The benefits of laughter are many, but some fly under the radar.
Anyone who has laughed until something hurt, or rolled around on the floor struggling to wipe the tears from their eyes will immediately recognize that one of the many benefits of laughter is the stress relief that comes with some high quality humor. Laughing boosts your creativity, increases endorphin and dopamine response and more.
Plus, if practicing rabbi and stand-up comedian Bob Alper is to be believed, “When a joke works, when in response to our words people immediately smile and laugh and wipe away tears, that’s nothing short of divine.”
A potentially overlooked benefit of laughter is its power to draw people together. It can even go deeper than watching a comedy with your family, then feel a little bit closer at the end as you chuckle and clean up the popcorn. Comedy can bridge cultural and religious gaps as well.
Bob Alper witnessed — and helped bring about — this kind of comedy at MuslimFest in Toronto. He has performed hundreds of shows with Muslim comedy partners, calling the joint effort “Laugh in Peace.”
What started as a bit of a gimmick blossomed into an entire series of shows and many, many friendships that weren’t defined by the faith of the performers or the audience, but by the realization that they found the same kinds of things hilarious.
“‘Laugh in Peace’ brought a sense of hope and relief and healing that shared laughter–especially shared laughter between communities in frequent tension–can provide,” Alper writes.
If anything, the difference in faith, culture and language is another source of humor.
Pop quiz: What does the popular synagogue name “Kol Ami” mean?
In Hebrew, “Voice of my people.”
In Arabic, “Eat my uncle.”