TBT: The Best Free Medicine (Hint: Not Hydroxyclean)

It's not Hydroxyclean. Or any kind of disinfectant. Or hydroxychloroquine. It's not anything hocked by our joke of a president. But it is jokes about that and anything else that makes you laugh instead of rage. Humor has become more important than ever to my family's mental and emotional health during this global crisis. My tastes may have matured (or... something) since my days of watching Sacha Baron Cohen movies--now I prefer watching YouTube shows Trixie and Katya Save the World (WOWPresents) and I Like to Watch (Netflix) and following @knee_deep_in_life on Instagram.

My husband and I laugh so hard we cry over a well-timed fart joke. Our nine-year-old daughter is a bit more sophisticated, but she shares the dark side of our sense of humor; we all adore Christina Ricci's iconic portrayal of Wednesday Addams.

The news is, as usual, full of horror that isn't funny. Right now, the two main themes seem to be pandemic tragedy and racist violence. My husband and I check the news every day, and from time to time, we talk about these and other important issues with our child in age-appropriate ways. And then, instead of wallowing in what disgusts and saddens us, we actively seek out examples of people behaving positively--helpfully, heroically, kindly, wisely--and make sure we witness and talk about that. I believe that in order to raise an emotionally healthy child who responds appropriately to problems like contagious disease and unfairness, she needs exposure to plenty of good examples of diverse people who face challenges with empathy and courage.

But also, oh so importantly, we need to blow off steam with stupid humor that doesn't necessarily offer up any educational value. For a balanced diet, we are careful to make sure that a healthy portion of our media consumption is ridiculous comedy. We appreciate timeless nonsense like funny faces and silly walks. And when we enjoy topical humor, we like it as spicy as possible. I don't dare mention everything we laugh at, but I'll admit to tagging people on Reductress headlines from time to time.

There's no shame in that game; a wicked sense of humor is associated with intelligence and emotional chill. People who can laugh easily at The Addams Family and less family-friendly content tend to be more resilient and better able to handle upsetting situations in real life.

So go ahead and laugh at a well-earned sick burn. It doesn't make you a bad person. On the contrary, it might be a smart and healthy way to cope.

The Best Free Medicine

Available for less than the average copay, at least.

I just saw Bruno last night. I haven't laughed that hard, for that long, in a while. My abs were sore by the end of the movie. All the most appalling things about human beings and the world make the best comedy. It really puts things in perspective.

Plenty of research suggests that there are health and happiness benefits of laughter. If you follow the "plenty of research" link, you'll see that some scientists are skeptical of the benefits. They think that, perhaps, laughter does not cure all diseases or make people immortal. DURRR!! (We are a black-and-white culture, we Westerners, aren't we?) DISCLAIMER: Laughter does not cure cancer or make up for ALL unhealthy things we do. But I remember many compelling studies from my college years giving clear evidence that laughter has significant short- and long-term physical, emotional, and mental health benefits. It sure as hell doesn't hurt, and it improves the quality of life (of course), even if it doesn't magically cure all physical ills.

If you can't find enough return bottles to pay for a movie ticket, you could rent a DVD and invite friends over to watch a comedy. (They're always funnier when other people are giggling along with you.) Or buy a used copy of something hilarious. (I did just mention I found a like-new Borat DVD for $1, yes?) Or watch all the episodes of South Park or The Daily Show or stand-up comedy on ComedyCentral.com. Or just make time to hang out with that twisted pal who makes milk shoot out of your nose.

It does a body good.


  1. I am *always* looking for my next hearty guffaw. :-D There is nothing better than laughing oneself senseless.

    I may have to disagree with you on the matter of laughter granting immortality. I laugh often and I've never died, not even once. :-P


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