Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.
~ Mark Twain
In the midst of a pandemic, some may feel that the ability to laugh should be put on hold until we get beyond this dark time. And, undoubtedly, there is enough pain to go around right now for centuries to come. However, if we deny ourselves the human coping mechanism and therapeutic benefits of laughter, we are doing ourselves even more harm.
Laughter actually provides benefits for both our physical and mental health (see below). It’s so important that we compiled lists on three sources of laughter, from memes and films to board games:
I think you may be pleasantly surprised with some of these benefits of laughter (I know I was!):
6 Benefits of Laughing:
- Improve your immune system: Negative thinking triggers chemical reactions that can increase stress and decrease your immunity. Conversely, positive thinking can release endorphins that reduce stress, temporarily relieve pain and potentially fight more-serious illnesses.
- Protect your heart: Laughing increases blood flow and improves the function of blood vessels, which can help shield you from a heart attack or other cardiovascular issues.
- Improve your mood:
Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.
- Burn calories? YES! Believe it or not, one study found that laughing for 10-15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories! So, laugh a little more while you’re probably snacking a little more during quarantine (but of course, make sure you’re staying active)!
- Improve your sleep quality: When you laugh, it increases the body’s production of melatonin. A group of Japanese researchers found that laughing in the evening causes the body to produce more melatonin (the hormone released by the brain at sleep onset). Melatonin levels were higher in those women who had watched a Charlie Chaplin movie than the news.
- Possibly help you live longer: A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer. I see this value with my grandmother, who is 101 years young and continues seeing the humor in her daily life, sharing her wit and sometimes salty jokes, keeping us ALL laughing OUT LOUD!
Now that we find ourselves shut-in to combat the spread of COVID-19, why not take some time to laugh and spread the laughter with our loved ones. There is certainly no shortage of hilarious content these days, with memes and TikTok videos to keep us amused. Here is a sampling of some of our faves:
Top 7 COVID-19 Humor Memes:
A Little ‘Cone of Shame’ Fun!
Back in the Day … and SO TRUE!
‘Rolling on the Floor Laughing’…LITERALLY!
Some Millennial Jabbing:
The Irony of Reality Meets Pop Culture!
The New Value of Necessities:
And finally, just plain ridiculousness!
6 Belly Laughter-Inducing Films
Ok, so now you’ve had a good laugh. But we can only look at so many memes and TikTok videos before we need something a little more long-lasting and engaging, like a good old-fashioned comedy movie. And now, of course, with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Disney +, just about any funny flick you can think of is just a click away.
So, we polled the Smart Lifebites team to come up with a list of our favorite funny, gut-buster films—no rom-com or lighthearted fun—but some real belly laughs. Another goal was to keep our list as family-friendly as possible, but these days that’s pretty tough so we’ll let you know which ones may include some scenes you need to cover the kiddos’ eyes or ears on. So here’s our list.
1.) “Rat Race”
2001 – A Las Vegas casino magnate, determined to find a new avenue for wagering, sets up a race for money.
This movie features an ensemble cast including Whoopi Goldberg, John Cleese, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bean, John Lovitz and several others. My family has enjoyed this movie, watching it many times over the years. There are some incredibly hysterical scenes you will never forget. They include a cow and a hot air balloon, a busload of “Lucy” fans (dressed as Lucy), a stop at the “Barbie” museum (yep, a wildly different “Barbie” than the doll), a live-organ delivery that goes awry, and a scene with Cuba Gooding Jr. that will literally have you ROTFL! So I won’t give away anymore. You HAVE to watch this one for yourself. There are a few inappropriate scenes for little ones, but for the most part just some great fun. “It’s a lace! I am weeeening!!”
2.) “The Pink Panther”
2006 – Bumbling Inspector Clouseau must solve the murder of a famous soccer coach and find out who stole the infamous Pink Panther diamond.
Ok, I admit, you must be a bit of a slapstick and corny joke lover to enjoy this movie. However, two words: Steve Martin. Need I say more? Plus, this one is pretty family-friendly (with one hilarious scene with Martin, Beyonce and a ‘little blue pill.’ However, the kiddos probably won’t get the humor, so you won’t have to cover their eyes. Repeat after me …”I wooood laak twa byee a dembelger!”
1996 – A star bowler whose career was prematurely “cut off” hopes to ride a new prodigy to success and riches.
Beware, this one is NOT for the kiddos; however it is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen! Woody Harrelson carries this preposterous storyline with some help from extraordinarily outlandish characters played by Bill Murray and Randy Quaid. This was one of the first movies from the Farrelly Brothers (“Dumb & Dumber,” “There’s Something About Mary,” “Shallow Hal,” etc.), and in my opinion, THE BEST! I’m sure there are cinema buffs out there that would argue with my ranking, but it’s my favorite and I’m sticking to it! “I’m Big Ern…I’m above the law!”
2011 – Competition between the maid of honor and a bridesmaid, over who is the bride’s best friend, threatens to upend the life of an out-of-work pastry chef.
Bridesmaids is a personal favorite of mine. This comedy romance film tells the story of two women competing for the title of the bride’s “best friend.” The perfect movie for a laugh-out-loud kind of night (and the perfect girls night movie when quarantine is over). Another one that is not for the kiddos, but a film with laughter, charm and a heartfelt storyline. It has its chick “flickness” but guys, don’t be afraid — you’ll love it, too!
5.) “Kicking & Screaming”
2005 – Phil Weston, a family man, is the victim of his Dad’s over-zealous, competitive nature. He decides to get even, and takes the head coach job for his son’s soccer team, only to fall into the same cut-throat patterns to hilarious extremes.
This PG film has something for everyone. Will Ferrell as Weston transforms from meek and mild-mannered, coffee-virgin Dad, to crazed, caffeine-jolted, win-at-all-costs coach. There’s a coffee shop scene where Ferrell loses his marbles because the line isn’t going fast enough. Robert Duvall plays the part of his hard-driving Dad, and Mike Ditka plays himself, as assistant coach to Ferrell. This is not only funny, it’s also a feel-good movie as the kid characters are witty and rally to show Ferrell’s character the error of his ways.
6.) My Cousin Vinny
1992 – On their way back to college, two New Yorkers are mistakenly accused of murder in rural Alabama. One of their cousins–a former auto mechanic and brash Brooklyn lawyer who only recently managed to pass the bar exam on his sixth try–comes to defend them.
Yes, this is R-rated, but only for the hilarious expletives. Joe Pesci plays the role of bumbling lawyer Vincent Gambini who gets a crash course in law and other essentials like proper grits and hunting. Marisa Tomei won an Academy Award for her Best Supporting Actress role as Pesci’s girlfriend, Mona Lisa Vito, an unemployed hair stylists with an auto mechanic background. Tomei provides side-splitting humor as the airhead who turns out to be key in unraveling this mystery.
Games to get you laughing
Maybe one of the best ways to get you laughing again is by pulling out those good old fashioned board games stacked in the back of your closet. Some of the funniest moments in my life have occurred during game night with my family. We recently ran a story about our favorite board games. We thought now, more than ever, is the perfect time to share some of the highlights while you’re hunkered down. So if you haven’t had the chance to read about these surefire fun-starters, read on. There are many great board and card games out there, but here are four of our favorites.
Top 4 Board Games to Get You Laughing
Ages: 8 or older (cards for Adults and Junior)
In my family, everybody loves Pictionary. Since skill levels vary greatly, we always have to pull names from a hat to see who would be partners. The group would always become hostile if my sister and I were partners because we had a clear advantage—not that we excelled in drawing, but because we are so close we could sometimes shout out the correct answer with just a couple of strokes. Just one of those sister things, but we almost felt like we were being tried as witches because of our unique ability to read each other’s minds. (Sometimes these games bring out the worst in us … jealousy, hostility, ruthlessness, whininess—but in a FUN way!
One of my favorite memories about Pictionary was the time my cousin Michael painstakingly drew a little old man hunched over with a cane. The drawing was almost masterpiece level! Poor Michael was so frustrated that no one could guess the word. Why couldn’t anyone see he had drawn a perfect old “geezer,” which is what he thought the word was? Unfortunately for Michael, the word was actually “geyser” which could have been such a simple drawing of water gushing upward from the ground! We still laugh about that to this day.
Ages: 12 and up
Players: 3 or more
My family also LOVES their trivia; however, the classic “Trivial Pursuit” game was just too slow-moving for my rambunctious tribe! We HAD to have the element of speed involved, so we opted for the old board game form of Jeopardy (yes, of course there is the high-tech version we can play on Alexa now), but there was something about those old clickers that used to bring another layer of fun into the game, but also created a larger margin for error for who clicked when …“I clicked first”…”no, I CLEARLY clicked first”… at which time we would need a mediator to make the final judgment (no one really liked playing THAT role!)
Age: 5 and up
I’m saving the most controversial game for last: Pit! This is a very simple card game with a bell. From Winning Moves Games, Pit is over a 100 years old and is designed to mimic the original stock market. The objective is to collect all of the same commodities (such as flax, corn, barley, etc.) and not get stuck with the “Bear” card. Seems innocuous, right? Well, it’s really more like “Old Maid” on steroids. What starts out as a relatively quiet trading scenario, quickly escalates to a shouting match, and God forbid, you get the “Bear” card…you better not let anyone know you’ve got it or you’ll become black-balled and No-one will trade with you! This is a high-energy game for the most competitive families or groups of friends.
Age: 12 and up
Balderdash is an EXCELLENT way to strengthen your creativity! It’s the game that asks your friends to “call your bluff,” combining unbelievable but true content with answers that are hilarious and totally made-up. Each game card lists a question from one of 4 possible categories of content: people, words, initials and movies. Once a question is read, each player must write down what they think the definition or answer is. Don’t know the answer? That’s where the fun really begins, because you get to make up an answer that’s as silly or serious as you want. To win the game, players must decipher between answers that are phony and answers that are true. If you suspect an opponent is faking it, you can call their “bluff” and score points by guessing correctly. What makes this game extra fun is that some of the actual correct definitions are so bizarre and hard-to-believe. Because of that, you can get as outrageously funny with your own bluff answers and it is almost impossible to identify the correct answer.
We hope we’ve provided you with some ideas to amp up your laughter while we shelter in place. Now we will leave you with one last famous quote about laughter:
Sometimes I laugh so hard, the tears run down my leg.
~ Mango (my Cockapoo)
–Cherie Boldt and the SLB Team