying some of the following and seeing what happens to your laughter levels and well-being.
- Think of a thought first thing when you wake up and then turn that same thought into a funny one as though you were going to tell someone a funny story about that thought or situation or event.
- Spend time with people who make you laugh and vice versa.
- Watch children and young people having fun and follow their lead in seeing the humour in everyday things.
- Have a joke book in lots of rooms in the house and tell someone a joke from it at least twice a day.
- Listen to funny programmes on the radio / podcasts.
- Watch funny television programmes and films.
- Go to live comedy gigs.
So go ahead and play that prank throughout the month of April (you know you want to).
“Heard the one about two aerials meeting on a roof, falling in love, and getting married? The ceremony was rubbish but the reception was brilliant.”
– Tommy Cooper