Comedy to connect to one’s self and to others

by Carmine Rodi Falanga


We’ve all heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” While it might be a cliché, there’s a good deal of truth to it. Comedy and humor have been shown to provide a host of benefits for mental health. Here’s a look at some of the advantages:


Laughter, often regarded as a universal language, has been at the heart of human interactions for millennia. Its infectious nature can bridge differences, spark connections, and create shared moments that linger in memories. Historically, comedy and humor have been revered not just as forms of entertainment, but also for their profound ability to reflect on life’s complexities. When one delves deeper into the psychological intricacies of humor, it becomes evident that the benefits extend far beyond just a hearty chuckle. From aiding our mental well-being to offering fresh lenses through which we see the world, the impact of comedy and humor is profound.

Stress Reduction:

 Laughing triggers the release of endorphins, our brain’s “feel-good” chemicals. These endorphins counteract the effects of cortisol, a primary stress hormone. As a result, a bout of laughter can create a relaxation response, with benefits extending up to 45 minutes post-laughter.


Mood Elevation 

Engaging with comedic content, whether through a hilarious movie or a witty book, can brighten one’s spirits. It offers a shift in perspective, often making life’s hurdles seem more navigable.


Improved Social Bonds

 Laughter is a communal activity. When we share a laugh with others, it fosters feelings of connection and camaraderie, which are vital for psychological health.


Enhanced Cognitive Functions

 Humor stimulates extensive brain activity. This not only bolsters creativity but also enhances learning capabilities.


Pain Tolerance

 Some studies suggest that laughter can increase one’s pain threshold, likely due to the painkilling effect of endorphins released during these moments.

Increased Perspective 

Humor often tackles life’s intricacies in light-hearted ways, offering insights that make challenges feel less threatening and more approachable.


Boosted Immunity 

Engaging in positive, humorous thoughts releases neuropeptides that can bolster the immune system, enhancing resistance to diseases.


Facilitation of Coping 

Humor, when used sensitively, can be a valuable tool in dealing with difficult situations, making them feel less daunting.


Counteracting Depression and Anxiety

Delving into comedy can serve as a distraction from negative thoughts, breaking the cycle of rumination that often accompanies mental health challenges.


Improved Cardiovascular Health

Apart from its mental benefits, laughter boosts heart health by improving vascular function and promoting efficient circulation.


In our rapidly changing world, where stress and anxiety have become all too common, finding solace in comedy and humor has never been more crucial. These bursts of laughter, these shared moments of joy, act as pockets of respite, offering relief from the weight of daily life. Embracing humor, whether in our personal lives or as a collective, can pave the way for improved mental well-being, fostering resilience and optimism. As we navigate life’s complexities, the healing touch of humor serves as a reminder that there’s lightness to be found, even in the gravest of moments. So, let’s continue to find and share those moments of hilarity—they might be the very balm our souls need.

Controversial aspects of Humor


Humor, while universally appreciated for its therapeutic and connective qualities, is not devoid of controversies. Its subjective nature means that what’s funny to one person might be offensive to another. Throughout history, humor has been a reflection of society’s values, norms, and taboos. As these societal benchmarks evolve, so does the line that distinguishes harmless jokes from offensive jabs.


Comedy that draws upon racial, ethnic, or cultural stereotypes can perpetuate misconceptions and reinforce biases. Such humor can be deeply hurtful to those belonging to the mocked group, further deepening societal divisions.The same can be said for aspects like Gender and Sexuality, Mental and Physical Disabilities, Religious beliefs. 


Humor can be used to unite or divide. A joke can have as a purpose normalizing discourse over a tricky topic, or serve to normalize abuse around the same topic. It is impossible to say whether or not humor around a specific issue should be allowed or banned. What is crucial is the intention behind the joke – and more practical aspects such as writing, delivery, context, and an audience’s perception. 


Is Political Correctness “going too far”? 


Political correctness, at its core, is about showing respect for different people and groups by avoiding language or behaviors that might offend them, especially in regards to race, gender, religion, or other social categories.

As such, it seems impossible to associate political correctness with censorship or limiting freedom of speech or expression. Certain specific cultural and political group feel this way – or at least are very vocal about the way they feel – and dominate the cultural conversation about comedy. 

I would go as far as to say that if someone pushes censorship in the name of “political correctness”, is not being politically correct. So that’s a contradiction in terms, a true paradox. 

It is essential to remember that humor has to be used with empathy and awareness. Its main purpose is to humanize us, to create connections. When we use it to hurt (on purpose), or divide, we are betraying the highest and noblest use we can do of this incredibly effective tool in our communication. 

People may still laugh, but it’s the kind of cowardly support that bullies find in the schoolyard. Comedy can do much more than that. In the words of the late Bill Hicks, “Good comedy helps people know they are not alone. Great comedy provides an answer”.