Friday, 16 September 2011

Laughter really is the best medicine

Photo credit: Christopher Dunne (Joy left, Reginald D Hunter right)

I recently watched a clip of Reginald D Hunter on BBC Breakfast and it reminded just how important laughter is. In the clip I saw, the American comic literally reduced presenter Sian Williams to tears.

A clip of his stand-up work offers insight into the Georgian’s 14-year experience of British life. Joking about the British penchant for irony and sarcasm, he says: “Sometimes a British person can insult me and it takes me three weeks to figure it out!”

But Sian's laughing fit actually begins before the clip is shown, when she and co-presenter Bill Turnbull first sit down with him. Impressed by the courteous way the American has introduced himself to Sian, Bill warns Reg against flattering her. “She’ll want it all the time,” he jokes.

“Really,” responds Reg in his suavest tones. “Wow man. Sounds like you know your way around women.” (It seems the comedian may have picked up some of our dry British irony himself.)

Sian collapses into peals of laughter, holding her stomach and wiping tears away – clearly picturing poor Bill as the alluring rake. Her poor co-presenter quickly changes the subject, but the damage is done; Sian’s guffaws can still be clearly heard.

I’ve met Reg myself, and I too was impressed by his offstage persona as well as his onstage presence. After an excellent set, he hung around outside the dingy pub to chat to fans, sign autographs and pose for photos.

As I posed with him, he asked me my name. “Joy,” I said, sheepishly. “I can see how that could be,” he replied instantaneously, smiling broadly and wrapping his leathery arm around my shoulder (his skin wasn’t leathery, he was wearing a leather jacket!). He was extremely patient, charming and witty with all of his fans.

I left feeling that the evening had been a great success, having befriended a dashing celebrity AND giving my abs a good workout (he was very funny). My boyfriend left rolling his eyes at how goony I am around famous people!

 Photo credit: Christopher Dunne (Jon Richardson left, Joy right)

All of the comedians I’ve come into contact with have given off this laid-back, welcoming vibe. Jon Richardson and Lloyd Langford were very sweet and giggly when we met them outside Liverpool’s Unity Theatre and Michael McIntyre was charming during the two seconds I got with him at a book signing. And Sorted favourites Tim Vine, Milton Jones and Andy Kind were all on top form when I had the privilege of interviewing them for the magazine.

Being around funny people certainly lifts the mood. According to the experts, laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain and disagreement. Humour can make take your mind off your problems as well as helping to keep you grounded, focused and alert. The Bible also makes the connection between good humour and health. Proverbs 17:22 says: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Photo credit: Christopher Dunne (Lloyd Langford left, Joy right) 

Read more from your favourite comedians in the upcoming edition of Sorted magazine. In the meantime, here are some great gags and groaners from this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival to get you in the mood. 

Five of the best:

  1. Nick Helm: I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
  2. Tim Vine: Crime in multi-storey car parks. That is wrong on so many different levels.
  3. Hannibal Buress: People say, ‘I'm taking it one day at a time’. You know what? So is everybody. That's how time works.
  4. Tim Key: Drive Thru McDonalds was more expensive than I thought ... once you've hired the car ...
  5. Matt Kirshen: I was playing chess with my friend and he said, 'Let's make this interesting'. So we stopped playing chess.

Five of the worst:

  1. Tim Vine: Uncle Ben has died. No more Mr Rice Guy.
  2. Vladimir McTavish: The Lockerbie bomber put Lockerbie on the map. Well he nearly took it off it too.
  3. Josh Howie: I've got nothing against the Chinese. Don't get me Wong.
  4. Card Ninja: I went to see this show and the guy said ‘Hey kid do you like magic?’ And I said ‘Yeah!’ So he asked if I wanted to see a trick and I said ‘Yeah!’ So he said ‘think of a number, times it by two and if it’s odd ...’ Oh no, he's a MATHmagician!  
  5. Tom Webb: Due to the economy, profiteroles will now be called deficiteroles.

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