click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Confessions of a Laugh Addict

Confessions of a Laugh Addict

It's true -- I am addicted to laughs. But to the old fashioned kind.


Hi. Welcome to Laughaholics Anonymous. My name is Melanie and I nearly died laughing. This program taught me balance and moderation, cuz baby, there was a time I was a hardcore humor junkie.

I started small, real small. My cradle. It was way too easy. I was sobbing fitfully in little crybaby gasps over some minor diaper issue, Mom squeezed my rubber ducky, it went "squeak, squeak!" my gasps turned to giggles and I was gone, man. An innocent kid, hooked for life. Sob to giggle is a very, very short step, having to do with the simple replacement of an inhalation with an exhalation. It was way too easy. Thereafter, I started seeking fixes from wherever I could get ‘em.

It wasn't hard in a Jewish household. My family, like so many of our brethren from the Old World, endured their historic lack of popularity by ridiculing themselves. "If you can't beat em, join em," seemed to be the prevailing wisdom.

My family, like so many of our brethren from the Old World, endured their historic lack of popularity by ridiculing themselves.

"I'm so fat that when I sit around the house, I sit AROOUUUNUND THE HOUSE!" my uncle would kvell. "No, I don't have a head on my shoulders -- my neck is just blowing bubbles," my cousin would whine. Killed us! These outbursts of addictive humor were especially common at mealtimes, where spewed food appearing on other faces, or beverages fountaining up and out the nostrils only heightened the hilarity further.

It was the family problem. All the neighbors knew. Hearing the uproarious laughter booming out of our house late into the night, they clucked their tongues and called us shameless behind our backs....which made us laugh even more! Maybe we weren't the richest family in town, but we had a darn good time!

When I matured and left home, I found it hard to function in the humorlessly real world of the late 60's. The Vietnam War, the incident at Kent State. That stuff wasn't very funny. For a while there seemed to be a laughter shortage. We started a humor conservation club. Friends and I would gather and tell a precious joke in a small room so as not to waste any. We'd inhale each other's laughs, recycle 'em and laugh again. I started going to some mighty tough areas to get laughs, too -- dinner theaters, nightclubs, nice Jewish guys' mothers' apartments. I'll admit it -- I was lured by a few giggles into some not so funny situations.

When I tried to be a stand up comic myself, I was never satisfied with mere chortles, chuckles, titters or guffaws. I was hungry for the big stuff, the good stuff. I wanted boffo, pants-splitting, weep-reaping, soda-spitting, fall flat on the floor funny. I felt a failure for the mere amusement I provided. I knew I didn't have it to be a big time laugh peddler.

Now I watch addicts at the local clubs, at the Comedy Central tapings, so desperate for laughter that they think they can jump start it by ‘hooting" at an off color comedian. They all need a good squeeze toy, in my opinion. Poor things have forgotten how to laugh.

In this era which lacks a sense of humor, real laughter is hard to get. We need our limited air for other things like breathing. Hence the advent of the "dramedy" on television. But, c'mon. how can shows "Ally McBeal," or "Desperate Housewives" (and I've acted on them so I know) be nominated for Emmys for best comedies? Hah! Don't make me laugh. People are so starved for humor that they mistake over the top attention getting for funny. But do you really laugh aloud watching "Ugly Betty?" Just listen to yourselves! Sitting in your parlors alone, does one itsy bitsy snicker or drop of spittle emit from your laughing mouth? I think not!

So, just as the world is making it difficult for smokers to maintain their habit, the laugh habit is something I'm having to control. "No laughing!" signs, with the X through the smiling mouth are pervasive. I sublimate with socially appropriate pacifiers like sugarless gum, tongue texting, and, in the privacy of my home, thumb sucking, but they all have side effects and costs. I feel cheap, degenerate, ashamed. They will just never be the same high as sheer mirth.

I know I'm being radically unorthodox here, but I feel when times are tough we all deserve a hearty laugh. Let's agree to meet in speakeasy, laugheasy places like this one and tell a few from time to time, okay?

Laughter is still the best addiction and the best medicine a person could have, with no side effects...except the occasional stains and spills.

October 13, 2007

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 3

(3) kathee, November 20, 2007 9:39 AM

I miss decent humor

I enjoyed your article very much. I have been disappointed and often disgusted with what goes for "humor" in recent years. And, it's getting more crude by the year. The fact that old shows with more honest, non-crude humor have endured and continue to entertain even the current generation should speak volumes to the entertainment industry. Alas, they don't appear to be listening to the laughter.

(2) Gjary Katz, October 16, 2007 3:35 PM

I miss some of the old funny shows

"Ugly Betty" is ok, but I miss the older shows, like "Seinfeld," "Taxi," "WKRP in Cincinatti." I remember loving "Laugh-In," although it seems hopelessly dated now. One mark of a great comedy is that lines from the show become part of our culture. Whether it's Don Adams' "Missed it by that much," or Seinfeld's "Master of my domain," good comedy sticks to our ribs. Think of all the jokes you've heard and told over your life. Each one of those jokes was invented by someone at some time. Kind of cool to think up a joke and know that thousands of people will repeat it for years and years. Depending on the joke, generations. Look at the Three Stooges. Not for everyone, but they're still making people laugh all over the world. Laughter endures.

(1) babs, October 15, 2007 12:16 PM

I think they're funny

well, yes, I laugh out loud at Ugly Betty, Everybody Hates Chris, Reaper. and Pushing Daisies. I think the writer is a bit hyper critical. Don't quantify your laughs - loosen up! i have some very funny dogs here. Find enjoyment! A laugh is great and a smile is fine if that's what going.

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment