May 2, 2012

Jokes or joke-telling has likely been around since the day humankind could first speak a coherent sentence! And even before then, jokes in the version of pantomime or physical tricks/play no doubt existed.

Joking is a version of play, which all mammals do. Play keeps relevant tissues supple and tuned-up (as can be demonstrated by a dog playing fetch or a cat batting at a toy mouse). With this in mind, it could be debated that verbal or written jokes are one of the human brain's methods for staying supple. A good comedian needs to be intelligent-come on, how many original and great jokes have you heard from people with IQs less than the national average? Comedy also requires wit and timing, both which require smarts. So with all this in mind, perhaps joke-telling is indeed the human brain's way of staying fit.

Having a good sense of humor can also elevate one's social standing. A good sense of humor can make a fair-looking person much more attractive to the opposite gender (think about it-how often do you see humor being high on a person's potential-mate checklist?), and a funny girl or guy tends to be a much more popular, valued person amongst a group of friends. A funny person can connect people in a common way-who amongst you hasn't laughed harder at jokes that ring true for your personal struggles and daily actions? Not only does a comedian bring people closer by tying them through common bonds using humor, but such a person also has the benefit of making those around him or her much happier and easygoing due to stress relief.

And yes, jokes also relieve tension and stress-how many times have you felt so much worse after a good, deep belly laugh? Likely never! "Laughter is the best medicine" is an often-used phrase, and it is true. While no doctor would ever write down a prescription for humorous movies or websites, a good laugh does tone down the level of stress hormones in your body. These hormones have a negative impact on health, and if you have anything from a cold to cancer, stress certainly does not help you overcome these diseases. And your body recognizes the benefits, too! You have no doubt watched a funny movie while feeling under the weather, tired or stressed out at some point in your life. You instinctively recognize the benefits of a good laugh, and you wisely follow through!

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