Is Laughter The Best Medicine?

A man and his ever-nagging wife took a vacation to Jerusalem. While they were there, the wife died. The undertaker told the husband, “You can have her buried here in the Holy Land for only $150, or we can ship her body back to the States for $5,000.”

The husband thought about the options, but concluded he’d have her shipped back home. The surprised undertaker said, “Why would you spend $5,000 just to transport her back home when you can have a nice burial here for only $150?”

The husband replied, “Long ago, a man died here in Jerusalem, and He was buried here. Three days later, He rose from the dead. I just can’t take that chance.”

 

I didn’t laugh out loud when I read that story, but I did crack a big smile. And I smile or laugh far too infrequently. As a melancholy, depression-prone guy, I take life too seriously at times and falsely conclude that there isn’t a lot to laugh about. In recent years, though, I’ve increasingly wielded the weapon of humor as one of the strategies for dealing with despondency. Even if the feeling is temporary, it just feels good to laugh. I’ll fight for my joy anywhere, even on the comic pages.

It turns out that there is solid research supporting the value of humor in enhancing mood. According to the staff of the Mayo Clinic, “Laughter  actually induces physical changes in your body. It enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain, some of which control mood. It can increase, then decrease, your heart rate and blood pressure, resulting an a good, relaxed feeling.”

From a separate article titled, “Help for Depression: Laugh To Activate Happy Feelings!,” from Laughter Online University, I hoisted this remark: “Laughter can be of great help with depression because it causes the body to release into the bloodstream high concentrations of different hormones and neuropeptides related to feelings of happiness, bonding, tolerance, generosity, compassion, and unconditional love. Let’s call this a joy cocktail.” This research-based article also claims, “Positive emotions trigger neurochemical changes that reduce the immunosuppressive effects of stress.”

Seems to me that the research bolsters Proverbs 17:22: “A joyful heart is a good medicine.”

But the research itself isn’t funny. Let’s shift to additional stories or humorous lines in an effort to make you laugh.

 

Church or Christian Humor

The pastor’s six-year-old boy, nestled in his dad’s lap on a Sunday afternoon, said, “Daddy, when you first go out to preach every Sunday, I see you sit there and bow your head. What are you doing that for?”

“I’m asking the Lord to give me a good sermon,” his father answered.

Then the boy said, “Why don’t He?!”

*****

Can you identify with the following prayer?

“Dear God, so far today I’ve done all right as Your child. I haven’t  lied to anyone, gossiped about anyone, or besmirched anyone’s reputation. I haven’t lost my temper. I haven’t cheated anyone out of money, or stared with lust at a beautiful woman. I haven’t been grumpy or hard to get along with or selfish, and I’m really glad about that.

“But in a couple minutes, Lord, I’m going to get out of bed, and from then on, I’m going to need all the help I can get! Amen.”

*****

Early in his evangelistic ministry, Billy Graham was in a South Carolina city, and needed to mail a letter. He strolled down main street, looking for the post office. Not seeing it, he finally stopped a boy and asked for directions to the post office. After getting the location, Billy told the boy, “If you come to the big Baptist church down the street tonight, I will tell you how to get to heaven!”

“No thanks,” said the boy. “You don’t even know how to get to the post office!”

*****

Have you ever read the church bulletin and noticed a unique relationship between the sermon title and closing hymn? Here are a few of my favorites.

Sermon: “The Sin of Gossip”
Closing hymn: “I Love To Tell The Story”

Sermon: “Predestination and Hell”
Closing Hymn: “I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go”

Sermon: “The Role of Women in the Church”
Closing Hymn: “Rise Up, O Men of God”

Sermon: “Social Issues Series: Euthanasia”
Closing Hymn: “Take My Life and Let It Be”

Then there is the wording in a church bulletin that could have cost the secretary her job. Referring to the pastor’s recent vacation, she said, “During the absence of our pastor, we had the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J. F. Stubbs filled our pulpit.”

A most unfortunate theological mistake was on a huge church sign near the highway in front of the sanctuary. The pastor had been very sick, but was out of the hospital and recovering well. The sign read: GOD IS GOOD. DR HARGRAVES IS BETTER!

 

Disorder in the Court!

Have you ever wondered where all the lawyer jokes originated? Perhaps it was from things they’ve said during court proceedings. These were gleaned from actual court transcripts. A few of these humorous remarks were made by the person testifying, not the lawyer. (I’ve changed the actual names from the transcripts.)

Q: Mrs. Roberts, how was your first marriage terminated?
A: By death.
Q: And by whose death was it terminated?

Q: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
A: All of my autopsies have been on dead people.

Q: What happened then?
A: He told me, he says, “I have to kill you because you can identify me.”
Q: Did he kill you?

Q: At the time you first saw Dr. Williams, had you ever seen him prior to that time?

Q: I understand that you are Bill Rader’s mother.
A: Yes.
Q: How long have you known him?

Q: What is your name?
A: Emily Smith.
Q: And what is your marital status?
A: Fair.

Q: I’m going to show you State’s Exhibit No. 2 and ask if you recognize the man in the picture.
A: John Jordan.
Q: That’s you, right?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And were you present when the picture was taken?*

My favorite court-related story is titled “When Grandma Goes To Court.” (The story is supposedly true and came from a newspaper. In case it is, I’ve again changed the names.)

In the deep south, a small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, an elderly grandmother who had lived in the town her whole life. He approached her and asked, “Mrs. Rabon, do you know me?”

She responded, “Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Beatty. I’ve known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a big shot, when you haven’t the brains to realize you’ll never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.”

The attorney was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Rabon, do you know the defense attorney?”

She again replied, “Why yes, I do. I’ve known Mr. Beamer since he was a youngster, too. He’s lazy, bigoted, and has a drinking problem. He can’t build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife! Yes, I know him.”

In shock, the defense attorney felt like crawling under a table.

Suddenly the judge asked both lawyers to approach the bench. In a very quiet voice, he said, “If either of you idiots asks if she knows me, I’ll send you both to the electric chair!”

 

Aging

Two seniors were sitting on a park bench. Fred said to Bob, “These days, when I don’t feel like myself, it’s a big improvement!”

How can you tell when you are getting old?

*Your back goes out more than you do.

*You turn down the lights for economic reasons rather than romantic ones.

*You sit in a rocking chair, and can’t make it go.

*You get winded playing chess.

*You reach down to pick something off the floor, and start thinking, “What else can I do while I am down here?” (This was formerly a joke I told.)

*You get out of the shower, and you are glad the mirror is all fogged up.

*Your mind wanders, and it doesn’t come back.

 

Actual Tombstone Epitaphs

Ma loved Pa. Pa loved women.
Ma caught Pa with one in swimming.
Here lies Pa.

When your razor is dull, but you need a shave,
think of the man who lies in this grave.

Here lies John Yeast.
“Pardon me for not rising.”

Beneath this stone, a lump of clay, lies Arabella Young,
who on the 21st of May, finally held her tongue.

I put my wife beneath this stone,
for her repose, and for my own.

Henry Smith (1903-1942)
He looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the way down. It was.

*****

To assist you in your quest to laugh, get copies of books written years ago by Richard Lederer, a series citing accidental assaults on language that began with Anguished English. Or get copies of the old but still funny series by Jay Leno, beginning with Ridiculous But True Headlines. I also enjoyed The 776 Stupidest Things Ever Said. Better yet, get the hardback anthologies containing all the cartoons ever published from The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes comic strips.

My all time favorite Far Side cartoon showed a caveman and his little boy in a cave. They both wore animal skin clothes, and looked every bit like ancient cavemen. The boy is holding up a stone tablet to show his dad, and there’s a gloomy look on the boy’s face. The father looks angry, and says, “Ugh! You failed history, and it not even happened yet!”

If nothing else works, look in the mirror. I’m told that the person who learns to laugh at himself will never cease to be entertained.

 

*Richard Lederer’s Anguished English provided the excerpts from court transcripts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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