Remember Uncontrollable Laughter?

Psychology Today says the average 4-year-old laughs 300-400 times a day while the average 40-year-old laughs only 4. While those numbers are a bit hard for me to accept, the point is we don’t laugh enough anymore.  Here’s how I know. I can actually recall one of my best laughing fits and I was reminded of it this week in a somewhat macabre way.

Paul Kantner, formerly of Jefferson Airplane, then Starship, died a few days ago. That was sad but it did bring back an historic moment of laughing for me. It was about 28 years ago. We were attending a friend’s wedding in San Francisco. The venue was a beautiful private home overlooking the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. We had been told the next door neighbor was Paul Kantner and his daughter. Kantner had fathered his bandmate Grace Slick’s child. When their daughter was born, Slick joked to a nurse about naming the child “god” in order to make her humble. Clearly lacking a sense of humor, the nurse reported the child’s name as “god,” giving birth to an urban legend which hippie freaks like me believed for many years until we found out her real name was “China.”

So, there we were, about 16 years after that baby was born, in a courtyard witnessing that poignant moment of bride and groom taking solemn and moving vows. My husband and I and about four of our friends were standing on the side as there weren’t enough chairs facing the wedding canopy. Thus we were facing the house next door while all the other attendees were facing the couple. We glanced up to see a young blonde female walk up to a translucent glass window. She stood next to the window, lowered her pants, and sat down, at which point, one of us whispered,”Do you think we’re seeing god peeing?” At that point we simply burst out laughing but we really didn’t want to because the ceremony had reached a fairly profound moment. So, while the six of us worked really hard to stifle the laughter the young woman stood, raised her pants, and walked away. Then we just lost it. You know how it is when you are laughing in a place or time you absolutely should not be laughing? I can’t lie, those laughs are often the best ones.

Our bride and groom friends were pretty cool about it later when they asked what the hell was so funny about their wedding. They had good senses of humor and even asked us to recount it all for the videographer to preserve the story for posterity.

So, when was the last time you laughed uncontrollably? And why don’t we do that more often anymore? Four year olds find things funny 400 times a day. What is wrong with the rest of us? Have we outgrown our sense of humor? And if so, how do we get it back?

Photo credit: Ozyman via / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Ozyman via / CC BY-NC-SA

4 Responses to “Remember Uncontrollable Laughter?

  • I’m lucky , I teach 4 year olds…I laugh more than most…their secret … they lack inhibition…adults have learned the art of “self control” …we express our emotions in a socially acceptable way… we regulate our laughter and usually need some inebriant for public acceptance… to live in this crazy world , its imperative to have a sense of humor… its hard to laugh out loud for the 100th time each day ( especially in California ) when some bubbly clerk tells you to have a nice day …if you want to laugh more, be less inhibited about laughing out loud …and …like a 4 year old…who has no reason to worry …be in the moment …a beginners mind is a happy mind…have a nice day ……..HA HA HA…

    • You are lucky to spend so much time with people who haven’t yet learned to stifle a laugh, or a tear for that matter. Pure joy, a rare commodity. But it’s not just a coincidence you live a life among the uninhibited. It’s the one you chose, the one you crafted because it suits you. It’s a life that celebrates authenticity. Not surprised at all!

  • Deb, what a fantastic story. And you pose a great question; why laughter is so much easier when we’re young. Maybe it has a lot to do with the bliss of ignorance. We’re all so busy trying to get from A to B with everything in between. I’ve had many of those laughs with one of my best friends Zan, who I write about in my books. And yes, it’s a well known fact that things just seem funnier when we’re in a place where it’s the most inopportune to be laughing out loud. LOL 🙂

    • The key there is you laugh with good and close friends in a deeper way than with anyone else. Just yesterday I was remarking in response to something my closest friend said, “You see, that comment right there is why I completely love you. You are as sick and depraved as I am!” And then we just cracked up. People who are fortunate to have such friends, as I know you are, are, as the song says, “the luckiest people in the world.” Those with whom we can laugh and cry, sometimes simultaneously, are what make life worth the ride!

Leave a Reply to Barry Ruttenberg Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: