Myriad hues of laughter : The Tribune India

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Myriad hues of laughter

Myriad hues of laughter

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo



Shankar Gopalkrishnan

THEY say laughter is the best medicine. Medicine is mostly bitter, but thankfully, laughter comes in different flavours. At one end of the spectrum are those who laugh as though they are consuming medicine. It flows in a trickle, in ounces and teaspoonfuls, just this much and no more!

I watch comic films wearing such a laughter hat. ‘Didn’t you understand the joke?’ my wife asks, scrutinising my grave expression. ‘I did understand the joke. That’s exactly why I cannot laugh,’ I say. Stand-up comedians should be thankful that I am not in the audience. By now, they would have lost all self-confidence, watching every joke fall flat, with not a ripple registered on my placid face.

At the other end of the spectrum are the popular comedy shows on TV. The anchor normally employs a laughing sidekick to liven up the show. The sidekick has just one job — to laugh at the drop of a hat. For every innocuous comment from the anchor, the sidekick claps his hands and laughs uproariously. ‘I went to the market and bought potatoes!’ the anchor comments. The sidekick repeats the line ‘I went to the market’ and breaks into a bout of convulsive laughter to the extent that he can’t complete the sentence. Watching him, I get irritated: ‘They must have fed him laughing gas! No wonder he laughs for the silliest reason!’

Today’s generation replies on social media with the ubiquitous ‘LOL’ and ‘ROFL’. I have always been tickled by ROFL (‘Rolling On the Floor Laughing’). Imagine someone sitting in a train replying with ROFL. One moment, he is sitting on the side-berth, all normal. He reads your message and the next moment, he goes rolling down the train’s aisle! How do the co-passengers react to this spectacle?

Laughter comes in several styles. In one, the person is laughing, but not one sound emerges. Only the eyes crease into a straight line, the face turns red, and the shoulder rocks. He is like a volcano, the lava is smouldering, but it is all bottled within. After several minutes elapse, suddenly, the volcano explodes into a round of resounding laughter. There are others who laugh with their mouth closed — so much so, each laughter bout is a snort, much like that of a bull. And still others laugh so much that they hold their sides and plead with tears in their eyes: ‘Don’t make me laugh any more! Please!’ In such extreme cases, the laughter ends in a hiccup. With each hiccup, they laugh still more, leading to more hiccups. It is a vicious cycle that knows no end.

We are told that laughter is a 100 per cent human response. Animals can express all emotions but cannot laugh. Humans have decided for animals that animals cannot laugh! One fine day, when humans finally succeed in their self-destructive ways, all the monkeys and elephants will assemble and break into a collective laugh. After all, he who laughs last laughs best!


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