Funny is a moving target. As we grow older, our sense of humour changes. By the time we’re in our 40s and 50s, the jokes we loved in our 20s just don’t hit like they used to. Like, the one about the guy going to the doctor for some test results. The doctor comes in, sits down, and says, “I have some good news and some bad news; which would you like first?” The fella looks up and says, “Good news, I guess?” “Well,” she says, “from the looks of these results, they’ll probably name a disease after you.”

Not quite as funny now, hey? A little too close to home? Ya, I hear ya…

The power of laughter

Can we agree that when you hear someone say laughter is the best medicine, they should only suggest it as a preventative measure? Hey, look, if you wanna feel better overall, set yourself up the best way you can for a chuckle. If you’re staring down the barrel of a real health issue, set yourself up with a doctor. Either way, a sense of humour will help. The power of laughter will help you feel better while you deal with whatever life throws at you.

I had a wake-up call in January when I got some unfavourable test results. Turns out I have something called triglycerides. What in the world is a triglyceride!?! Perhaps a triglyceride is just an underachieving glyceride that really puts in the effort… I’ll show myself out. (Writing about humour is harder than it looks.)

Triglycerides are actually good for you . . . For the most part. If you have as many as I do, it’s not such a great thing.

Toby Hargrave holding snowshoe

There are lots of routes we can take for some comedic distraction. YouTube has plenty of funny folks doing funny things. There are all the different streaming services with loads of comedy. Maybe memes are your bag for a quick chuckle or guffaw. I tell ya, as smart as I might like to think I have the potential to be, when it comes right down to it, watching a video of a guy taking one to the nuts, or any video with a well-placed fart, and I am brought to my happy place. (Google “farting preacher,” you’re welcome.)

The best humour is found in everyday life

But I believe there’s an even better way overall. Here it is, ready? Just go do something, anything. Get out there. Try different experiences. If you can make it something new, all the better.

Have you been to the Capilano Suspension Bridge? There’s nothing funnier than watching a group of tourists realize how high the rope bridges swing and how low their threshold for heights has just become.

We all have our funny stories. The ones you crank out at the summer BBQ. The ones you tell in the kitchen at a house party. The ones that make your partner roll their eyes all the way back to the top of their ass and make an audible groan as they leave the room before you even get to the good part. Those ones. Those are the epic adventures that you’ve spun into tales that far exceed the original event.

You’ve moulded and perfected them. Perhaps you’ve added jokes and embellishments, and for that one moment, you’re the centre of attention. The man. People want to hear more and take part and say, “That reminds me of myself.” Freud referred to humour as a recognition of the familiar.

That’s it! That’s the secret. You just gotta get out there and do something. Nothing funny happens when the same old, same old keeps happening. So, my recommendation moving forward? Do something.

Interested in what Toby has been working on?

Toby Hargrave laughing

Ways to get out and create experiences you can laugh about later on

Call a friend and go for a walk

I have a friend, Charlie, and we always seem to head out for a stroll together at the oddest times. Like 11pm, kinda odd time. But it’s wonderful to catch up, reminisce, and talk about our plans for the future. So many fun stories and memories come from those walks. One of our favourites involves $10 slammed on a closed restaurant window and a very near code brown. Perhaps that story is best expounded on another time. When we get together for a walk we’re getting our heart rates up, getting some easy exercise, and enjoying a quiet Vancouver night.

Find a favourite street joke

You never know when a well-timed gag can come in handy. Being funny is so much harder than recognizing funny, so learn a few great street jokes to get you started if need be. Now, wait for the right moment to unleash this pearl and prepare for the adulations to roll in.

See something new

Maybe go check out a local comedy show. Laughter is a great way to get all that stress out of your system. If your stress doesn’t come out as a laugh, it will exit as a fart which in and of itself may cause laughter. We’ve come full circle on this one.

Go to a place you’ve never been to before

Men laughing on bus

You don’t even have to leave your city to do it. Jump on a bus you’ve never taken and don’t know where it goes, or take a class in something you’ve always wanted. When you can, do it with a buddy or at least share the story when you get back. I’m not saying it should be a race up the Grouse Grind, but perhaps that walk with a friend, that visit to a botanical garden, or maybe just a night on the town will lead to more than you imagined. It’s bound to be worth a laugh.

It’s kinda weird having a comedian talk about what to do to harness the power of laughter because we can be some of the most damaged people out there. Mental hurdles run rampant in my profession. However, there are days when I don’t feel funny at all because I’m not in the right headspace.

But every day I get up, I do something, and then go on stage and tell you all about it. To find the funny in YOUR world, look for the pearls, and by George, share it with a friend because any type of laughter is good, but laughter shared with others is even better. Trust me, I’ve based my career on it.

Is there something simple in your life that gets you laughing? Share it with us in the comments below.

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