Laughter is the best medicine

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mouse is standing outside his house, having just pulled a gun on a cat, who is depicted with one paw raised in mock submission. “Six rounds. Nine lives, you do the math,” says the cat.

I’ll never understand why some people like to watch horror movies. They want to be scared. Not me. Life is too short. I want to enjoy life and laugh as much as possible.

And when I laugh it’s not a little chuckle or giggle. I don’t snicker, snort or cackle. I come out with a loud belly laugh, which has gotten me in trouble more than once.

Before my teenage years I would watch KPLR Channel 11 out of St. Louis almost every Saturday afternoon. The lineup included the Three Stooges, The Bowery Boys and, my favorite, Abbott and Costello. It just so happens that in that same time slot was my mother’s nap.

That would not be a problem in most homes today — the average home has 2.3 TVs plus most children now have their own smart phone, tablet or computer.

With wifi and streaming video a kid can watch what they are interested in anywhere they want. Not so with me. I, like most people my age, grew up in a home with one TV, a 25” RCA. The set was located in the family room, directly below my parent’s bedroom where mother laid down for her rest.

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello  are considered the most popular comedy team of the 1940s and early 1950s and when I watched them in the early 1970s I couldn’t keep quiet. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that they didn’t write their famous routine Who’s on First. No one knows who did. Sadly, Costello died March 3, 1959, from a heart attack.

Saturday mornings were also full of humor courtesy of Loony Tunes — Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, The Road Runner, and my favorite, Fog Horn Leg Horn. I was able to listen to “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” Mel Blanc at Jesse Hall in Columbia when I was in college. 

When we were in the car traveling on a Saturday the radio station was tuned to Jack Carney and the Saturday Morning Comedy Show on KMOX. 

Another of my favorites as I was growing up was Red Skelton. 

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“All men make mistakes, but married men find out about them sooner.” — Red Skelton

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I could go on and on listing those who made me laugh as I grew up, but this column is not long enough,

I’ll be honest with you, I subscribe to the Reader’s Digest for the jokes. The stories are good too, but it’s the jokes I turn to first.

In this September’s issue the cover story is “Laugh Yourself Smarter, How Humor Builds Brains.” Imagine that. The article references a study from the University of New Mexico of 400 college students,. It found that those who scored highest on intelligence tests also scored high on humor ability.

I don’t know what my IQ is, but I know I would score high on any humor test.

Researching more about laughter on www.helpguide.org here are more benefits of laughter:

Laughter relaxes the whole body.

Laughter boosts the immune system. 

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.

Laughter protects the heart. 

Laughter burns calories. 

Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load.

Laughter may even help you to live longer. 

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“Helvetica and Times New Roman walk into a bar. Get out of here shouts the bartender. We don’t serve your type.”

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Today we don’t have to wait until Saturdays for a good laugh. In the car I can listen to comedy on three different channels on Sirius radio anytime.

At home Netflix comes to the rescue with two of my all time favorite comedies — Cheers and Friends. On another streaming service, Roku, I can watch 3rd Rock from the Sun. On DVD I have a couple of seasons of Sinefeld and 11 seasons of the Big Bang Theory.

So every night before I lay me down to sleep I watch one or more of the above shows. It clears my mind of any concerns from the day and helps me relax. 

It’s just not a good day without a big belly laugh before bedtime.

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