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…

Can we agree that when you hear someone say laughter is the best medicine, they should only be suggesting 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 test results myself. 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. Apparently, though you have as many as I do, it’s not such a great thing. The pandemic has taken a toll, and it’s been harder to find humour in the world. We’ve lost the funny and found the cholesterol.

So I’m gonna suggest that we don’t try to find the funny in OUR world. Instead, focus on finding the funny in YOUR world. At this point, I think we can all agree things can seem a little bleak. How is it that suddenly everyone seems to be proving Darwin was wrong!?! Like, when did that happen? And don’t get me started on the drivers out there. Can I just say that if you do the speed limit or less in the left-hand lane of a two-lane highway, you should have your licence taken away? Please, don’t take that the wrong way. I mean it sincerely . . . I digress.

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.)

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 our epic adventures that we’ve spun into tales that far exceed the original event.

We’ve moulded and perfected them. We’ve added jokes and embellishments, and for that one moment, we’re the centre of attention. The man. People want to hear more, and they want to take part and say, “That reminds me of myself.” Freud referred to humour as a recognition of the familiar. Isn’t it crazy that we all seem to find similar things “familiar”?

Two men laughing

I’ve always thought it’s not our differences in this world that separate us. It’s our silence—the silence that happens instead of saying “I understand” or “I feel the same way.” We remain quiet, feeling alone. 

When it comes right down to it, don’t we all follow the same rules in life? You never hit your best friend. You clean up your toys when you’re done. You don’t sit in a public washroom, take some peanut butter, smear it on toilet paper, throw it over your shoulder into the next occupied stall and shout, “Wooah, that one got away!” . . . I digress. 

The point is, if we can, from time to time, fill our silence with even an idle chit chat or small talk, it could lead to a new adventure filled with laughter and elevated heart rates.

So, where does that leave us? Maybe you’re the storyteller above, or you’re the one being reminded of that super funny thing that happened to you while they tell it. The point is that you already have these JOCKular (see what I did there?) stories, and the more you can partake of the adventures in life, the more pearls of funny will come your way.

Toby hargrave laughing

Like to see Toby live or interested in what he’s been working on? Here are some of his upcoming events and appearances:

I can even tell you where you’ll find these pearls when they come up. You’ll be doing something new, or you’ll be doing something you’ve always done, and something new will happen to you while you’re doing it.

That’s it! That’s the secret. You just gotta do something. Nothing funny happens when the same old, same old keeps happening. So my recommendation moving forward? Do something. I’ve got four easy ideas for getting out and creating 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. All the while, we’re getting our heart rates up, getting some easy exercise, and enjoying a quiet Vancouver night.

Find a favourite street joke

Now that we get to see people again, 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, just wait for the right moment to unleash this pearl and prepare for the adulations to roll in. Feel free to use the joke above as a starter.

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. Science fact, 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. We just finished Move for Your Mental Health in June, and let me tell you, there are days when I feel like I’d have to win the Boston marathon to move enough to help my mental health.

But every day I get up, I do something, and then I 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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