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Laughter can increase pain thresholds,10 although hospital clowns had no discernible effect on distress in children undergoing minor surgery.11 Perhaps surgical patients derive no advantage from being in stitches.
Some readers may ignore the benefits of laughter—that would be serious; others may dismiss its harms—we call them the laughing cavalier.Laughing lowers your risk of myocardial infarction,18 and reduces recurrence after myocardial infarction in diabetes.19 So, reading the Christmas In healthy people, “genuine laughter” for 15 minutes increased energy expenditure by up to 167.2 k J (40 kcal).21 Laughter induced by a comedy show attenuated the postprandial increase in glucose in diabetes by 2.5 mmol/L compared with a “monotonous lecture.”22 A day of merriment could therefore consume over 8360 k J (2000 kcal), improve glycaemic control, and cure obesity.Lord Chesterfield said of the act of procreation that “the pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.” His first proposition has been refuted,23 but a pioneering study has confirmed the second.24 A clown, dressed as a chef de cuisine, entertained would-be mothers for 12-15 minutes after in vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer.We infer that laughter in any form carries a low risk of harm and may be beneficial. It remains to be seen whether, for example, sick jokes make you ill, if dry wit causes dehydration, or jokes in bad taste cause dysgeusia, and whether our views on comedians stand up to further scrutiny.This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial.