When I worked in television, some vexing problem would cause us to angst and beat our brows for hours until someone would say, “Hey, come on, guys. It’s comedy. We’re not curing cancer here.” That put our Big Problem into proper perspective—and was probably scientifically incorrect.
I used to be a bit embarrassed that I was “just a comedian,” while people were doing essential work like teaching children, fighting crime, or righting social injustices. I’ve gradually come to realize that making people laugh is very valuable, even necessary work (a friend calls me “Pastor Mack” because I nurture peoples’ spirits). I’ve recently had the thrilling epiphany that I might actually be curing cancer.
Since I’m also a humorous motivational speaker, I’ve kept up with the research that demonstrates the healthful benefits of laughing. It’s been known for some time that smiling and laughing cause the brain to release dopamine, which produces feelings of happiness as well as physical benefits. One of the oddest and most wonderful discoveries of late is that FAKING smiling and laughing has exactly the same effect because it fools the brain into thinking you’ve got something to laugh about. Feeling down? Smile and self-medicate!
Studies now show that laughter can increase tolerance to pain, lower blood glucose levels in Type 2 diabetes patients, trigger a bunch of reactions that help prevent heart attacks, and—drumroll, please—kill cancer cells! A Loma Linda University researcher reported that laughter increased the activity of several critical antibodies and natural cancer-killing cells, which are essential in anti-tumor defense.
Statistically, 41 per cent of Americans will get some type of cancer in their lives. So when I perform for 500 people (that’s not a stock photo up top–those folks are laughing at ME), the chances are pretty remote that not one person in the room has a trace of cancer. I don’t want to brag, but I make people pee their pants laughing pretty much every time I perform, releasing PINTS of cancer killing cells, and possibly obliterating a tiny, evil, lethal gremlin that’s just starting to form, i.e., curing cancer!
So the next time you smile at a stranger and they smile back, or you tell a story that gets chuckles and guffaws, remember those are not frivolous pursuits. You could be curing cancer.