Laughing When You Don’t Wanna

Evening, loves. This was slotted to be my humorous contribution for today, but the trouble is, it’s been kind of a crap week for me and I’m not feeling very funny. Add to this the fact that I’m not terribly amusing on a good day, and things are looking pretty bleak. So! I thought I would address this issue head-on: how do you laugh when you don’t really feel like laughing?

Everyone knows that the less appropriate it is for you to laugh, the harder it will be to stop laughing. Growing up (and even well into adulthood) I was a terrible church-laugher. Pretty much anything could trigger it: it could be a funny face the cantor made, it could be a restless kid throwing something/falling off the pew, it could be someone near me singing the wrong word or note. Whatever it was, once I started giggling, I was pretty much done for. When I was young, I wanted to stop because my parents were going to get mad at me. When I was older, I wanted to stop because I was a goddamn grownup and shouldn’t be laughing in church.

Then there are funerals. They are devastating and exhausting experiences, whether or not you’re a direct griever. I’ve personally never laughed inappropriately at a funeral, nor have I ever known someone who has. But there is the common occurrence of a joke that a friend or relative of the deceased makes when they get up to speak. You laugh, lightly but sincerely. It’s a relieved laugh, a warm laugh, a laugh that says many things. It isn’t necessarily sad, though it isn’t happy either. It’s a laugh that reminds you that you loved the person. It’s a laugh that assures you you will laugh again.

So what about when you’re just in a piss-poor mood and don’t think anything’s funny? Am I the only one that sometimes finds that a laugh can sneak up at times like that? I think that’s because it’s a combination of the two laughs described above: one part inappropriateness and one part relief. I mean, I can rock a perma-scowl with the best of them. In fact, I scowled my way home from work today even after a five-fingered man announced to the entire subway car that it was a beautiful day (it was) and we should all smile. I didn’t do it! I ruined the day of a nice man with five fingers. Total.

And then my mopey ass pouted on the couch to Mr. McDoogs about my woes and in the middle of his generally sympathetic listening, he said something small and simple that made me laugh. Not the little half-laugh when you’re just humoring someone for their attempts to cheer you up. There was nothing polite about this one because it was a full-on Hattie Cackletm and it was loud. (Also, attractive.) It was enough to make me stop feeling sorry for myself, even if just for a moment. It didn’t fix anything; things are generally still in the pooper for this bitch. But it just felt good to let go for a minute.

If you don’t have a hilarious loved one nearby, TV, movies and the internet are always good in a pinch. I currently have such an overwhelming need to watch Archer that I’m just looking for things to do to pass the time until the new episode comes on. Because that show always makes me crack up, but I have a feeling I’ll laugh more than usual this time. And it will feel good.

Photo: Getty

10 replies on “Laughing When You Don’t Wanna”

It sounds trite, but I’m one of those “force yourself to smile, and you’ll feel better” people, which goes for laughs too. Even if I’m in the WORST mood, if I can force out that half-assed smile or laugh to humor whoever is talking to me/trying to cheer me up/whatever, it will make me feel better, and inevitably lead to a real laugh. Even at something stupid.

This does come with the caveat, however, that if I am in the midst of a good cry, then a real laugh will also make me cry harder. Sometimes I feel sorry for people trying to cheer me up, because it has to be hard to see every nice thing you say or real laugh you elicit result in MORE tears.

i’ve had the inappropirate laughter thing happen to me a few times and i’ve never understood it.

in seventh grade, the teacher was telling a story about some guy who died from cancer (all i can really remember is that it absolutely nothing to do with our class or what we were studying at the time) and girls around me were getting all weepy. me on the other hand? i was mortified that this giant grin was trying to break out on my face and giggles were choking me from me trying to keep them in. the more i tried to stop it, the more determined my giggle fit seemed to be. i think maybe we all have this stereotypical idea of what our emotional responses should be to certain situations, and when our body decides to react differently it’s mortifying and mystifying, like omg how could i be so out of control of my own body that i can’t even come up with the correct emotional response?

oh this is my life.
sometimes during class (not all the time, children, sometimes I am a good example) I will be reading something on the internet and be trying so hard, SO HARD not to laugh.
but the worst is when I’m at home and singing in church, and every time. a dear friend of mine does everything she can to make me laugh…. which is basically anything she does, though the most effective is pretending her cupped hands are binoculars…. at which point I am a dead woman.

One time, in the throes of passion with the husband, one of us said or did something amusing- I don’t even remember what it was- but it sent us both into such a debilitating fit of the giggles that it totally killed the coitus. We laughed our asses off for another 10 minutes or so, but yeah, no nooky was gonna happen. Finding something hysterical? Awesome! Not having sex when you were all worked up? Less awesome, but at least we got a good laugh, I guess? Maybe?

Surefire ways to make myself laugh out loud: Youtube search of Corgi Belly Flop. An episode or two of Modern Family. Read the Twitter account of Stephen Colbert, Mindy Kaling, and Kanye West. Try to get my dog to let me blow raspberries on her stomach. (HAAA) okay now I am laughing, and that’s after my boss made me cry today.

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