Friday, February 3, 2012

What's so funny?

A common question people throw at me in interviews is how I ended up writing comedy.

It's sometimes asked with the same tone you'd use to inquire how someone ended up living in the back of a Subaru eating Spam and carrying on conversations with a sock puppet named Leroy.

I usually explain that I come from a family of people with ridiculously clever senses of humor, and that if you lined us all up from funniest to least funny, I'd be somewhere near the tail end near the potted fern. It's true most members of my family are terrific comics, but I seldom touch on why.

I'm pretty sure it boils down to the fact that my mom has the best laugh in the whole world.

I won't even try to describe it because there's no way to do it justice. Suffice it to say, it's equal parts unfettered joy and holycowIthinkshemightpeeherpants.

Getting my mom to laugh like that became a family mission from the time my brother and I were still telling knock-knock jokes with no punchline. Even today, there's an unspoken competition among family members for who can make my mother laugh 'til her mascara runs.

With a goal like that, it's no wonder I grew up to write romantic comedy.

What is it about some people's laughter that makes it the vocal equivalent of joy-juice for everyone within a 200-yard radius? I was thinking about this a few mornings ago when one of the housemates and I were standing in the kitchen contemplating whether turning on lights and making toast were really worth the effort.

From the other side of the wall, we heard the sound of gut-splitting laughter. It was like instant sunshine in our dark little kitchen and we both just stood there listening to my gentleman friend howl.

My housemate grinned. "He has the best laugh."

I smiled back, a little surprised by the observation. "That's the reason I hang out with him."

He raised an eyebrow at me.

"One of the reasons," I amended. "But an important one."

Is there someone in your life whose laughter has the ability to totally make your day? On the flip-side, have you ever had to force yourself not to snicker at someone with a particularly unusual laugh? Please share!

Oh, and in case you're wondering what prompted my gentleman friend's maniacal laughter that morning, he was watching videos at This is one of his recent favorites:


Sarah W said...

Holy cow, that video!

All laughter makes my day, unless they're laughing at my full-out laugh, which is like something the adopted child of a seal and a hyena might have, if her godmother was a woodpecker.

Patty Blount said...

One of primary reasons I married my husband is because he was the funniest person I'd ever met. He has one of those gut-busting laughs that makes everyone want to sit next to him when we watch a movie. He laughs even when he's alone. I can't tell you how many times I woke up to the sound of him laughing while he watched an early movie.

Sadly, the whole American Airlines situation has killed his sense of humor. (We're facing a layoff.) But I know him; it won't be gone for long.

Ali Trotta said...

This made my morning. Laughter is always a win. :-) Thanks for this!

Linda G. said...

Oh, my gawd! That video! Thanks a lot. Now I've peed my pants. ;)

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine from college laughs exactly like Tom Hulce in Amadeus. I missed most of the movie when I went with her because of her laughing at him and me laughing at the both of them.

Unknown said...

My poor sister ended her laughs with the pig grunt for a long time until she taught herself to not do it.

People have said I have an odd laugh. By their tone of voice I can tell they aren't sure if it's time to call out the men in white coats. I know I do the whole full snap head back thing. And it's got a high pitched sound. I suspect none of that is good.

Becky said...

The day I made the funniest person I know laugh was the day I discovered my favorite laugh: it's the one that is the most challenging that is also the most satisfying, no matter who it is. But usually this person is my brother.