Purple Clover: Comedy isn’t just funny

Purple_Clover_Primed_For_LifeIn 2002, I covered the Aqsa Intifada for the New York Daily News. The Israeli-Palestinian “Peace Process” was in ruins, and it was a bleak and heartbreaking story.

Already saddled with the lugubrious genes of a bitter, negative Polish-Jewish grandmother, the despair and the bloodshed worked on me until I fell into a familiar pattern of depression. But in my late twenties I’d made a vow to myself — to never again allow depression to feel comfortable enough to stay for a long visit. So I went on anti-depressants. I started to exercise regularly and I discovered the writings of David Sedaris.

I developed other strategies. My Welsh boyfriend’s brother very kindly sent us the first season of Ricky Gervais’ “The Office,” a precursor to the Steve Carell iteration. Gervais’s David Brent is so wonderfully self-deluded and unlikeable that my sadness had no choice but to hide.

After a decade’s hiatus, I resumed watching “Saturday Night Live.” My Welsh boyfriend protested that the comedy was juvenile and repetitive, but that’s exactly why I loved it. I welcomed sophisticated wit, but dumb, tasteless humor was just as good. Rachel Dratch and Will Ferrell making out in a hot tub was evidence that the world was still a good place. And at the movies, “Zoolander” really spoke to me.

Laughter as a cure for depression isn’t a revolutionary idea. Laughter releases endorphins, also known as the happy hormone. Laughing relieves stress and encourages the production of the body’s natural pain killers. Laughter Therapy is a thing. So is Laughter Yoga. I may have not pioneered this technique, but I had a great time discovering it for myself. Read more

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