Read an Excerpt
Now think for a moment about the question ôWhat makes you laugh?ö No doubt you would be able to produce a nice list. You might even have difficulty getting to the end of it.
Like most things in life, when we sit down and produce a mental list of blessings and highlights, we come to realize very quickly how fortunate we are and how truly good life has been. As we go about our days, working and hoping and striving for the future, we can miss the here-and-now moments and the one-of-a-kind events that will live forever in our memory. It doesnÆt take much to set us on edge and keep us from enjoying the little things. ThatÆs where laughter comes in. And thatÆs why we need it.
I write a column called ôMalebagö for a bridal magazine. Each issue affords me the opportunity to explore another dimension of marriage from a male perspective hence the title of the column.
A few issues back I wrote about the humorous habits of the average American male. My research for this column consisted of conversations with friends, a few phone calls and a bit of reading in psychology journals. But all things pointed to the same conclusion: Men find humor in certain television shows and situations, and the male laugh-o-meter is generally difference than the female.
Consider, for example, the type of humor of the Three Stooges. Most men are reduced to tears by the crazy antics and slapstick humor of these idiots. Most women, on the other hand, consider these antics to be childish and a complete waste of time. Women generally donÆt laugh at physical humor.
While writing this column, I also found that, according to several studies of male and female habits, men tend to touch other men far more often than women touch other women. This is especially true when men laugh and joke with one another. Men will generally slap each other on the back or the thigh following the punch line of a joke. They will lean toward each other and sometimes offer a fake punch to the ribs. Women, on the other hand, more frequently laugh and joke with one another at a distance. Male humor tends to lean toward the visual and the physical. WomenÆs humor tens to lean toward the auditory and the cerebral.
These of course, are broad generalizations, but I think they hold true in the marketplace of laughter. The differences between the sexes are often the source of some of our richest humor.
Comic strips, especially, play on the male / female differences. Strips like Blondie, Andy Capp, Hagar the Horrible and The Born Loser all poke fun at male / female relationships and stereotypes. In the comic strip Blondie, Dagwood is often portrayed as a ôtypicalö man,, a fellow with little feeling for romance or communication. Blondie, on the other hand, always seems to have the perfect answer for Dagwood and the family. Likewise, Andy Capp would rather spend time with his friends, and his wife always has to bail him out of trouble. Even Hagar the Horrible a real manÆs man is no match for his wife when it comes to wit or a test of wills. The Born Loser and his wife are often portrayed as a typical married couple who canÆt seem to win at anything. A great many of these comic strips address aspects of marriage and love that may remind us of ourselves and help us to laugh at our situations.
A great many jokes also hit upon aspects of marriage that often remind us of ourselves. Such is the case of the older gentleman who was being examined by his doctor. When the doctor finished he said, ôHow old did you say you were, sir?ö
ôEighty-eightö, came the reply.
ôEighty-eight! Sir, you have the body of a sixty-year-old. WhatÆs your secret?ö
The fellow explained: ôWell, when my wife and I got married, we agreed that we would settle every argument in the following manner: When she got mad, she would go to the kitchen to calm down. When I got mad, I would keep my mouth shut and go outside until I calmed down.ö
The doctor looked puzzled. ôI donÆt understand,ö he said. ôHow has that helped you to stay fit?ö
öWellö the fellow explained, ôletÆs just say that IÆve lived an outdoor life.ö
Often when IÆm reading the newspaper, I guffaw at the plights of human beings in all of their resplendent glory. Some of the true-life accounts of human foibles and mistakes are the best humor we can find. Or, as the old saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. We donÆt have to look past our newspapers to find a reason to laugh.
In other news, a Belgian thief was once caught in the act of burglarizing a house. As he fled the scene, he exited out a back door, ran past policemen and guards, scaled a nine-foot wall topped with barbed wire, dropped to the group, and found himself inside the city prison.
Every day it seems, if we read the newspaper or listen to the news with an ear for humor, we can find something to laugh about. Someone, somewhere, is making a fool of himself. Somebody else is giving us a reason to laugh at the strange twists and turns of life.
Folks who want to hear or see only doom and gloom are missing out on quite a funny ride. They are also missing an opportunity to be happy.
IÆve got a friend, Charlie, who bears a striking resemblance to Colonel Sanders the famous fried-chicken king. Charlie is nearing one hundred years of age, and yet he is full of the vim and vigor of life. He loves to laugh, and he is constantly on the lookout for tidbits of humor and laughable quotes. He collects these in a notebook every month and sends out a newsletter to friends and family. IÆm on his mailing list.
last month he sent me a collection of quotes that he had gleaned from various sources. I pass a few of them along to you.
Waking up in the morning is a matter of mind over mattress.
You know youÆve reached middle age when your weight training consists of standing up.
Going to the beach is cleaning the attic you never know what youÆre going to find in trunks.
Stockroom clerk: someone whoÆs shelf-employed.
By the time youÆre rich enough to sleep late, youÆre so old you wake up early every morning.
Pop singer: someone who sings through his nose by ear.
Once you and I have an idea that we want to live well, we might as well learn to laugh. LifeÆs too short to make it any other way.
Just ask my friend Charlie.
¬1998. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Best Things in Life Are free by Todd Outcalt. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.