Barreling into a mailbox head first from tripping on my own pant leg, I learned a whole new meaning of stopping traffic. Heads turned, car horns beeped, a few whistles blew, and many laughs burst out while I rushed from job A to job B during a Friday San Francisco walk/run commute. But what did I do in that moment of utter horror and embarrassment? Just smiled, curtsied, and owned it. Because there’s nothing worse than ignoring a foul play, especially when tripping on your own two feet.
As a kid, I used to shake at the table when I’d get uncontrollable giggles. You know the kind that if you breathe in just a half breath in, that could just be the tipper? So you try to just hold your breath, chew quickly, and praying food in your mouth would make it past the esophagus before completely exploding, and blowing it out. The point of no return, or if a liquid, a new meaning to waterfall. And, when it comes out of your nose? FYI: Don’t drink hot chocolate when you have the giggles… it’s a sure way to burn the insides of your nose and isn’t so sweet after all. But one thing I learned, and now teach, and am a number one advocate of is to: Let. It. Out. Because there is never harm in laughing WITH. Laughter is healthy if it is with, in support of, to comfort, and to connect through. It is a form of being kind WITH, vs laughing AT.
You see, like anything else we do as humans, (cry, scream, sneeze), laughter is a release. Holding it in, doesn’t enable it to just disappear, and chances are it will erupt even more so once freed out of the mouth cage. But there are times when appropriate and inappropriate. The first thing you have to ask yourself is, how would I feel in this scenario. Is laughter a comfort or is laughing going to hinder, feel vulnerable, or uncomfortable?
Here are some guidelines and a roadmap to free the laughs constructively:
1) Be gracious: People are with you. If you do something that caused a laugh when you least expected it to? Well, think of it this way, laughter is like a game of catch. When you receive the laugh catch it, and throw it right back. No matter the scenario, laughter is a universal language that everyone connect to, relates under, and is a way of embracing a scenario.
2) Be kind to yourself. If you do something that may cause a laugh inadvertently, (like tripping on your own pant leg and going head first into a mailbox)…well, consider yourself a great acrobat, that you know how to be stylish and funny in one, and that you just enabled a laughter as a cushion to a fall. Laughter is a support.
3) Laughing WITH, is a way to build relationships, trust, connection and support to bond. Laughing AT is isolating, and can cause less positivity toward connection, but more draw towards alienating.
Remember always, that laughing is the best accessory anyone can wear. And the best news of all? It’s free, accessible, one size fits all, and is never out of stock.
So remember when you do something that you didn’t expect, (like trip, or fall, or say something you didn’t mean to), know that a giggle or a laugh is a release to hold your hand. Grab a hold of it back, and know that walking hand in hand with laughter, can be one of the most comforting, and empowering ways to rise up, rather than crawl into an embarrassed cave.
Let the release be something to empower you, and know we are all WITH you and laughter is your friend.
About the Author: Susanna SPIES is one of Your Monthly Mentors, a seasoned educator and Founder and President of Comedy Playground, LLC, showcasing at The Hollywood Improv located in California. With a performance background, Spies has worked within mediums of television and film, and has performed stand up comedy on stages throughout the nation. Known for her many “faces”, in 2013 she debuted over 30 characters in her one-woman show “The Dryer” and was featured on Nuvo TV’s Stand & Deliver, E-One Entertainment’s Uncontrolled Comedy, and the Youtube sensation “Carol” of “Carol & Claire in The Angela Hoover web series, as well as dozens of national commercials, and Independent Feature Films. Read More…