The Neuroscience Behind Laughing

Yeltsin totally farted.  Gotta be.

Yeltsin totally farted. Gotta be.

I just saw this TED Talk with a Sophie Scott, a neuroscientist, talking about laughter.  Really interesting stuff.  Truthfully, a lot of the information is stuff that comedians know intuitively.  But it’s cool to hear it explained scientifically.

I love that laughter is such a primitive, unconscious sound.  And yet as comedians, we have to engage your brain on an intellectual level to make it happen.  I also think it’s ridiculous that I get paid to make you snort.  If we’re being realistic. 🙂

A couple things popped out at me…

– The brain reacts differently to natural laughter and forced or posed laughter.  In a brain scan, different areas of the brain light up depending on if the laughter is genuine or not.  And your ability to tell the difference gets better with age.  That means that I know when you’re giving one of my jokes a pity laugh. 😉

– You laugh more when you’re with a group of people.  And even more so when you’re around people you know.  That’s why house concerts are such a nifty idea.  You have total control over who’s at the show and most people tell me it’s one of the best events they’ve ever been to.  If you’d like to have me play at your house for you and your friends, check out this info on how to do it free.

– Other mammals laugh too.  Good thing, because I’m doing a corporate gig at the zoo next week.

Here’s the whole Ted Talk….

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