The Gift of Laughter
Laughter is good for us
by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to reflect upon the importance of laughter.
Preparation and materials
You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (The Gift of Laughter) and the means to display them.
You will also need the following YouTube videos and the means to show them during the assembly:
-‘Contagious Subway Laughter’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHnRIAVXTMQ
It is 2.59 minutes long, but you only need to show approximately 1.20 minutes of it.
- ‘Funny Triplet Babies Laughing Compilation 2014’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCr0LG-X9hY
It is 3.21 minutes long, but you only need to show approximately one minute of it.
Optional: if possible, prior to the assembly, set each class or form the challenge of coming up with the funniest joke (appropriate jokes only!). Ask them to have a representative ready to tell the joke during the assembly.
Show Slide 1.
1 April is traditionally known as April Fools’ Day – a day to perform pranks, tricks and practical jokes on others. Many funny tricks are played on this day, but today, we are going to focus on the fact that laughter is important every day of our lives.
It is said that ‘laughter is the best medicine’. But is there any actual truth in this?
Show Slide 2.
Research has revealed several ways in which laughter is good for your health.
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving our muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes afterwards.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter diffuses anger. Nothing reduces anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding on to bitterness or resentment.
- Laughter helps us to bond with other humans and build stronger communities. Shared laughter can be a great experience, and laughter can often be infectious.
Show approximately 1.20 minutes of the YouTube video, ‘Contagious Subway Laughter’.
- Many people comment on the infectious sound of children’s laughter. Their giggling, laughing and enjoyment of the most basic aspects of life remind all of us that, no matter what age we are, we need to laugh and find joy in life.
- Let’s take a look at some babies setting a great example of the value of laughter.
Show approximately one minute of the YouTube video, ‘Funny Triplet Babies Laughing Compilation 2014’.
It is important to be able to laugh at ourselves sometimes, too. There is a saying that ‘as long as you can laugh at yourself, you will never cease to be amused’. Learning not to take ourselves too seriously is an important lesson in life. There is a balance between becoming too serious, and clowning around all the time. A shared joke with others, or even finding the funny side in our own actions and situation, can help us to find this balance.
But, as with all gifts, it is possible to abuse the gift of laughter. We can and sometimes do use laughter to mock or make fun of others, laughing at another person in a way that is cruel and hurtful. We do not like to be on the receiving end of other people laughing at us. To laugh in a way that is cruel or mocking is not the way we should behave.
We can also abuse the gift of laughter by using it to avoid conversations or situations that require a more serious and measured approach.
Therefore, as a reminder of how laughter is best used when we employ it in a positive way, we are going to hear some jokes and decide on our favourite.
If possible, invite the joke-tellers from each class or form to come forward and tell their jokes. (If you have not been able to arrange this, you may wish to use a selection of the best jokes from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from the last three years. Ask students or other staff members to read out one each.)
Here are some jokes from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
- ‘My dad suggested I register for a donor card. He’s a man after my own heart.’ - Masai Graham
- ‘Why is Henry’s wife covered in tooth marks? Because he’s Tudor.’ - Adele Cliff
- ‘Red sky at night: shepherd’s delight. Blue sky at night: day.’ - Tom Parry
- ‘The first time I met my wife, I knew she was a keeper. She was wearing massive gloves.’ - Alun Cochrane
- ‘I’ve decided to sell my Hoover . . . well, it was just collecting dust.’ - Tim Vine
You may like to ask the students to vote on their favourite joke by clapping – the loudest clap wins!
Time for reflection
Many aspects of the importance of laughter are included in a passage from the Bible, which we will hear in a moment. As we listen to this reading, let’s consider how we can use the gift of laughter today to bring joy to others and ourselves.
Show Slide 3 and slowly read out the passage on the slide.
‘Do not give yourself over to sorrow, and do not stress yourself deliberately. A joyful heart is life itself, and rejoicing lengthens one’s life span. Indulge yourself and take comfort, and remove sorrow far from you. Those who are cheerful and merry will benefit.’
Let us listen to some prompts that will help us to commit to making good use of the gift of laughter to enrich our world. As we listen to each question, let us quietly consider how we can make a difference today.
Show Slide 4 and read out the following questions, giving time for thought after each one.
- What could you do today to make someone smile or laugh?
- How can you avoid using laughter as a form of abuse – laughing AT someone?
- What is it that makes you laugh? Seek that out today.
Show Slide 5.
Let us pause and recall that you, the God of joy and laughter, are always with us, filling us with life, hope, creativity and a thirst for friendship with you.
We ask you today to enrich our lives with the gift of laughter and joy.