top of page

Will Ferrell is Funnier than You, Me, and Your Grandpa. Whatever. Let’s Laugh Anyway.

By: Ella Reynolds


Preface 

  • If you don’t like to laugh, don’t read this. It might damage your funny bone.

  • Oh, and on that note, let me just quickly quash all assumptions about my humor. Occasionally I might inspire a quiet chuckle here or there from an observer that pitied the awkward silence; sooooo, don’t expect it to be funny. 

  • Some of this is serious. So pay attention. Or you can skim. BUT, it’s your loss. And sort of mine since I spent time writing this. 

Will Ferrell once (and possibly twice) said, “Before you marry a person you should first make them use a computer with slow internet to see who they really are.” First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever heard more sound advice. It should be a Buzzfeed quiz, because those things are always right. Second, if this is the test to see if you are a good person, then I certainly don’t pass. I lose my mind when it comes to slow internet. I’m incredibly impatient; I actually get annoyed during “Zootopia” when the sloths at the DMV are taking forever to look up a license plate number. It’s a kid’s movie, and I am genuinely irritated (yes, I know it’s a problem). Guess my chances for a husband aren’t looking good. 

But, I’m getting off track. The point is that 2020 is like a bad internet connection—patience is needed in abundance. That’s because COVID-19 has wrecked this year for everyone. I’ve missed out on award ceremonies, travel, and fun school trips. I know, I know, first world problems. Some of us have it worse. While I’m worried about whether or not I’ll get to attend my graduation, some teens are worried about whether or not they’ll get dinner. They live in unsafe environments and don’t have access to technology that they need during the school day. This pandemic has been exasperating for everyone, and we are all trying to cope. Although, let’s be clear: my coping methods aren’t the greatest. It mainly consists of me crunching handfuls of muddy buddies bitterly, crying lots of ugly tears, and yelling cynical things at “The Notebook”. You should try it sometime. It’s very therapeutic.

The sad truth of the matter is that we will always have our own personal “coronavirus”—frustrating circumstances that will bog us down. Regardless of how big (pandemic) or how small (slow internet) your problems are, they will be there, nagging you. Life doesn’t get easier, but your approach to it can. Maybe that old adage is true: Laughter and a spoonful of sugar truly can be the best medicine for these struggles. 

Cackling at the things that you used to cry about is an awesome feeling… equivalent to having a superpower, but don’t take my word for it. Trust the smart people with the big words. In an emotion-regulation study, researchers showed subjects a series of negative imagery, such as corpses, car accidents, and dental exams. Afterwards, Stanford Researcher Andrea Samson and Psychology Professor James Gross asked them to come up with jokes for these morbid photos, reinterpreting the images before reporting their emotions. Subjects who made jokes benefited, reporting increased positive emotions. (And to be honest, if you can find a way to joke about dental exams, then you’ve got a career in comedy.) Samson even said that "If you are able to teach people to be more playful, to look at the absurdities of life as humorous, you see some increase in wellbeing.”

Humor is powerful. Still don’t believe me? Let me set the scene for you. You make some stupid mediocre quip, probably a “Yo Momma’ joke” along the lines of “ yo momma's so stupid; she stared at a cup of orange juice for 12 hours because it said ‘concentrate.’”  (This phrase does not in any way represent Stress Free Teens feelings about mothers, therefore they are not liable. I might be. But don’t sue.) Anyways, your boyfriend hacks a sympathy chuckle at your pathetic joke, Joe starts giggling like a 4th grader, and Brittany begins hysterically laughing. All of a sudden everyone in the room is cackling like you just told the most brilliant joke. No one even remembers that it wasn’t funny. You become the new Kevin Hart. 

Laughter can be “contagious,” and you might still catch it even if Brittany is laughing six feet away. Humor, especially this example of a domino-contagion effect, allows for an emotional catharsis in groups. It provides an outlet for feelings of anxiety, hostility, and fear someone may face in social situations. This contagious laughter with other people creates a pleasurable experience. It leads to better performance in social interactions and gives people more control over their anxiety. Humor in a group setting enables peers to overcome their exaggerated defenses and allow them to let down their walls. So essentially, laugh a lot and maybe people will like you more. Or maybe they won’t. Not making promises. But, you’ll be happier! 

A good way to deal with life's endless frustrations is by finding the irony and absurdity in an irritating situation. This can cheer you up and help you find humor in a dismal world.  For example, I’m a cross country runner. That phrase might sound impressive, but let me tell you, it’s not. It consists of me jogging really slowly, taking lots of bathroom breaks, and looking like a greasy tomato. Running is difficult and so I try to find ways to laugh about it. At the races, I’d laugh about the unbearable poop in the Porta Potties which looked like a mix of throwup, dark grass stains, and acorn chunks. You’re welcome for that imagery (that’s great writing right there; can’t you almost smell it?) I’d even find ways to make fun of the 3 mile course that was a desert loop. So, I laughed. I laughed about my own misgivings and circumstances. 

Finding humor amidst the stinky Porta-Potties of this world is a crucial life skill. In fact, it can improve your physical health, boost your attractiveness (If you couldn’t tell, I laugh a lot), and improve your leadership skills. It also profoundly influences your mental health. According to the Relief Theory, humor is a way to blow off psychological steam and release pent-up energy. A sense of humor is like your mind’s immune system. By reframing a negative event into a funnier light, it acts as an emotional filter, guarding against depression. Overall, humor improves quality of life. Everytime you laugh, you get another month added to your life. Okay, maybe that’s not scientifically proven, but I’d like to think that it’s true. 

That’s why I try to find ways to laugh, even in the most unexpected situations. For example, bad dates make the BEST anecdotes. One time, I saw a veryyyyyyy (is that enough y’s??)  attractive guy at a pizza parlor. I was feeling quite bold that day, so I decided to give him my number. I snatched a napkin and a bright pink crayon, wrote my number with my name utilizing my cutest cursive handwriting, and walked over to the table. Wait hold up. “Walked” is the wrong word to describe the gracious movement I made. I GLIDED across that gross tomato-stained walkway, plopped that napkin down (IN FRONT OF HIS WHOLE FAMILY) and model-walked away. I was so proud of myself. Flash forward to a few weeks later. He asks me out on a date, comes to my door, and as I’m opening it, I see him. He’s 5’3. 5 feet, 3 inches. It hits me like a brick. (I’ve never been hit by a brick, but I’m pretty sure this is what it feels like.) I didn’t realize his height, because he was sitting down when I first met him. I’m standing there, in the walkway, mouth gaping open, in shock. My first words were, “I knew it. I should’ve told you I was tall.”  You can guess how the rest of that date went. I still laugh about it to this day. Yes, my height is rough. Ugh.  I guess I have to reveal my height for contextual purposes. I’m 5’10’’ but I round down for the boys. So let’s just say I’m 5’9’’, in case any cute guys are reading (*wink*). See? They make for some funny stories. 

But, some stories aren’t hilarious. They’re not meant to be. Sometimes it’s difficult to find humor whilst dwelling in the darkest corners of humanity. Comedy is a powerful and oftentimes dangerous weapon. In Nazi Germany, joke-telling was made illegal, and those who told any kind of political jokes were labeled “asocial”—groups that were sent to concentration camps.  Many determined the harshness of the punishment based upon the idea that “the better the joke, the more dangerous its effect, therefore, the greater punishment.” In “Night”, a memoir written by Holocaust-survivor Elie Wiesel, Wiesel discusses humor in the concentration camps and the macabre forms it took. Eva Salier, a fellow survivor, explains that there was even “a funny side in Auschwitz.”  In fact, she credits her sense of humor with helping her survive the death camps. 

Humor is clearly compelling, but often, it even feels as if that is not enough. It’s hard to look beyond the tough day you’re having, when you think you’re going to experience it all again tomorrow. I’m not going to pretend it’s easy. I can’t provide a magic cure either. No one can. Yet, those in concentration camps lost everyone and everything, and they still found reasons to smile, reasons to laugh. Boisterous laughter persisted in and out of concentration camps during the Nazi era despite the inexplicable amount of pain they felt daily. They had enough courage to simply laugh. That’s inspiring. Humor can have a profound impact on human resilience and spirit, if we let it; if we let laughter get us through a hard moment, it can do it again tomorrow. 

So, here’s my challenge. Try to chortle at irksome situations rather than bemoan them. Channel your inner child. Find reasons to laugh; they’re all around you. Don’t be afraid to make fun of yourself. Read some Will Ferrell quotes. And lastly, don’t go a day without laughing. 


____________________________________________________________________________________

Sources

Correspondent, J. “Survivors Memoir Reveals Role Humor Played in the Camps.” Jewish News , 28 Dec. 2016, www.jweekly.com/1996/04/05/survivor-s-memoir-reveals-role-humor-played-in-the-camps/.

Davis Matt Davis, Matt. “Why a Sense of Humor Is an Essential Life Skill.” World Economic Forum, 16 Apr. 2019, www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/04/why-humor-is-an-essential-life-skill/.

McClure, Max, and Max McClure. “Stanford Psychologists Find That Jokes Help Us Cope with Horrifying Images.” Stanford University, 1 Aug. 2011, news.stanford.edu/news/2011/august/humor-coping-horror-080111.html.

McLeod, Nia Simone. “50 Will Ferrell Quotes to Give You a Good Laugh.” Everyday Power, 4 Mar. 2020, everydaypower.com/will-ferrell-quotes/.

Shatz, Itamar. “The Humor Effect: On the Benefits of Humor and How to Use It Effectively.” Effectiviology, 2020, effectiviology.com/humor-effect/.

Weiss, Elizabeth M, et al. “Humor Creation during Efforts to Find Humorous Cognitive Reappraisals of Threatening Situations.” Current Psychology , 24 May 2019, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12144-019-00296-9. 

Wiesel, Elie. Night . Sundance, 1992. 



Comments


bottom of page